They say you need to play to the last out, and the Chicago Cubs did just that. It is proof that you should never give up. They took advantage of every pitch and play that went their way. The Nationals played some of their best baseball for 8 ½ innings followed by some of their worst for a fateful ½ inning. A pitcher’s duel of Max Scherzer versus Cole Hamels turned into a pitcher’s fool when Ryan Madson tried to pitch while he was unable to grip his off-speed pitches resulting in two hit-by-pitch batters that essentially scored the tying and winning runs since the Nationals were winning by a score of 3-0 at the time. An umpire who had been giving borderline pitches to the Cubs did so at crucial times many times in this game. A middle infielder inserted for his defense failed to make a routing play that was somehow ruled a hit.
If you want to see a crucial strike 3 missed by umpire Alan Porter, look at this 3-2 pitch to Mark Reynolds that was inches under his knees. If Reynolds walked, it would have been bases loaded and Michael Taylor would have been given a chance against the lefty Justin Wilson.
Ryan Madson could be seen as a warrior who fought through pain or as a selfish player who let his team and fanbase down because he could not pitch to his full potential due to the back pain. Madson was a strike away from securing this win so maybe his best on Sunday night was the Nats best chance. We will never know.
“I tried to fight through it,” Madson said. “Everybody’s dealing with things all the time, but this one’s been big. It cuts out power on my back leg as I go down, so I lose position and control of the ball because of that. That’s why the last couple games I’ve been pulling balls to the left, if you go back and watch the video.”
In Ryan Madson‘s defense, he painted a strike 3 on Willson Contreras in a 1-2 count before he plunked Contreras for a costly hit-by-pitch. Here is the pitch you will see highlighted in the right hand corner. That’s a strike and it was all night. Alan Porter did not call it for some reason.
The Nationals and Alan Porter have a history of missed calls and some bizarre behavior like last July when he blocked Daniel Murphy‘s view and Porter refused to move. If you don’t think an umpire can change the outcome of the game, think again. Last night was another example.
When Willson Contreras stepped into the batter’s box with 2-outs, he represented the tying run. If Ryan Madson knew he could not throw his off-speed, why throw the curveball to Contreras when the count went to 2-2?
“I mean, it’s a gut punch,” Max Scherzer said. “It’s a gut punch.”
In a post-mortem of a game like this, all you can ask is why?!?!? There is plenty to be upset about like Alan Porter’s strike zone, Wilmer Difo‘s booted grounder, Ryan Madson not pulling himself out of the game, and several other missed opportunities.
“All in all, for 8 2/3 innings we played really good baseball,” said manager Dave Martinez, as beaten down as he has looked this season. “Really good baseball. We left here with one win, we should have had three. I’m proud of those guys, and I’m not giving up on any of them.”
According to reports, manager Dave Martinez was unaware that Ryan Madson was suffering from back pain last night that spread to his leg and also caused him to not grip his curveball pitch. NatsTown is in pain also.