The Washington Nationals dropped their fourth straight game June 19 after a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park.
The four-game losing streak and the performance of the starting pitchers took a back seat to a pitcher who didn’t face a batter, as Rays’ relief pitcher and former National Joel Peralta was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning for having pine tar on his glove.
“Especially if somebody has been known to use a foreign substance on their glove or their hat, a nice hot night is the time to use it,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “And so I asked them to check; obviously, he had it.”
After Peralta was ejected, he was seen tipping his cap to the Washington dugout as he left the field. Peralta’s replacement was left-handed flamethrower Jake McGee, who promptly retired the side in order.
Rays’ manager Joe Maddon returned the favor in the ninth inning, when the umpires went to the mound to search Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus’ glove. The glove was clean.
“I’m not going to take it personal,” Mattheus said. “It’s gamesmanship. You know we did it to them, and I’m sure they wanted to make sure that we weren’t at an unfair advantage with something sticky in our gloves.”
As for the starters, it was two pitchers who had two very different nights.
Chien-Ming Wang didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, with his record dropping to 2-3 on the year. Wang went 3 1-3 innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits.
“He’s been having some problems with his delivery, and he’s been rushing and that’s what he was doing again today,” Johnson said of Wang. “He was rushing. When he gets out in front, it’s kind of like a hitter lunging and he doesn’t get a chance to get his arm up ... he’s still having some delivery problems.”
For now, Johnson plans on keeping Wang in the starting rotation.
“I know how good he can be,” Johnson said. “My job is to try to get everybody doing the things they’re capable of doing.”
Ross Detwiler, on the other hand, looked completely capable against the Rays. Detwiler tossed 3 2-3 innings of shutout ball, allowing no hits, no walks, and striking out three.
“I just wanted to go in there and try to hold them down and give us a chance to win,” Detwiler said.
The only pitcher better than Detwiler last night was David Price. The Tampa Bay starter bounced back from his last start against the New York Mets to earn the win against the Nats and give him his ninth win, which ties him for the most in the American League. The lefty went deep into the game, pitching seven innings and only giving up three earned runs on 98 pitches while fanning four.
Two of the six hits Price allowed came off the bats of Ian Desmond and Michael Morse. Desmond’s solo shot in the second inning gave the Nats a 2-1 lead and was his 11th of the season, which marks a new career high for the 26-year-old shortstop. Morse’s 2-run homer in the sixth was his first of the year and cut the Rays lead to 5-4.
The Nationals will try to snap their losing streak when Stephen Strasburg takes the mound against Chris Archer, who will be making his Major League debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.