When one pitch changes a game, this one worked out for the #Nats!

There was one key play from last night’s game that was huge in scope, and could have changed the entire game. In the 8th inning, Dusty Baker went to Shawn Kelley out of the bullpen. Kelley was victimized by Wilmer Flores who fought off a pitch, and it blooped in for a lead-off double. Keep in mind the score was 3-1, and immediately the tying run would step into the batter’s box. The next batter was Jose Reyes and he was able to ground a ball for an infield single that Daniel Murphy dove and got to, but could not throw out the speedy Reyes.

With men on 3rd and 1st, Dusty Baker did not want Jose Reyes to steal 2nd and went to the bullpen for the matchup to get the lefty Oliver Perez to face the lefty Curtis Granderson. Keep in mind, Oliver Perez was not supposed to be available for the game after throwing 35 pitches in an unsuccesful relief appearance the night before where he took the loss.


This is where the game took a turn. Oliver Perez could not locate his pitches, and the homeplate umpire Toby Basner had been giving outside strikes and borderline strikes on top of the zone a few times. Perez worked  the top of the zone and the inside though and the count went to 3-1 and on the 5th pitch, Ollie threw the same pitch inside on Granderson that was identical to pitch #3 that was called a ball previously, and this time Granderson swung at what would have been Ball 4 to load the bases! Granderson was jammed and hit a lazy liner right to Danny Espinosa for out #1. If Granderson takes the pitch, it’s bases loaded and no outs. 1 pitch changed the course of the game.

oliver perez on granderson 7 8 16

Note that pitches #3 and #5 are in the identical spot. Pitch #3 was ruled a ball.

According to the chart, Oliver Perez didn’t throw a pitch inside the K Zone during that entire at-bat.

Dusty Baker brought in Blake Treinen to face Juan Lagares with runners still on 3rd and 1st, and the Nationals turned their biggest doubleplay of the year to end the inning and snuff out the Mets best chance for a rally.  Lagares hit the ball hard and it almost handcuffed Daniel Murphy who started the 4-6-3 doubleplay.

On this day, it was the other team who didn’t stay disciplined and turned the game around. In hindsight, it probably was not a good idea to bring in Oliver Perez in that situation, but Granderson refused to take the walk, and it worked out for the Nats.

The umpiring of Basner could have played into it as both teams had their issues with the home plate ump.

toby basner umpire


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