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Rays 3, Nationals 5: Despite one good inning, the offense remains off

The Nationals completed the two-game sweep of the Rays

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping the series opener last night against the Washington Nationals, the Rays looked to split the two-game series in our nation’s capital. Ryan Yarbrough made his first start for the Rays tonight since returning from the Injured List, with Anibal Sanchez taking the mound for the defending World Series champions.

Yarby hit Victor Robles to start an outing that was far from good. Trea Turner walked to put two on with one out, and both baserunners advanced into scoring position with a double steal. Juan Soto brought home Robles with a sac groundout to Yoshi to give Washington a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals added a second run in the second inning after back-to-back two-out doubles by Brock Holt and Carter Kieboom to make it 2-0 Nationals.

In the third, another run was brought home thanks to a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera. Josh Harrison would single to plate the fourth run for the Nationals, and Brock Holt would single after Harrison to load the bases once again, marking the end of Yarbrough's outing.

Yarbrough struck out one but allowed four runs on six hits, walking one and throwing 70 pitches over 2.2 innings. After not pitching in 11 days, a perfect start was the last thing anyone expected, but tonight’s performance really wasn’t the end of the world. Aaron Slegers was brought in to relieve Yarbrough and escaped the bases-loaded jam.

After five exceptional innings from Anibal Sanchez, the veteran righty found himself facing the Rays lineup for the third time tonight in the top of the sixth. Brandon Lowe, after getting his first hit in over 20-straight plate appearances last night, singled to get the inning going. Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch to put two on with no outs.

Lowe was brought home by Ji-Man Choi, who singled to right field and finally put the Rays on the board. Wander Suero was brought in to pitch for the Nationals after the run scored.

Yoshi Tsutsugo, who has quietly been one of the offense’s most productive batters, doubled to left field to score Arozarena and make it a 4-2 ballgame. With two runners in scoring position, Suero spiked a curveball that went off of Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki and allowed Choi to score from third, bringing the Rays within one run. Willy Adames drew a walk but Michael Perez lined out to end the inning.

Slegers hit the first two batters in the bottom of the sixth and Adam Eaton advanced them with a sacrifice bunt. Trea Turner hit a slow-roller to short to plate Washington’s fifth run of the game, while Turner was thrown out at first for the second out of the inning.

Juan Soto was intentionally walked for the second time in the game, but both he and Robles were stranded on the bases after Kurt Suzuki grounded out to end the inning.

Sean Doolittle made quick work of the Rays in the seventh, striking out two. Ryan Thompson entered the game for the Rays in the bottom half of the inning, and while throwing a scoreless inning, he struck Josh Harrison out with a filthy slider that you just have to see for yourself.

John Curtiss came in to pitch the eighth, and despite allowing a two-out double, didn’t allow a run to keep it a 5-3 game. Daniel Hudson was brought in to close the game for Washington and that’s what the Nationals closer did, striking out Austin Meadows for the final out of the game.

The Rays dropped both games in Nationals Park, amassing four runs between the two games while allowing 11. With an off-day tomorrow, the Rays will head back home and welcome the Boston Red Sox to Tropicana Field on Thursday with first pitch scheduled for 6:40 pm.