The Nationals knew that facing Jhoulys Chacin in Petco meant a low scoring game, and Edwin Jackson matched him in runs 1-to-1 for a pitching gem in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Dusty Baker’s strategy seemed to be to score some runs with some small ball, and that is how the Nationals pushed across the first run of the game. The difference in this game came from the only true long-ball via a clutch Ryan Zimmerman solo home run off of the Padres’ bullpen while “The Firm” held the opposition to zero runs for a Nationals win!
For the Nationals first run, they played some small ball after a lead-off double by Howie Kendrick. Wilmer Difo bunted Kendrick to 3rd base, and he scored on an Adam Lind sacrifice fly in a 2-strike count deep to the opposite field. The Nationals second run and game-winner was a trademarked Ryan Zimmerman oppo home run that was a laser shot to rightfield. That made the score 2-to-1 which was also the final score of the game.
The high flyballs were not carrying in this game and several were caught on or near the warning track. Runs were at a premium, and the Nationals had other chances to score runs as did the Padres. Maybe some extra credit to the pitching and the defense which was good by both teams. Both Anthony Rendon and Adam Lind got robbed by Padres leftfielder Jose Pirela, and Rendon returned the favor in the 7th inning by robbing the first batter of the inning, Austin Hedges, of a sure double.
Edwin Jackson went deeper in this game as Chacin was struggling with his pitch count. Since Edwin Jackson went 7.0 full innings, Dusty Baker was able to call on Brandon Kintzler for the 8th inning, and he had to carve through the heart of the Padres order. Kintzler made it look easy, and he set-up closer Sean Doolittle with the extreme bottom of the order to face the Padres 7-8-9 batters. Doolittle shreaded them up quickly for his 10th save as a National. Doolittle struck out the first two batters he faced, and induced weak contact for the final out of the game. Kintzler struck out one batter and also induced weak contact. With Ryan Madson on the DL, this is going to be your 8th and 9th inning combination and possibly Matt Albers or Sammy Solis for the 7th inning relief.
“At the end of the day, it’s about trusting your stuff, trusting what you have and letting the defense work behind you,” Edwin Jackson said.
The story of the game was really the resurgent Edwin Jackson returning to Petco Park and dominating in this game as he limited the baserunners and damage when he had runners in scoring position holding the Padres to 1-for-1o in those situations.
“You learn in time,” Dusty Baker said speaking of Edwin Jackson’s renewed success.“If you don’t learn and change your ways — you struggle forever.”
That comment by Dusty Baker could apply to almost any baseball player. Well said Dusty — well said.
The Nationals and their fans were informed today that principal owner Mark Lerner is recovering from cancer and had his leg amputated. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark and his family.