Nats blow the save and waste some great efforts!

The Washington Nationals had a 3-1 lead in the 9th inning, and Koda Glover gave up a lead-off home run to make the score 3-2 then a single, walk and a double to blow the save and put the team in a 3-3 hole. Robinson Chirinos hit a 216 foot flyball that appeared deep enough to score Pete Kozma who was pinch-running, but not so fast, Bryce Harper gunned him out at the plate to keep the game at 3-3.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, Stephen Drew led-off with a double and was pinch-run for by Wilmer Difo who scampered to 3rd on a Matt Wieters slow grounder. With the winning run on 3rd, Dusty Baker stuck with Brian Goodwin in a lefty-lefty situation and he struck out in a 3-2 count. Trea Turner with 2 outs laid down a great bunt but Wilmer Difo stopped running from 3rd and was tagged out to end the 9th inning and send the game to extra innings.

“Why did Difo stop running,” Charlie Slowes raised his voice on the radio call.

Until the 9th inning started, the game was seemingly in-hand with 6 strong innings by Gio Gonzalez and 2 shutdown innings by Matt Albers in relief and the clutch 2-run home run from Adam Lind.

The record in games started by Jose Lobaton is now 5 wins and 12 losses. Lobaton had issues in the game including at the plate when he came up with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs early in the game. Lobaton hit a foul popup that should have been caught and was not caught in foul territory on a poor fielding play by Rua which gave Lobaton 2nd life and he once again popped up and this time was out. Later in the game Lobaton hit a lazy grounder to the first baseman who booted it but Lobaton was not running and was still out by a few feet when he realized he had a chance and ran harder once he realized the ball was booted. If Lobaton got on base, it would have been men on 3rd and 1st base with 2 outs with Brian Goodwin batting.

Lobaton was actually booed as he walked back to the dugout. Nationals​ fans are generally courteous but a lack of hustle from a bench player is rarely tolerated.

In strange moments in the game, why did Jose Lobaton call for a change-up against Choo that was hit for the home run against Koda Glover? You are in a 1-1 count which should have been 0-2 but Glover did not get the call on the 2nd pitch, but to go to the change-up which is not part of Glover’s best 3 pitches seems like a poor choice and it was hit far for a no-doubter. It was a poorly located pitch which was clear by the chart below.

The Nationals eventually scored 3 runs on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rendon and a 2-run home run by Adam Lind. Lind was signed in the off-season for $1 million which seemed like a bargain and he has now delivered some key home runs and RBIs. Lind now has 5 home runs in only 79 at-bats while batting .333 and a 1.008 OPS.

The pitching loss got tagged on Shawn Kelley who gave up a 3-run home run to Robinson Chirinos. That final inning could have been played differently when the Rangers inserted Joey Gallo with 2 outs and bases empty. To my analytics, you intentionally walk Gallo and pitch to Mazara but they pitched to Gallo who slammed a double and then they had to walk Mazara with first base open to pitch righty-righty to Chirinos. Shawn Kelley in a 2 strike count could not elevate the fastball high enough and Chirinos connected with it for a home run that just snuck it over the left field wall inches above the leaping Brian Goodwin. It was the 8th home run surrendered by Kelley this season in just 16 1/3 innings of work.

Both managers had some key decisions to make in this game, and whether in hindsight or foresight you make an alternate decision, it always comes down to execution by the players and the Rangers executed better.

“Afterwards, [Koda Glover] admitted he should have told me  — or us before the game that his back was really locked up,” Dusty Baker said. “We didn’t know it so. He was frustrated. We are frustrated. We can’t keep him healthy.”

It also appeared Ryan Zimmerman was not used because he was hurt or hurting as there were key spots to use him and he stayed on the bench. Dusty Baker said after the game and confirmed that Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t available today and is questionable for tomorrow with a back issue after he dove for a ball in Los Angeles which caused the issue that locked up his back. Baker said the training staff had been working on his back.

This was the play of the game from Bryce Harper:

This entry was posted in Analysis, InGame. Bookmark the permalink.