Tanner Roark was almost as effective as Steven Matz was in this game as Roark’s outing had him giving up 2 runs of which only 1 was an earned run. The Nats failed to score any runs on offense off of Matz, but the game was there to be won by the Nats in the 9th inning.
The Nats had a few chances to score runs in the game with Matz tiring in the 8th inning as Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch-hitter with Clint Robinson on 1st base as Bryce grounded out. This time there would be no pinch-hit home run magic for Bryce as the crowd of over 38,000 cheered him on.
The big opportunity turned out to be in the 9th inning when Jayson Werth singled off of the Mets closer Jeurys Familia to start the inning and Daniel Murphy followed with a single to set-up Ryan Zimmerman as possible hero with 2 on and none out. Zim is Mr. Walk-off with his 10 career walk-off HRs including last year’s against the NY Yankees.
This time there would be no Zim walk-off celebration or even a productive out as Zimmerman swung at 2 balls out of the zone in a 2-0 count before striking out on a ball in the zone (chart below).
The next batter after Zimmerman was Anthony Rendon who smoked a ball, which off the bat looked like a sure single in between the 1st baseman and 2nd baseman, but Eric Campbell for some reason was playing 25 feet off of 1st base and fielded the hot grounder (see Dusty Baker’s video below) and threw to 2nd to get the 2nd out of the inning. Wilson Ramos hit a ball hard at David Wright for the last out of the game as the Nats had a golden opportunity in the 9th inning and couldn’t plate a run.
Daniel Murphy was the cause of the unearned run on a booted groundball, and took the blame upon himself in a postgame interview and wasn’t even asked about it initially as he volunteered his thoughts, “I misplayed another groundball. It just needs to stop happening.” Murphy was then asked if it was a bad hop, “No it was not a bad hop. It was a bad play.”
Perhaps the most significant play in the game was that strikeout of Zimmerman in the 9th. Pitch #1 was a gift called ball #1. Pitch #2 was almost a wild pitch for Ball #2. In a 2-0 count the 3rd pitch was almost a foot inside and Zimmerman swung and missed at a clear Ball #3 and swung at what have been Ball #4 and then swung and missed at the 5th pitch in the at-bat for the strikeout and the 1st out in the 9th inning. With a better plate discipline, Ryan Zimmerman should have walked and the Nats would have had bases loaded and no outs. In reality, it did not work out that way.
Dusty Baker gave his thoughts in his post-game news conference: