The game started off with some shaky starting pitching by Austin Voth as he lasted just 4 1/3 innings giving up 4-runs. The Nationals trailed by a 4-1 score until they tied it in the 9th inning setting up a dramatic ending that the home team was clearly hoping for another walk-off. For the game, Ryan Zimmerman hit three doubles and drove in two runs to surpass 1,000 RBI for his career, but it was Zimmerman in the 10th inning with a runner on 3rd base and one out with the golden opportunity to walk-off the game — and he popped up on the infield on a hanging slider from a left-handed pitcher. A pitch that was begging to be crushed. Baseball is an unforgiving game in “what have you done for me lately.” Zimmerman was handed the script and his character was set as the hero. He had already recorded two clutch hits in the game to help his team claw back into a tie. Royals’ manager Ned Yost intentionally walked Juan Soto to pitch to Zimmerman with runners on the corners. Conventionally, you might walk the bases loaded to have the force at home. Maybe this move was a little reminiscent of Joe Maddon in 2016 when he was walking the batter in front of Zimmerman . In this game, Royals’ pitchers walked Juan Soto three times in front of Zimmerman. Whether Yost’s decision was right or wrong pitching to Zimmerman in the 10th inning, it paid-off when Zim made weak contact to popup the ball on the infield. Yost was clearly hoping that Zimmerman would hit into an inning ending doubleplay, but sometimes it is better to be luckier than good as the player nicknamed Mr. Walk-off actually walked back to his dugout after he popped-up on a slider over the center of the plate for the second out of the inning.
The Nationals golden opportunity in that 10th inning started with an Adam Eaton leadoff single plus a balk sent him to second base. Stephen Strasburg entered as a pinch-hitter that allowed Eaton to then advance to 3rd base on a sacrifice bunt. Juan Soto was intentionally walked and that is when Zimmerman popped up. Eventually the Nationals loaded the bases and with two outs and a struggling pitcher it was Victor Robles who went first ball swinging against a pitcher who was wild. Robles rolled over a grounder to end the threat.
The Nationals luck unraveled in the 11th inning, and they lost by a final score of 7-4 which included two unearned runs via a 2-run throwing error by Zimmerman. It was a giveth and taketh affair for Zimmerman on this night. He was certainly the offensive star of the game in the boxscore, and Brian Dozier and Trea Turner also had big nights. Turner actually led off the game for the Nationals with a 453 foot home run, and he had three hits. The Nationals stranded 19 runners on the night while going 3-for-12 in RISP spots.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” Royals leftfielder Alex Gordon said of the 19 runners the Nationals stranded. “We gave them chances to get runs in. I guess good for us for stepping up and making the pitches count when we needed them.”
It seemed clear that Voth did not have much in the tank tonight and was lucky to make it through four innings giving up only two runs, but manager Dave Martinez brought Voth out for the 5th inning even after seeing his velo decreasing in the 4th inning. It was basically a carbon copy of Voth’s last start. Tonight, Voth only got one out in that 5th inning, and it was a defining point in the game with the managerial decision to send him out for that inning. The front of the bullpen was rested and Javy Guerra had to pitch with two inherited runners and only one out. As it turned out, the bullpen pitched 6 2/3 innings and only yielded one earned run. While the bullpen did their job as best they could with zero margin for error, it was the little things of poor situation hitting, the Zimmerman error, and Martinez’s decision to leave Voth in the game.
“Couldn’t get hits in a big moment,” Martinez said. “We got one hit, scored one run and left the bases loaded. We just couldn’t get that hit today. Once again, I’m proud of the boys for fighting. When we were down, we came back and fought. We had our opportunities all night. We just couldn’t capitalize.”
This was a game the Nationals had some big hits, but on this night a productive out with one out and a runner on third base would have won this game.