PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals knew they would make multiple calls to the pen before Sunday’s game. But their plans for a bullpen day against the Phillies quickly turned into a long afternoon of visits to the hill in a 12-6 loss that saw seven pitching appearances and 154 pitches being thrown by the Nats.
In shorthand, excluding Stephen Strasburg and Erick Fedde, the Nationals turned to right-handed Austin Voth to facilitate the start. Manager Dave Martinez eyeing Voth to throw three innings, but his afternoon stalled in the top of the third after a pitch hit in the face by right-handed Vince Velasquez. Voth suffered a broken nose and will stay in Philadelphia to reset it while the team travels south to face the Rays.
“It’s really scary,” said Martinez. “I almost fell over a seat on the bench just to try to get out of there because we knew straight away that getting hit in the head would be ugly.”
With Victor Robles in first place after also being hit by a pitch and no one outside, Voth was in the square when Velasquez tossed up a 90.5 mph four-seam fastball and Voth was unable to dodge after he cut off his helmet. He sank to one knee and was visibly bleeding, but he could run away on his own.
“Some things just got away from me and it sucks,” Velasquez said. “In this situation, I feel terrible for Voth. I would hate to be able to both ends. But it happened. It’s over. I hope he recovers. “
Voth left the game after throwing two goalless, goalless frames with a pair of strikeouts. Martinez described him this season as a “great ray of hope” in the Nationals bullpen, filling several roles depending on pitching needs. While discussing Voth’s post-game injury, Martinez spoke on the broader topic of Hit Batters.
“I hate to mention it, but you’ll see more of that if we keep messing with the eggs,” Martinez said. “I understand they are trying to clean up a few things. But the eggs – it’s hot, it’s slippery, it’s sweaty. I know Velasquez didn’t throw it in there on purpose. … But I’m afraid if we don’t find something uniform for everyone, you will see a lot more of it. And that’s a scary feeling because these guys throw 95, 96, 97, some throw 100 [mph]. “
Right-hander Wander Suero continued Voth’s momentum and kept the Phillies off the board in the third before their rival from NL East opened the offensive floodgates in the following inning and set the tone for the rest of the game.
Philadelphia scored seven runs on the fourth run as it took Sam Clay, Kyle Finnegan and Paolo Espino a combined effort to get three outs. Defensively, the second baseman Jordy Mercer misplayed a popup and the third baseman Starlin Castro threw to the second instead of home when a field player had a choice that allowed the Phillies to kick off. The Nats faced 12 thugs that inning, and the Phils did their damage without hitting an extra base hit.
“We went away with the walks, the mistake, the choice of outfield player with Castro,” said Martinez. “This inning just got out of hand.”
Espino stayed in the game for the fifth game, but allowed Brad Miller a home run, as did Tanner Rainey in the sixth game against JT Realmuto. Before Kyle McGowin could complete his two goalless innings to close the game, the net behind home plate collapsed at the top of the eighth, creating a 20-minute delay.
“It was a crazy day,” said Martinez. “My mood really wavered when I saw Voth get hit. From that moment on, I wasn’t happy. I know [Velasquez] didn’t hit him on purpose, but it stinks. You start worrying about Voth, but we have to keep playing the game – and then all of a sudden we start giving up on all these runs and then the net falls on our heads. That was like the topper there. “