With Chien-Ming Wang putting up three straight sub-par starts entering tonight, this might have been a statement game of sorts for the veteran right-hander.
This wasn't the statement he was hoping to make.
Wang got smacked around by the Rays tonight, and was pulled after just 3 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs on seven hits, gave up three extra-base hits, walked three batters (including Rays starter David Price) and tossed 77 pitches before being pulled.
Ross Detwiler came on in relief of Wang, and it's reasonable to wonder after this performance whether Detwiler will end up back in the rotation, bumping Wang out of the No. 5 spot and continuing the rotation carousel.
Wang started the season on the DL with a left hamstring issue which forced him to miss the first month and a half of the year. He pitched one outing in relief of Detwiler, but since rejoining the Nats rotation, he's struggled mightily.
He leaves today with a 6.10 ERA on the seasonand an incredibly poor WHIP of 2.32 in his four starts.
His sinker doesn't have much life at all, and hitters appear completely comfortable in the box against him.
The Nats don't have many options with Wang because his age and injury history mean he pretty much either has to be kept in the rotation at the major league level or designated for assignment. Wang doesn't have any minor league options remaining, and because of his past shoulder issues, he isn't much of an option out of the bullpen.
Wang leaves tonight with the Nats trailing 5-2. He also leaves with his future in some doubt.
For those wondering about John Lannan, he has allowed only one run in three of his last four starts with Triple-A Syracuse, but still has an ERA of 4.91 on the season.
Update: After hitting 31 homers last season, Michael Morse finally has his first of the 2012 campaign.
Morse's two-run shot just over the scoreboard in right-center has cut the Rays' lead to 5-4 as we go to the seventh inning. He took a first-pitch, 97 mph fastball from Price and smacked it to the opposite field and it had just enough to get out.
The play was reviewed by the umpires, but the homer stood.
That's a timely knock for Morse, and one that had to feel damn good, too.