The last time Stephen Strasburg was at Fenway Park to face the Red Sox he fanned 13 in a mere six innings. Now it was Boston’s turn as they chased one of the premier pitchers in baseball with five runs and ten hits in 5.1 innings. That was the bad news for Strasburg. The good news was a Justin Masterson fifth inning melt down allowing six runs so Strasburg left with a lead.
Masterson had an interesting first giving up a hit, a balk and a walk before his 27th pitch struck out Clint Robinson. Strasburg tossed his own 23 pitch inning in the last of the first before getting Pablo Sandoval to ground one back to him after singles by Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
In the second with one out Hanley Ramirez was a bit shaky on a wall ball and played what should have been a single into two bases. That would be costly.
A walk to Danny Espinosa had runners on first and second only to have the lead runner, Ian Desmond, tossed out by Ryan Hanigan on a double steal attempt. Michael Taylor drove in Espinosa on a clean single up the middle and a lead for the Nationals that lasted as long as you can say Mookie Betts.
Boston plated two more runs in the third when, with runners on the corners, Daniel Nava drove a sharp two out single to drive in Ramirez. Hanigan followed with his second hit of the season and an RBI. That was boosted in the fourth by a Pedroia Monster shot to give Boston a 5-1 lead.
Masterson fell apart in the top of the fifth with a hit batter, a single by Bryce Harper and a walk to Ryan Zimmerman left the bases loaded for Robinson. Robinson pumped a single into deep right for one run and a Wilson Ramos ground out got a third run for the Nationals. They were not done as Desmond drove in two for the tie and Taylor tripled for two more off new Red Sox pitcher Alexi Ogando.
The Red Sox took the lead on a three run inning without a hit. An error by Desmond, his sixth of the young season, and two hit batters brought Hanigan up to face Blake Treinen.
Hanigan tapped one to Treinen who treated the ball as if it had Ebola and tossed it somewhere in the vicinity of the box seats. That was two runs and the third arrived via a Holt ground out.
For Boston Mujica got the win and for the Nationals Treinen took the loss.
* Five hit batters in the game.
* Sandoval left in the fifth inning after fouling a pitch off his foot earlier in the game. Ramirez moved from LF to third.
* Xander Bogaerts with a knee ailment (Day-To-Day) and Shane Victorino (.100) with a bat ailment were two right-handed batters being replaced by two left-handed batters with Nava in right field Holt at short.
* Hanigan has more career walks than strikeouts.
* Strasburg won a Silver Slugger Award in 2012.
* Strasburg may have an SS Award, but Masterson has a higher career average: .212 to .147.
* Matt Stairs played for the Nationals, Expos and Red Sox.
* Right handed batters were entering the game with a .219 average against Strasburg. Masterson had the same .219, but left-handers had a career .287 against Masterson.
Masterson did exceptionally well in critical situations early by twice striking out batters with runners on to end an inning. But walking that tightrope is dangerious and Masterson fell apart in the fifth and gave back a 5-1 lead before being pulled. The pitching line was not pretty: 4.2 IP, eight hits, seven runs, three walks and four strikeouts.
Ogando allowed a triple and two runs to the first batter he faced. The idea, Alexi, is to prevent and not encourage inherited runners. That tacked on two more runs to the Masterson ERA stat line. Mujica managed an inning without giving up a home run and Tazawa pitched a scoreless inning. The important news was Uehara as he returned to 2013 glory for one night with two strikeouts and his first save of 2015.
Strasburg is tough and the Sox managed ten hits including a Pedroia home run. Pedroia had three hits to lead the 11 hit Boston attack in a grinding offensive game by both teams. Betts chipped in early with a two run double to give Boston a temporary lead.
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