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Washington Nationals drop opener of season-ending series to Boston Red Sox, 4-2 final

Two more games for the Nationals this season, after they fell 30 games under .500 with tonight’s loss...

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Rogers gave up four of seven hits, one of four walks, and all three runs he allowed on the road in Great American Ball Park on the final road trip of 2021 in the fifth inning, which ended being his final inning of work.

Trying to bounce back from that outing tonight, the left-hander tossed five scoreless in the series opener with the Boston Red Sox in D.C., but things fell apart in the sixth with leadoff and one-out singles for the Sox, then back-to-back home runs, a three-run blast and solo HR on consecutive pitches that were enough for the visiting to take the first of three, 4-2 final.

Rogers vs the Red Sox: Talking after he gave up seven hits, four walks, and three earned runs in 4 23 IP against the Cincinnati Reds, over which he threw 102 pitches overall, Josh Rogers acknowledged that it was a less-than stellar outing.

“It was a struggle,” Rogers explained, “it sucks because I felt really good in the bullpen there before the game, body felt great, arm felt great, and then you get out there and it’s like, you lose everything arm-side, and I’m like, ‘Man!’ I just couldn’t find the zone, couldn’t get ahead.

“I was behind all day, struggling to just make those pitches. Not being able to command the inside of the zone is huge for me, and when I can’t do that it’s going to be a struggle.”

“All in all it’s not a good performance by me, and just falling behind in counts, that’s not how I pitch.”

Looking to bounce back from that outing, Rogers got off to a good start in the first of three with the Red Sox in D.C., tossing four scoreless on 53 pitches, working around two hits and two walks, and he came back out in the fifth inning and gave up a leadoff single by Christian Vazquez, but started a double play on a popped up bunt by the Red Sox’ starter, who forgot to run to first, then struck Kyle Schwarber out after a two-out walk to Enrique Hernandez.

Things went all pear-shaped in the sixth, however, with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez connecting for leadoff and one-out singles, respectively, before Hunter Renfroe stepped in and hit a three-run blast to left-center field for a 3-0 Red Sox’ lead.

One pitch later it was 4-0 after Bobby Dalbec hit a first-pitch slider from Rogers into the left field bullpen for the second of back-to-back shots.

Rogers got out of the sixth, but that was it for his final out of the 2021 campaign...

Josh Rogers’ Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 86 P, 56 S, 2/7 GO/FO.

Rodriguez vs the Nationals: Eduardo Rodriguez, 28, was diagnosed with COVID in July of 2020, and he developed a heart condition that led the left-hander and the Red Sox to decide to shut things down and focus on his health, but he returned to the mound this season, and going into tonight’s game, he was (11-8) in 30 starts with a 4.93 ERA, a 3.35 FIP, 44 walks, 178 Ks, and a .279/.329/.444 line against in 151 23 IP.

Rodriguez took the mound in D.C. coming off a month of September that saw the southpaw put up a 3.96 ERA, a 2.68 FIP, six walks, 28 Ks, and a .296/.337/.429 line against in 25 IP.

The Red Sox’ left-hander tossed three scoreless innings on just 40 pitches, retiring eight in a row after a one-out walk to Juan Soto in the home-half of the first, but the second walk to Soto in the top of the fourth, and a pair of singles by Josh Bell and Keibert Ruiz loaded them up with no one out, before three quick outs got Rodriguez threw four scoreless innings on a total of 66 pitches.

A scoreless, 19-pitch fifth left Rodriguez at 85 pitches, and he came out for the sixth with a 4-0 lead, and gave up a walk to Josh Bell and a single by Keibert Ruiz before the Sox pulled the plug on his outing...

Eduardo Rodriguez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 93 P, 62 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

Lane “Extra Bases” Thomas: Since joining the Nationals back on August 15th, following a short stint at Triple-A Rochester after a deadline deal that brought him over from St. Louis, Lane Thomas led his new club and ranked seventh in the NL with 22 extra-base hits (13 doubles, two triples, and seven home runs), with, the Nats mentioned in their pregame notes, Thomas’s, “17 extra-base hits (9 2B, 3B, 7 HR) in 29 games since Aug. 31, tied for the most in Major League Baseball.”

Of course, Thomas doubled the first time up tonight, though he was eventually stranded...

Bullpen Action: Righty Ryan Brasier was first out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, with two on and no one out in the bottom of the sixth, and he retired three straight Nats, with Jordy Mercer grounding into a force at third and Carter Kieboom and Andrew Stevenson both striking out to end the threat.

Andres Machado came on for the Nationals in the seventh and gave up back-to-back, one-out walks before he was lifted.

Alberto Baldonado took over with two on and one out and got two quick outs to strand the runners he inherited. Still 4-0 Red Sox.

Matt Barnes got two outs in the Nationals’ seventh, but Alcides Escobar got all of a 93 MPH 2-2 fastball and hit a solo shot to left to get the home team on the board, 4-1. No. 4 for the shortstop this season.

Red Sox’ lefty Darwinzon Hernandez walked Juan Soto with two out in the Nats’ seventh, then faced Josh Bell (from the right side), who singled to right, but Juan Soto tried to go around to third on the hit and got thrown out to end the inning, still 4-1 Sox.

Patrick Murphy worked around an error in a scoreless, 12-pitch top of the eighth, with some help from a diving Andrew Stevenson in left field.

Adam Ottavino retired Keibert Ruiz on a fly to left in the first at-bat of the Nats’ half of the eighth, but Jordy Mercer hit a 1-2 slider from the right-hander out to left in the next at-bat, making it a two-run game with one swing, 4-2 Sox. Andrew Stevenson hit a ground-rule double to center to get Ryan Zimmerman up to the plate with two out and a chance to tie things up, but a nasty frisbee of a two-strike slider outside got Zimmerman swinging for out No. 3.

Sean Nolin tossed a scoreless top of the ninth to keep it a two-run game.

Hansel Robles came on for the save in the home-half of the ninth inning and issued the fourth walk of the night to Juan Soto, bringing Josh Bell up with a chance to tie it.

Bell walked too, getting it to Keibert Ruiz, but the rookie catcher sent an 0-1 fastball to short right to end it.

Final Score: 4-2 Red Sox

Nationals now 65-95