As good as the bullpen was yesterday and for a few weeks, the mid-April version of the bullpen showed up tonight and blew a 4-run lead while yielding 9-runs in total. It was an absolute meltdown that began with Trevor Rosenthal‘s three consecutive walks in the 7th inning to allow a Nationals 4-run lead to evaporate. Tanner Rainey was able to finish the 7th inning and kept the game tied at 8-8. Then the Nats scored in the bottom of the 7th inning to go ahead with a score of 9-8, but that lead disappeared quickly. Who was going to pitch the 8th inning was the question to be answered with Rainey already used and Wander Suero unavailable. Manager Dave Martinez went to Joe Ross who gave up 4-runs to make the score 12-9, and Matt Grace gave up the final run of the game to make it 13-9 as the five game winning streak came to an end.
“Looking back at it, after I came out of the inning it was really a small mechanical tweak that I think will be an easy fix,” Rosenthal said. “It’s just a matter of timing, and it just seemed like I was a little bit early on my timing and trying to make an adjustment and get everything to sync up. Just wasn’t able to get it there quite quick enough, but I think it’ll be something to come back tomorrow, and I’ll be able to figure it out fairly easily.”
There was a very scary moment in the game when Victor Robles was removed from the game in the second inning as he suddenly went down to a knee in the outfield. We later learned it was due to dehydration, and he was replaced by Michael Taylor.
“[Robles] got dehydrated, got real dizzy and you can’t mess with those things like that,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He was very lightheaded, said his one eye, he lost focus. We got worried a little bit.”
As good as the defense has been lately, Taylor was picked on all night as the Braves ran on him three times. The first time was Freddie Freeman running from 2nd to home on a single, and Taylor buried the throw into the back of the mound for an error as the ball skipped away. Later it was Dansby Swanson who tested Taylor’s arm on a single that he tried to stretch into a double, and Taylor lackadaisically tossed the ball into second base instead of firing it in with urgency, and Swanson beat the throw. Then in the 7th inning, Freddie Freeman tested Taylor’s arm on a shallow flyball, and the Braves first baseman tagged-up from second base as Taylor caught the ball flat-footed and with nothing behind the throw. He was not close to throwing out Freeman. It was very disappointing to see the way Taylor played in this game.
In a week where you have seen Max Scherzer pitch with a broken nose and Victor Robles make a sliding catch in the “Bermuda Triangle” while risking a collision, and others pitching to exhaustion, where was Taylor’s effort?
For Taylor, he was also awful at the plate going 0-4 with 2 strikeouts and 4 men left-on-base. The Nats had 11 hits, 5 walks, and a hit-by-pitch, and team was 5-14 in RISP spots while scoring 9-runs and Taylor did not contribute to any offense. The Taylor for Robles substitution was a managerial decision instead of using Gerardo Parra, and this proved costly on defense and offense.
The Nats starter, Anibal Sanchez, completed 6.0 innings and had an 8-4 lead in the books, and a win looked like it was going to happen for the Nats but we were once again reminded that the bullpen still has its issues.