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Washington Nationals drop 8-1 decision to Tampa Bay Rays in Grapefruit League action

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Stephen Strasburg struck out three in 1 1⁄3 IP in what ended up an 8-1 loss for the Nationals in Grapefruit League action with the Rays.

Tampa Bay Rays v Washington Nationals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg dropped a well-nigh unhittable 84 MPH 2-2 change on 18-year-old Rays’ prospect Wander Franco to get Tampa Bay’s teenaged phenom swinging for the first out of the 2009 No. 1 overall pick’s first Grapefruit League outing this Spring.

Strasburg went back to the changeup in a 1-2 count with Rays’ center fielder Brian O’Grady, collecting his second K, before a groundout from Yandy Diaz ended a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame this afternoon in West Palm Beach, FL’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Dylan Cozens watched a letter-high 1-2 fastball all the way in for out No. 1 in the second, and Strasburg’s third K. Kevan Smith worked the count full and fought off a fastball, lining one to right for the Rays’ first hit, and he took second on a pitch in the dirt that got away from Nats’ catcher Yan Gomes. Randy Arozarena drew a one-out walk, putting two on, and a flare fell in for a hit on an RBI single by Michael Brosseau which tied things up at 1-1, before a line drive to right-center by Vidal Brujan made it a 3-1 game. That was it for Strasburg. 35P total.

Misplays in Right Field = Nats Thing: Trea Turner singled to center field to start the bottom of the first, and scored two outs later when Howie Kendrick hit a single to right field, which Rays’ outfielder Randy Arozarena misplayed, allowing Turner to score from first base to put the Nationals up 1-0 after one, before the Rays responded in the top of the second...

Bullpen Action: Paolo Espino took over for Stephen Strasburg in the second, and returned to the mound in the third and gave up a bomb of a home run to right by Brian O’Grady that put the Rays up by three, 4-1.

TT: Turner was 2 for 2 with a single and a double after he lined a pitch from Trevor Richards to left to lead off the bottom of the third with a two-bagger, but he was stranded at second two outs later.

Voth Like Both: Austin Voth was late getting to first base on a grounder to the right side with Howie Kendrick playing in the middle of the infield in the shift, so Randy Arozarena reached safely with a one-out, infield single, but he was stranded at the end of a 14-pitch frame for the right-handed candidate for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation (or a long relief spot in the bullpen).

Starlin Castro made a slick play in short right, backhanding a one-hopper on the outfield grass and turning to throw to first in time to get Brian O’Grady for out No. 2 of the fifth.

A batter later, however, Yandy Diaz hit an RBI single to right field, driving in Dalton Kelly, who had singled to start the frame, 5-1. Voth was up to 36 pitches after a 22-pitch fifth.

Kyle Finnegan gave up a leadoff walk in the sixth and two outs later Arozarena, who walked, scored on an RBI single by Dalton Kelly, and Kelly moved to second on a Wander Franco hit, and scored on an RBI double by O’Grady, 8-1 Rays.

Dakota Bacus needed just eight pitches in a quick, 1-2-3 top of the seventh.

James Bourque worked around a leadoff single in a 13-pitch eighth, catching Ben Troike looking with a sharp 12-6, 1-2 curve for out No. 3.

Kevin Quackenbush worked a scoreless top of the ninth inning, and the Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the inning. Final Score: 8-1 Rays.