How many times have we written the Washington Nationals had opportunities to blow a game open and failed? It happened again as both Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman stepped up to the plate at different points of the game with 2-men on-base and failed. Tanner Roark gave up all 4-runs, and he just was not sharp during this outing. Roark pitched the 6th inning in a tie game only to give up the winning run via a long home run on a hanging curveball. The game was only close because of Michael Taylor who crushed an opposite field 3-run home run that tied the game in the 4th inning. Did we mention that Howie Kendrick was on-base 3 times last night via 2 hits and a walk? Kendrick was batting in the 2-hole and did not score a run at no fault of Howie’s.
The Nationals have fallen to four games under .500 and they just cannot find the big hit during this losing streak or the perfect pitch when needed.
In managerial strategy, Bruce Bochy was willing to intentionally walk Bryce Harper with first base open to pitch to Zimmerman, but earlier in the game Dave Martinez had the same situation with Brandon Belt and the Nats decided to pitch to him with first base open instead of going righty-righty on Evan Longoria and Roark threw Belt a meatball that was rocketed out for a 2-run home run.
This game really put Michael Taylor on display in all facets of the game as he flashed the leather on some great defensive plays and then hit the game tying 3-run home run.
“Oppo home run from Michael was huge,” Dave Martinez said. “We just can’t get that big hit.”
Martinez talked about Ryan Zimmerman hitting the groundball hard in the 8th inning doubleplay that killed a potential big inning with two runners on base, but there was no mention that Zim swung over the ball that was right down the middle of the zone on the first pitch he saw. It is a shame because Howie Kendrick was patient in his at-bat and he drove a double in the gap in that same inning. Zimmerman, after the game, acknowledged that he should have done damage on the pitch.
“Pitch right down the middle,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Hit it hard. Just hit it on the ground. I got a pitch I could do damage with, and I just didn’t do it.”
“We ain’t going to keep our heads down,” Dave Martinez said. “Things are going to go our way.”
Onward to tomorrow for this series finale.