In this game, you knew one run would do it, and the Nats were shutout by a masterful pitching performance by Aaron Nola. The Washington Nationals had two golden opportunities and could not score in this 2-0 shutout. Max Scherzer was excellent also but threw one outside cutter that didn’t cut and it was pulled for a 2-run home run in the 7th inning. Scherzer was actually working on a controversial one-hitter until that homer.
The Nationals had more hits than the Phillies, and as baseball usually does — it will break your heart. The only ball that flew was Odubel Herrera’s home run which was to rightfield. Leftfield had a breeze blowing down from Half Street that knocked down a Juan Soto oppo flyball to the wall and the same with a Wilmer Difo fly to the wall in the leftfield corner.
“It was blowing in [from leftfield],” manager Dave Martinez said. “Even Difo hit his ball pretty good too. Soto hit two balls good. Typically those will have a chance. You get those days. I like the way we’re playing. Playing with a lot of energy.”
The Nationals had an early chance when Spencer Kieboom led-off the third inning with a double and was bunted to third base by Max Scherzer with one out. Adam Eaton stepped in with a chance at a productive out to score a run and he struck-out. In the 8th inning, Eaton redeemed himself with his first career hit (1-14) off of a tiring Nola for a double. Trea Turner walked, and with Nola on fumes and Bryce Harper stepped in Phillies manager Gabe Kapler stayed with Nola which was a gutsy move. On Nola’s final pitch on the day he struck-out Bryce Harper on his 102nd pitch as Harper represented the winning run.
“We had a chance to pick up some big runs and we couldn’t do it,” Dave Martinez said. “We talk about it a lot staying in the middle of the field. Infield’s in — try to get a flyball, and try to put the ball in play. Just want to put the ball in play — we couldn’t do that. Like I said, Nola’s tough.”
Opportunities and missed opportunities were the difference in this game which felt like a playoff game. Credit to both pitchers as one team was going to win this game which would feel like a gut punch to the team that lost this one.
The Nationals bullpen pitched the last two inning for the Nationals and looked great between Wander Suero and Greg Holland. In fact Holland struck out all three batters he faced for his best outing of the season. The bullpen was certainly short-handed due to covering for Stephen Strasburg yesterday, and in the rain-shorted game on Tuesday which has put 11-innings on this bullpen in the previous two games.
“These [relievers] come up to me and tell me they are available,” Davey Martinez said. “But I know better. So we try to get some guys off so we have them tomorrow.”
Dave Martinez did acknowledge that Sean Doolittle pitched today and looked good and that Ryan Madson was getting close. The bullpen needs their horses back at the back of the bullpen. Notable that Koda Glover was not used today while Suero pitched three days in a row going 1/3 of an inning on Tuesday, 2 innings yesterday, and an inning today.
Nats have been shutout 11 times in 2018. 4 times with Scherzer pitching.
— Navy Yard Nats (@NavyYardNats) August 23, 2018
The nearly 30,000 fans in attendance were treated to an exceptional pitcher’s duel, but since most of them were Nats fans they exited with an empty feeling.