Espino in Chicago:
Paolo Espino put up a 2.03 ERA, a 3.05 FIP, four walks, 20 Ks, and .228/.257/.317 line against in 26 2⁄3 IP out of the bullpen to start the season, but before taking the mound tonight to go up against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, the 35-year-old veteran had a 5.52 ERA, a 6.13 FIP, nine walks, 33 Ks, and a .302/.333/.570 line against in 10 starts and 44 IP since moving into the Washington Nationals’ rotation back on June 12th.
Espino was coming off a four-inning outing in a rain-shortened 5-4 loss to the Phillies which saw him give up seven hits (two homers) and five earned runs in a 71-pitch appearance.
The home runs, in Citizens Bank Park, were the 12th and 13th he’d allowed in 44 innings as a starter, after he’d allowed just two in 26 2⁄3 IP as a reliever.
“They got a couple balls up in the air, and they still hit him decent. But it’s unfortunate. As a pitcher here, you’ve got to make your pitches, and Espino made some good pitches.
“But like I said, you get the ball up in the air this time of year anything can happen.”
If you leave a slider up over the middle any time of the year... in Wrigley Field, something’s likely to happen too, which it did, when Espino left a 1-0 slider to Seiya Suzuki up, over the middle in the first at-bat of the Cubs’ half of the second, and Suzuki hit it out, 387 feet out to left field for a game-tying solo shot a half-an-inning after the Nationals went up 1-0 on a Keibert Ruiz blast, 1-1.
Espino held the Cubs to the one run through four, with a 4-1 lead to work with after three and a half, but he hit Willson Contreras with two out in the Cubs’ fifth, and gave up a long double to left by Ian Happ which almost went out, putting runners on second and third in front of Suzuki, who lined out to left to end the threat.
Paolo Espino’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 6/1 GO/FO.
Stro vs the Nats:
Signed to a 3-year/$71M free agent deal this winter, Marcus Stroman, 31, had made 14 starts for the Cubs before tonight, with a 4.00 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 18 walks, 68 Ks, and a .238/.282/.401 line against in 74 1⁄3 IP, missing time with inflammation in his right shoulder, but returning in early July for five starts before taking on the Nationals in Wrigley Field, over which he had a 1.67 ERA, a 3.04 FIP, six walks, 23 Ks, and a .214/.257/.327 line against in 27 IP.
Stroman worked around a one-out walk to Luke Voit in an 18-pitch first, but left a 2-2 sinker to Keibert Ruiz up in the zone with one out in the second, and the Nationals’ 24-year-old catcher hit it 384 feet to right field for his fifth home run of the season and a 1-0 Nationals’ lead.
KEIBERT PREPARED FOR LAUNCH pic.twitter.com/QYeGDSqvSc— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 10, 2022
Ruiz got Stroman again in the third, on a 2-2 cutter, up and in this time, hitting a three-run shot to right field after back-to-back, one-out hits by Yadiel Hernández and Joey Meneses, 4-1 Nationals on Ruiz’s 6th of 2022.
Marcus Stroman’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 90 P, 55 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
Luke Voit started the night with an 18-game on-base streak going, over which he had 19 hits, seven walks, was hit three times, and posted a .392 OBP, and the Nats’ new slugger, was 7 for 17 (.417 AVG), with two home runs, three RBIs, two walks, a hit by pitch, and three runs as a National since he came over in last Tuesday’s Juan Soto/Josh Bell deal with the Padres.
He had a 19-game on-base streak going after he walked the first time up against Cubs’ starter Marcus Stroman, taking four straight balls after falling behind 0-2 to the right-hander.
Erich Uelmen took over for the Cubs in the top of the sixth, and got an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP after giving up a one-out single by Yadiel Hernández and a two-out walk to Keibert Ruiz.
Erasmo Ramírez took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth, and retired the Cubs in order in a 13-pitch frame. Still 1-0 Nats.
Uelmen tossed another scoreless frame in the top of the seventh.
Zach McKinstry singled off Ramírez to lead off the Cubs’ half of the seventh inning, then Christopher Morel followed with a hit to right as well, sending McKinstry around to third with no one out, and a blooper to right Rafael Ortega made it a two-run game, 4-2.
Kyle Finnegan took over for Ramírez with runners on first and third and no one out, and the right-hander gave up the fourth straight hit, an RBI single to right by Willson Contreras, 4-3.
Ian Happ stepped in next and lined one out to center field, where Lane Thomas made the catch for out No. 1, and threw home to get Ortega trying to tag and score from third base, 8-2 double play. Still 4-3 Nationals.
Seiya Suzuki singled to keep the bottom of the seventh alive, and Franmil Reyes stepped in next and lined an RBI single to right to tie it up, 4-4, before Nico Hoerner connected for the seventh hit of the inning, and drove in the fourth run, 5-4 Cubbies.
Mark Leiter, Jr. took over with the Cubs suddenly ahead after seven, and gave up a one-out hit by Maikel Franco and a two-out, two-run home run to left by Joey Meneses, whose third home run since he was called up to make his MLB debut put the Nats up 6-5. 358-foot shot for Meneses.
Andres Machado gave up a leadoff single by Zach McKinstry (3 for 4), but got two outs, then the Nationals went to Carl Edwards, Jr., with McKinstry on second, and Edwards, Jr. went to a full count and struck out Willson Contreras with a curveball, still 6-5.
Edwards, Jr. returned to the mound for the bottom of the ninth, and gave up a one-out hit by Seiya Suzuki (3 for 5). Nelson Velazquez stepped in with a chance to walk it off, but the Cubs tried to steal a bag, and Keibert Ruiz threw to second where César Hernández tagged Suzuki after he slid by the bag.
A walk to Velazquez got Nico Hoerner up for a two-out at-bat, but he K’d looking at a 3-2 fastball inside to end it. Ballgame. Nationals win, 6-5.
Nationals now 37-75