Desmond on scrum with Gomez, Strasburg on struggles, Hill on debut

Stephen Strasburg’s struggles and Taylor Hill’s major league debut in Wednesday’s series-ending 9-2 loss to the Brewers were overshadowed by a few tense moments after the eighth inning.

The eighth had ended on a double play where Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, after being hit by a Hill pitch, slid hard into Kevin Frandsen at second trying to break it up. Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond didn’t like the fact that Gomez issued a takeout slide in that situation, potentially hurting Frandsen late in a blowout, and let his feelings be known.

Benches cleared briefly, but only heated words were exchanged between Desmond and Gomez. No punches were thrown and the game went on quickly. Desmond discussed the incident afterward.

“I just told him I didn’t agree with the way he slid into second base with a seven-run lead,” he said. “I’ve defended that guy in a lot of clubhouse arguments. I respect the way he plays the game, but I’ve got no respect for that. If he thinks he got drilled on purpose by our pitcher making his major league debut, to take it out on a guy who has grinded his butt off to make a major league career in Kevin Frandsen - what if he potentially ends his career right there? In a World Series game, you slide like that. In a seven-run differential game, there’s no time for that. I think if you’re going to defend that, I’ve got no respect for you if you can defend that. ...

“He said it’s a clean play. And I said I disagree.”

Hill said he didn’t intend to hit Gomez.

“I was just trying to go inside. There was no intent there,” the rookie right-hander said. “I was trying to go inside, part of the game, didn’t do it on purpose.”


Desmond also praised Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada, who held the Nats to two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Estrada didn’t allow a hit until Desmond’s RBI double in the fourth.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Desmond said. “He mixes his pitches a lot. He’s got a really good changeup and breaking ball. He locates his fastball really well, and he got some run support.”

Strasburg proved to be the biggest difference in the game, as he was unable to come through for an extended outing the day after the Nats earned a 16-inning win.

He allowed a season-high seven runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three, struck out two and allowed two homers. It was the first time Strasburg surrendered multiple homers in a game this season.

The right-hander said he feels something off in his mechanics.

“I’m just not right mechanically right now and I think it’s causing them to see the ball a lot better,” Strasburg said. “It happens to everybody, so I’m just going to keep working hard.”

He isn’t yet sure what is specifically wrong.

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” he said. “It just doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t look the same. ... I’m working on it.”

The big blow came in the second inning when Scooter Gennett hit his first career grand slam.

“They’re a free-swinging team. They’re going to run into balls,” Strasburg said. “So I missed my spot obviously, but it’s just kind of how it is right now.”

To save the bullpen, Hill pitched the final 3 1/3 innings in his first career major league action. He allowed two runs on five hits.

“It was something I’ll never forget. It was awesome just pitching in front of that crowd and just being able to do that was something special. I’ll never forget it,” Hill said.

“I thought I was OK. I think I could’ve executed better. I wasn’t as fine-tuned as I would like to be. But Sandy (Leon) caught a great game and played great defense. Like I said, that’s something that always helped me, just being able to throw strikes. I wasn’t able to locate my fastball as well as I hoped, but that happens. You’ve just got to figure out how you’re going to get through it. Fortunately enough, our defense came through. So that was good.”

Hill’s parents made it in from Nashville in time to see him pitch. It was an emotional experience for them, as it would be for most parents.

“I think they tried to hold it together for me, but I think they were a mess earlier on,” Hill said. “It was cool, though. It was great to see them. I hadn’t seen them in a couple months.”

Despite the loss, the Nats took two of three from the team with the best record in the National League, which has them on a high as they head to Wrigley Field in Chicago.

“We played really well,” Desmond said. “We kind of put it behind us and move forward. We’ve got another tough series coming up.”

Said Strasburg: “The guys played great. It kind of stings a little bit more. I wanted to go out there and do my job and get the sweep. I just wasn’t able to get it done.”

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