WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Strasburg’s 2020 debut for the Nationals unraveled in a five-run fifth inning Sunday, when the World Series MVP allowed six consecutive batters to reach base before being lifted, and Washington’s game against the Baltimore Orioles was suspended in the top of the sixth after the grounds crew had trouble unrolling the tarp during a rain delay.
Baltimore led 5-2 when play was interrupted by a shower. It will resume Friday at Baltimore, where the teams already were supposed to open a three-game series, meaning the Orioles will try to finish off this three-game sweep at Nationals Park while at Camden Yards.
The bad weather lasted only about 20 minutes, but the game was held up for a total of more than two hours before it was called, while attempts were made to make the soaked infield dirt playable.
After a while, umpires Laz Diaz, the crew chief, and Tim Timmons came out to inspect the field, pointing cell phones toward the ground to take photos, it appeared. They spoke for a bit with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde at the edge of the outfield grass, then walked over near the visiting dugout to chat with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo.
About a half-hour later came the announcement of a suspension.
Strasburg missed his first two starts of the season because of a nerve issue with his throwing hand, and while the Nationals pronounced him 100% ready to go — “He’s completely past it. He wouldn’t be on the mound today if he wasn’t,” Rizzo said a half-hour before the game — the righty didn’t look that way in the key inning.
Baltimore strung together a double, four singles and a walk, including Hanser Alberto’s two-run double and Anthony Santander’s two-run single.
The walk came on just four pitches, and Strasburg vigorously shook his right hand after the last, then used his glove to wave off manager Dave Martinez and a team trainer, who both emerged from the dugout.
At that point, the game was still scoreless. Eventually — five runs later — Martinez went out there to lift the ace, who threw 69 pitches.
Starlin Castro’s first homer for the Nationals made it 5-2 in the fifth.
Soon thereafter, the rain came.
Rizzo said there haven’t been any discussions with ownership about his contract, which expires after this season. “But I’m not worried about it. They’ll take care of it when they deem themselves ready to take care of it,” Rizzo said. “So I haven’t given it much thought.” Asked what the timeline might be for discussing the status of Martinez, whose contract includes a club option for 2021 that hasn’t been exercised, Rizzo responded: “I don’t have a timeline, but Davey is deserving of one. He’s earned it. He’s a great representative of the Washington Nationals.”
Baltimore claimed RHP Jorge López off waivers from the Kansas City Royals, who designated him for assignment Friday. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 27.00 ERA in 2020 after giving up two runs while getting two outs in his lone outing for Kansas City.
Orioles: C Pedro Severino was out of the lineup because his left hand was sore after he was hit by a pitch there in the ninth inning Saturday night. … SS José Iglesias was given a day off before the team’s scheduled off-day Monday so he could get 48 hours to rest his left quadriceps muscle, which has been a lingering issue this season.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, who left his last start after one inning because of a bothersome right hamstring, is slated to take his next scheduled turn, Tuesday at the New York Mets. “We are not making any firm announcement, but I would imagine he is going to take the mound on Tuesday,” Rizzo said.
Orioles: Open a three-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.
Nationals: Will play away from Washington for the first time in 2020, taking a train New York for a four-game series at the Mets that opens Monday with Nationals LHP Patrick Corbin (1-0, 3.00 ERA) on the mound.
That will be followed by series at Baltimore and Atlanta. The Nationals originally were supposed to head to Miami for three games starting July 31, but that series was postponed because of the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak.
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