The Nationals were 2-for-8 with runners-in-scoring-position and those 2-hits belonged to Pedro Severino. That means the Nationals had 6 additional opportunities to score, and they did not take advantage of the situations in a game in which the Nationals stole 5 bases to move up for chances to score. Anthony Rendon was ejected from the game after a strikeout, he then flipped his bat in front of homeplate umpire Marty Foster. After Rendon was rejected, it was manager Dave Martinez who argued on Rendon’s behalf and was also ejected.
“Awesome,” Bryce Harper said about his manager’s support for his players. “That’s what it’s all about. He went out there and he fights for his players, and we saw that right there. I was talking to my dad yesterday, and [Dave Martinez] is a manager that you want to fight for, and you want to win for. Just the little things that he does that make you want to run through a wall for him and want to win ballgames for him. So that was huge seeing that and knowing he has our back, and we have his.”
Replacing Rendon was Matt Reynolds who looked like a dear in the headlights leaving two runners on-base, but it was Ryan Zimmerman who added two more runners stranded on-base to give him 20 stranded runners this season in just his 6th game started. Bryce Harper hit his league leading 5th home run which put the Nats ahead in the bottom of the 6th inning, but Brandon Kintzler quickly gave up two runs in the top of the 7th inning to blow the save and lose the game.
There were a lot of positives in the game, but when the Nationals took the lead, Chip Hale who stepped in as the manager after Martinez’s ejection allowed Kintzler to take the inning without a back-up.
“I have all the faith in the world in Kintzler,” Dave Martinez said. “He is going to be fine. We will continue to run him out there in high leverage situations.”
Okay, there you have it. Gio Gonzalez had a well-pitched game and was good enough to win, but he did not have the run support and exited at 5 1/3 innings in a 1-to-1 game.
In another key point in the game, Ryan Zimmerman hit for himself against Jeurys Familia with Bryce Harper on second base in the 8th inning. Zim was gifted a 2-ball count as the second pitch was a clear strike so Familia had to come in with more of the plate and missed location on the 3rd pitch that was a center cut 96 mph fastball. Zimmerman did not swing. Instead Zimmerman tapped pitch #6 back to the pitcher.
The Nationals did not get any other runners on-base after Harper reached in the 8th inning. Another big play in the game was early in the 2nd inning when Pedro Severino singled and Brian Goodwin was thrown out at the plate by Juan Lagares on a 235 foot rope to his catcher.
Trea Turner replaced Adam Eaton in the line-up as the lead-off man, and got on-base in 2 of his 4 at-bats with a hit and a walk. In the first inning, he started the game with a great push-bunt single down the first base line and promptly stole second base but was stranded on some questionable strike calls that set down Rendon, Harper and Zimmerman all on strikeouts. The Nationals have been agitated with the strike zone since Trea was ejected from the previous game arguing a strike call. Rendon was as candid as ever after the game and had a message for the umpires:
“It’s just terrible because if you’re a younger [player], you’re trying to stay in the [big] leagues, and when you have these strikeouts, the team doesn’t look at [errant] strikes [called by the] umpires. So they’re immediately just going to say, ‘You struck out five, six, times in the last ten,’ and they’re going to send you down [to the Minor Leagues],” Rendon said. “But for umpires, it doesn’t look like they’re going to get sent down. They don’t get cut. They don’t get benched. They don’t get sent down to Triple-A, whatever it might be, and we have video of all of the called strikes and whatever pitch that it might be, ball or strike, and none of these balls are on the plate. We have video of [the] overhead view, right behind the pitcher’s mound, and it’s just sad that there’s no accountability for [the umpires].”
Dave Martinez gave his two cents on the umpiring.
“I don’t criticize any umpires, I don’t,” Martinez said. “They’re all really good in my eyes. I’ve been in this league a long time. I know most of them personally. That’s beside the point. I’m going to protect the players. We’re going to go out there and compete every day — but when I feel players need to be protected, I’ll do that.”
Crew chief Joe West spoke on behalf of his umpire Marty Foster who ejected Rendon and Martinez.
“When he called strike three, [Rendon] threw the bat,” West said. “You have some options there, and Marty [Foster] felt that what he did was showing him up worse than an equipment violation would have been, and that’s why he ejected him. You have to do something, or he loses all respect from the players. I understand that he could have [done nothing], but he chose that this was the penalty for what he did. So it was more involved than just a strikeout [and] throwing equipment.”