Yunesky Maya strong early, but gives up run to Padres in 4th

When Yunesky Maya came to the big leagues last year, he had an underwhelming fastball that he was unable to throw for strikes consistently, which made his off-speed pitches less effective, and he struggled as he saw hitters for the second and third times. Through the first three innings of his first major league start this year, he had no problems. But early in the second trip through the order, he’s run into trouble.

He threw 29 strikes in 38 pitches through the first three innings, holding the Padres to one hit. His fastball was in the low 90s, allowing him to use his big-breaking curveball effectively. He allowed hits to the first three hittters in the fourth inning, though, and the Nationals’ lead over the Padres has been cut to a run.

Maya has been underwhelming at Syracuse, allowing a 3.79 ERA even though he’s held hitters to a .214 average, and he got his pitch count run up here in the fourth. The Padres made him throw 21 pitches to get through the fourth, and he’s at 59 pitches through four innings. Moreover, he had some problems as hitters saw him for a second time. We’ll see if that continues.

The Nationals scored a pair in the first with some good small ball - or smart ball, if you prefer; Roger Bernadina beat out a bunt, reaching first on an error by first baseman Brad Hawpe, stole second and moved to third on Ian Desmond’s infield single. Then, Desmond went from first to third on a hit and run with Jayson Werth at the plate, and Bernadina scored. Finally, Laynce Nix drove Desmond in on a sacrifice fly to short left field, with Desmond testing Ryan Ludwick’s arm and getting called safe at home, even though his front foot appeared not to have touched home plate and it looked like Logan Forsythe tagged his back foot.

It’s 2-1 Nationals in the bottom of the fourth, as Maya tries to break his trend of crumbling in the middle innings.