The Washington Nationals won this game by a final score of 3-1, and it was a very tense 9th inning as Blake Treinen walked the bases loaded and then walked in the first run of the game to make the score 3-1 with one out. Dusty Baker pulled Treinen and replaced him with Shawn Kelley who really earned the dramatic save as Kelley inherited bases loaded and one out. Kelley got Emilio Bonifacio to flyout to shallow rightfield on a nice running play by Bryce Harper. For the final out of the game, Shawn K. struck out Chase d’Arnaud. Kelley actually struck out d’Arnaud twice as homeplate umpire C.B. Bucknor stooped to a new level of complete incompetence and called a foul tip in the dirt on strike 3 which was actually not even close to a foul tip, but Bucknor reversed his initial decision after calling him out. The players were already shaking hands as if the game was over when C.B. Bucknor informed everyone after a short delay that it was a foul ball, and Kelley had to get back on the mound. Shawn K. threw another nasty slider and struck out D’Arnaud again.
“I was celebrating and happy and high-fiving everybody,” Shawn Kelley said. “And then when I saw the umps talking I said, ‘OK, I think this is going to go bad. We’re probably going to have to throw another pitch.’ So I kind of stepped back to the back of the mound for a minute while everybody was kind of getting back into position.”
As the teams walked off the field, Jayson Werth was yelling towards C.B. Bucknor and had to be restrained by other Nationals’ players and coaches. In the post-game interviews, both Dusty Baker and Braves’ manager Brian Snitker were very critical of Bucknor’s umpiring. Snitker thought that the would-be last pitch of the game was 8 inches from being fouled off, and Snitker said this as the manager of the player who got the gifted foul call.
Werth: "What happens if (he) gets a hit & ties it up & then we play all night? That affects the rest of the season. It just blows my mind."
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) April 19, 2017
Max Scherzer went 7 strong innings of shutout baseball throwing a season high 115 pitches. Sammy Solis pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Dusty Baker opted to go directly to Blake Treinen for the 9th inning even though the first batter was Freddie Freeman, and Oliver Perez was warm in the bullpen. Of course Freeman quickly stroked a single to get the Braves going in the 9th inning.
Another issue that is ongoing this season is the defensive skills of Matt Wieters. The Nationals are up to 8 wild pitches this season as Sammy Solis was charged with 2 in his inning of relief. This got no mention, but if you look at the controversial strikeout pitch by Shawn Kelley on d’Arnaud in the 9th inning, Wieters did not glove the ball in the dirt. It actually bounced up and caught him on his upper inner thigh of his right leg, and too close to being a run scoring wild pitch.
— Nats Strike Zone (@NationalsUmp) April 18, 2017
Instead of discussing the ace start of Max Scherzer, we are almost forced to the depraved story tonight which was the inept umpiring behind homeplate. Here is the Braves’ starter’s K zone. This is umpiring ineptitude at levels rarely seen as a pitch against Difo was 13.4 inches total off the plate, but this is about umpire C.B. Bucknor who somehow has stayed employed.
Besides the umpiring, a takeaway from the game is that Blake Treinen has been given his chances to show he deserves to be this team’s closer, and he just has not done the job. A change looks to be imminent.
“We got to do something to shore up our closer situation because this ain’t working,” Dusty Baker said after the game.