Nobody would say Patrick Corbin was good today as he gave up 5 earned runs over 5 1/3 innings — but he deserved better. Corbin’s defense did not make some plays, and at an inopportune time the home plate umpire, Chris Conroy, had an inconsistent strike zone (graphic below) on the inside edge and throughout the outing. One crucial miss by the umpire turned into two runs. Extra pitches were tacked on when outs were not made plus the Nats defensive alignments all series by not protecting the corner infield on the pull side was suspect. In a tie game, Wander Suero took the loss after he gave up two runs via a HBP on an 0-2 pitch, a single on an 0-2 pitch, and then the two-run single with two outs which was the ultimate difference in this 7-5 loss.
The Nationals did not help themselves with an inside-the-park-home-run on a line drive that was not caught by Gerardo Parra, but Parra was the offensive hero of the game for the Nats as he cranked a two-run home run with a single and a walk. The defense did not make some other plays as Christian Walker hit a flyball that fell in between Parra and rightfielder Adam Eaton. Walker went on to score on an Adam Jones double. You cannot give away runs like the Nationals did and expect to win.
There were several bright spots in the game like Andrew Stevenson‘s pinch-hit oppo single, and he is now batting .333 (5-15) for his Nats’ team after dominating in Triple-A Fresno. For the bullpen, Daniel Hudson came in to relieve Corbin with runners on the corners and one out, and he stranded both runners in a season that has been magical as he has stranded 26-of-the-27 runners he has inherited this season. Hunter Strickland looked good too with no help from the ump as he had a scoreless 8th inning. It was Suero who did not do his job, and that was the ultimate difference.
A loss would not be complete without some criticism of the manager, and Davey Martinez was second guessed a lot. In the top of the 6th inning, the Nationals had bases loaded and two outs and Corbin hit for himself and grounded out. Should Martinez have inserted a pinch-hitter in that spot? Maybe, as you are limited by bench bats with Stevo, Victor Robles, Adrian Sanchez, and Kurt Suzuki. Perhaps the most impactful non-move was not pulling Suero when the hot hitting Adam Jones stepped to the plate with 2-outs in the 7th inning? Can you go to a rested Fernando Rodney there or Hunter Strickland? Sure you could but with two outs you hope Suero does his job as he was well-rested and had good matchups.
“[Suero] gets to two strikes, and he just couldn’t finish the hitters off today,” Martinez said.
The Nats fly out shortly to San Francisco for a three game series.