The script called for a champagne celebration at best or at the very least a Nationals’ win reducing the Magic Number to 1. Instead the Nationals lost their 5th game in their last six, and the blame game ensued.
The automatic closer was not automatic tonight as Mark Melancon ended up with his first blown save as a Washington National. Blame weak contact, blame big contact, blame outfield positioning, blame the starter, blame the veteran reliever, blame the ump, blame the coaches, and if you are looking to blame your young centerfielder you can, but the blame game is no fun as this game was not lost on one play.
“You can blame whoever you want, but it doesn’t matter,” Dusty Baker said. “We lost the game.”
The Nationals will try to get a win tomorrow as Joe Ross will be the starter. The Magic Number will remain at 2 for tonight. If there is any solace, the Nationals did guarantee that worst case they would force a tie for the second Wild Card.
The Nationals offense was good at times tonight, but lacked the ability to put the game out of reach. All starters got hits except for Anthony Rendon. Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa had home runs, and Ryan Zimmerman had two doubles. The offense scored 5 runs, but also left 12 runners on base.
The Nationals defense certainly had some plays you would want to do over, and some plays like Danny Espinosa’s plays in the 1st and 9th innings were excellent and Bryce Harper made a tremendous running catch.
Gio Gonzalez gave up 3 runs over 5 innings, and the Nats scored 5 runs for him. Yusmeiro Petit took the loss, and the umpire blew a strike 3 call on rookie call-up Jacob Stallings who was able to remain batting and knocked in the walk-off run for only his second career hit.