Max Scherzer held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run on four hits in a seven-inning start, but Rays’ right-hander Nathan Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the sixth and held the Nationals to one hit total over six scoreless inning in what ended up a 1-0 win.
The Rays swept the two-game series with Washington in Tropicana Field after dropping two games in D.C. earlier this month.
Scherzer vs Tampa Bay: Max Scherzer held the Rays to two runs on five hits in his June 5th outing against Tampa Bay in the nation’s capital, striking out 13 of the 28 batters he faced in an eight-inning, 99-pitch outing.
“When you go out there and control the count like that, and consistently put them behind the eight-ball of being 0-1, you’re dictating the action,” Scherzer told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier, after that start.
“It gives you so many more chances to mix and match and throw the pitch you want.”
Scherzer was winless in his next three outings leading into today’s rematch with the Rays in Tropicana Field, however, and he fell behind early after giving up back-to-back hits by Kevin Kiermaier and Matt Duffy (who battled Scherzer for 10 pitches) that put runners on the first and third with no one out before Jake Bauers grounded into a force at second and brought in a run, 1-0.
Scherzer held the Rays there through five innings, but Rays’ starter Nathan Eovaldi held the Nats’ hitters hitless through five and scoreless through six to preserve the 1-0 lead. A 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth left Scherzer at 88 pitches, and he came back out for the seventh and gave up back-to-back singles by C.J. Cron and Daniel Robertson, and Mallex Smith bunted both runners over in front of Adeiny Hechavarria, who went down swinging at a 1-2 slider.
Kevin Keirmaier stepped in next with two on and two out, and popped out to foul territory off third to end the threat.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 104 P 63 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
Eovaldi vs Washington: In his second start of the season back on June 5th, Nathan Eovaldi, who was coming off his second Tommy John surgery when he signed with the Rays, gave up four hits and four earned runs in five innings in what ended up a 4-2 loss to the Nationals the Rays’ right-hander was facing again this afternoon.
In four June starts, including that outing, Eovaldi was (0-3) heading into today’s outing, with a 6.17 ERA, a .253/.266/.571 line against, two walks, and 17 Ks in 23 1⁄3 IP, over which he gave up eight home runs.
Eovalid retired the first nine batters he faced, striking out five on 46 pitches, but his bid for perfection ended in the top of the fourth inning when he hit Adam Eaton on the elbow and walked Bryce Harper in the first two at bats.
One out later, after Anthony Rendon popped up on the first pitch he saw, a blown double steal attempt gave away a runner when Eaton pulled up after starting from second base, and Harper didn’t look up as he left from first, hanging Eaton out to dry.
For the second time in 24 hours...— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 26, 2018
Juan Soto took the second walk of the inning with two down, but was stranded as Eovaldi completed his fourth hitless frame, and he retired the side in order in the fifth, but Bryce Harper hit a two-out double to left on an 0-2 fastball in the sixth to break up the no-hit bid.
Harper was stranded, however, as Eovaldi preserved the shutout, completing six scoreless on 100 pitches overall.
Nathan Eovaldi’s Line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 100 P, 64 S, 51 GO/FO.
Harper double trouble: Bryce Harper’s last six hits coming into today’s game were all two-base hits, and he made it seven doubles in-a-row when he lined an 0-2 splitter from Rays’ right-hander Nathan Eovaldi off the left field fence, just feet from a game-tying home run.
Harper had hits in six of seven games overall before this afternoon’s affair, over which he was 6 for 22 (.273 AVG) with the six doubles, three RBIs, six walks, and three runs scored, over that stretch, and he’d hit safely in four of the seven games and reached base safely in six. Harper’s double off Eovaldi today was his 11th of the season.
BULLPEN ACTION: Diego Castillo took over on the mound for the Rays in the seventh, and worked around a one-out walk for a scoreless 15-pitch frame.
Castillo came back out with a 1-2-3 eighth as well, to keep it a 1-0 game.
Kelvin Herrera stranded two runners in a scoreless bottom of the eighth.
Jose Alvarado got the save opportunity in the ninth and fell behind Bryce Harper 3-1 in the first at bat and missed with a 3-2 pitch, putting the tying run on base.
Rays’ skipper Kevin Cash went to right-hander Chaz Roe, but put Alvarado at first base to keep him in the game for Juan Soto, with Jake Bauers shifting/hiding in left field.
Anthony Rendon stepped in with a runner on, and went down swinging at a 1-2 pitch up high from Roe, who left the game with Alvarado returning to the mound to face Soto.
Soto singled to center to put two on in front of Daniel Murphy hit a bloop single to left field to load the bases, but Trea Turner popped out to short right on the first pitch he saw, and a Michael A. Taylor strikeout ended the game. At which point Romo decided to bark at Taylor after the outfielder stole a base on him late in the series in D.C. Romo’s revenge, I guess.
Final Score: 1-0 Rays
Nationals now 41-37