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Washington Nationals drop series opener to José Berríos and the Minnesota Twins, 5-0

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Washington’s Nationals have lost 6 of their last 10 games after tonight’s 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Minnesota Twins Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

It was an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel in Target Field, where the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins played one another for the first time since 2016. It was also the Nationals’ first visit to Minneapolis since 2008, and their first series in Target Field, which didn’t open until 2010.

Twins’ starter José Berríos and Nationals’ right-hander Aníbal Sánchez matched one another with six scoreless innings each, but Berríos got through the seventh, and Sánchez blinked first, giving up a leadoff double by Eddie Rosario and a two-run home run by Mitch Garver (30) in the first two at bats of the bottom of the seventh inning, 2-0. It ended up a 5-0 win for the Twins.

Sánchez vs the Twins: Aníbal Sánchez was unbeaten in 17 outings between May 16th and August 30th, going 8-0 with a 3.16 ERA, 28 walks, 77 Ks, and a .225/.286/.356 line against in 94 IP over that stretch, with the Nationals 12-5 in his starts, but that streak ended with a rough outing against the New York Mets last week in the nation’s capital, which saw him give up eight hits (three of them home runs) and seven runs total in five innings of work on the mound in what ended up an 8-4 loss.

The three home runs allowed matched the total that the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran gave up in his previous eight starts and 45 13 IP.

Looking to bounce back tonight in the series opener with the Twins in Target Field, Sánchez tossed four scoreless to start, working around a walk that provided the home team with the only baserunner through four.

Sánchez got through 4 23 without allowing a hit, but Willians Astudillo lined an 0-2 sinker to right-center for the first hit with two out in the fifth, though a fly ball to right off of Lamonte Wade’s bat ended the Nationals’ starter’s fifth scoreless frame.

Luis Arraez went the other way with a 3-2 cutter from Sánchez, lining a one-out double out to left field, over Juan Soto’s head, for the first extra-base hit of the game for either team in the bottom of the sixth, but he was stranded at second two outs later, at the end of another scoreless frame. 0-0.

Eddie Rosario lined a 1-2 fastball to center to lead off the seventh, however, on Sánchez’s 87th pitch, and Mitch Garver followed with a two-run blast to left on an 0-1 slider that the Nats’ starter left up, 2-0. Garver’s 30th. Sánchez got the next three outs, but left the game trailing, 2-0...

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 61 S, 4/8 GO/FO.

Berríos vs the Nationals: José Berríos had a tough month of August, going (1-2) in five starts for the Twins in which he had a 7.57 ERA, 12 walks, 30 Ks, and a .333/.395/.556 line against in 27 13 IP, and it didn’t get better with the flip of the calendar.

The 25-year-old right-hander gave up eight hits, three walks, and six earned runs over five innings on the mound in a 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on the road in Fenway Park in his previous start before tonight’s.

Tonight, Berríos and the Twins were back in Target Field, and he got off to a good start, with 13-straight outs to start the game, but Howie Kendrick lined an opposite field single to right field for the Nationals’ first hit in the top of the fifth.

An error on a pick attempt moved Kendrick into scoring position, the first time anyone from either team made it that far, but he was stranded there two outs later as Berríos completed five scoreless on 68 pitches.

A nine-pitch sixth, in which Berríos worked around a one-out single by Trea Turner, left the Twins’ starter at 77 pitches overall, and he got a double play out of Juan Soto after issuing Anthony Rendon a leadoff walk in the seventh, then got out No. 3 on a line drive to first off Howie Kendrick’s bat, with the 17-pitch frame leaving him at 94 total after seven scoreless.

José Berríos’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 94 P, 63 S, 9/3 GO/FO.

RendOBP: Anthony Rendon went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk in Sunday’s series finale in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, with the first of two two-base hits in his first at bat extending a 24-game on-base streak for the 29-year-old infielder.

In those 24 games, Rendon was 40 for 96 (.417/.486/.750) with 11 doubles, seven home runs, and 13 walks (vs 10 Ks) in 111 plate appearances.

After going 0 for 2 against Twins’ starter José Berríos, Rendon walked to start the seventh, extending his on-base streak, but he got doubled up in the next at bat, on a grounder off Juan Soto’s bat.

BULLPEN ACTION: Sergio Romo took over for the Twins after seven scoreless innings by José Berríos, and retired the Nationals in order to keep it a 2-0 game in the home team’s favor after seven and a half.

Tanner Rainey took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth inning and hit the first batter he faced, Jonathan Schoop, before giving up a single by Luis Arraez, and throwing a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position with no one out before a two-run double by Jorge Polanco made it a 4-0 game.

An intentional and unintentional walk loaded the bases with one out and ended Rainey’s night, and Javy Guerra came on and gave up a sac fly by Ehire Adrianza, 5-0.

Trevor May came on for the top of the ninth and retired the side in order to end it.

Nationals now 79-64