Paolo Espino filled in admirably as a late replacement for Stephen Strasburg as the starter in today’s series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Nationals Park, giving up two runs on two home runs in 4 1⁄3 innings, but Washington’s offense scored just one run on the D-backs’ starter, Madison Bumgarner, and came up empty against the bullpen in what ended up a 5-2 loss in the nation’s capital.
Strasburg Espino vs the D-backs: Paolo Espino started in the majors for the first time since 2017 last season, and the right-hander, who pitched for the organization in the minors from 2014-16, before returning on minor league deals in 2019 and ‘20, and again this season, got the call this morning when Stephen Strasburg was placed on the 10-Day IL with some right shoulder inflammation.
The 34-year-old right-hander debuted in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers in 2017, but didn’t get back up the big leagues until the Nationals called him up in last season’s 60-game COVID campaign.
Given an opportunity to start again this afternoon, in the series finale with Arizona, Espino fell behind early when D-backs’ leadoff man Josh Rojas got hold of a 2-2 fastball and hit it out to right field in Nationals Park for his first of the season and a 1-0 lead early in D.C.
It was 1-1 in the fourth when Carson Kelly hit an 88 MPH 1-2 fastball from Espino out to left for the second home run of the game off the Nationals’ starter and a 2-1 D-backs’ lead.
With one down in the Nationals’ fifth, and Espino up to 75 pitches, manager Davey Martinez went to the bullpen for lefty Sam Clay...
Paolo Espino’s Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 75 P, 48 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Bumgarner vs the Nats: The first year of Madison Bumgarner’s 5-year/$85M deal with the Diamondbacks did not go well, with the 31-year-old lefty finishing the 60-game campaign (1-4) with a 6.48 ERA, a 7.18 FIP, and a .276/.347/.576 line against in 41 2⁄3 IP, and he didn’t start this season too well either, going (0-2) in his first three outings before this afternoon, with an 11.20 ERA, a 6.22 FIP, and a .367/.458/.667 line against in 13 2⁄3 IP in those starts.
Though he’s struggled to start his time in Arizona, Bumgarner looked sharp in the series finale in D.C. this afternoon, giving up just two hits through five, though one was a solo home run to left by Trea Turner in the third...
Bumgarner finished the fifth at 80 pitches, with a 2-1 lead, and the D-backs went to the pen at that point...
Madison Bumgarner’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 80 P, 49 S, 1/5 GO/FO.
Don’t Run on Robles: Asdrúbal Cabrera should know better ... or maybe he thought he hit one out, but the former Nationals’ infielder and current D-backs’ third baseman hit a long fly ball to center in Nats Park, where it hit the top of the wall, a couple feet from gone, and bounced right to center fielder Victor Robles, who fielded it and threw to second in one motion, on a fly to get the runner just as he arrived. Nice outfield assist. Bad baserunning decision.
Bullpen Action: Sam Clay took over for the Nationals with one out in the D-backs’ fifth, and the left-hander got the final two outs of the inning to keep it a 2-1 game in Arizona’s favor.
Austin Voth was on next for the Nats, and he worked around a leadoff walk in a 17-pitch top of the sixth.
Kevin Ginkel walked Juan Soto with one out in the Nationals’ half of the sixth, after he took over on the mound for the D-backs, but stranded Soto and Starlin Castro, who reached on an infield hit, in a 23-pitch frame.
Voth gave up a leadoff single by Nick Heath in the top of the seventh, but a strong throw by Yan Gomes and a slick tag by Starlin Castro caught him trying to take second.
A two-out walk to Josh Rojas bit the righty, however, when Pavin Smith sent a grounder to left to drive in the D-backs’ third run of the game, 3-1.
Yoan López gave up a two-out line drive single to left by Victor Robles, but struck Josh Bell out for out No. 3 of a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
Ryne Harper gave up a leadoff double to center field by David Peralta in the first at bat of the eighth, and issued a walk to Carson Kelly in the next at bat. A wild pitch move Peralta over to third, and he scored on a sac fly by Eduardo Escobar, 4-1 D-backs.
Righty Taylor Clarke came on for Arizona in the bottom of the eighth, and gave up a leadoff home run to right-center by Trea Turner on a 96 MPH 3-2 fastball. Second of the game, No. 4 of the season for Turner, and 4-2 D-backs after eight.
Kyle McGowin gave up a leadoff single by Josh Rojas and issued an intentional walk to David Peralta with two down in the ninth, before an errant back pick attempt at first base on a too-short throw by Yan Gomes allowed the D-backs’ fifth run to score, 5-2.
Walks to Carson Kelly and Eduardo Escobar loaded the bases with two out, but Nick Ahmed K’d looking to end the top of the inning.
Stefan Crichton came on for the save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth and worked around a one-out single by Kyle Schwarber and a two-out walk to Victor Robles to end it.
Final Score: 5-2 Diamondbacks
Nationals now 5-8