The 8th inning meltdown happened and so did a 6-run 10th inning! Magic # is 5!

Photo by Tom Sileo for TalkNats

Baseball games sometimes go off-script, and you must improvise to write a new ending. This was one of those games that almost got away. Stephen Strasburg threw a 7.0 inning shutout, and the ball was handed to Fernando Rodney for the 8th inning with a 4-0 lead. By the time the dust settled, Rodney gave up four runs and exited with a runner on second base. Hunter Strickland made sure that inherited runner did not score, and Wander Suero threw a scoreless 9th inning to push the game to extra innings. This is where the bottom of the order got going with a lead-off single by Ryan Zimmerman and a single by Victor Robles then the seldom used Brian Dozier delivered the game-winning RBI with a hard single to leftfield and then the floodgates opened. The Nats scored six runs in that 10th inning capped by a bases loaded double by pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki for the 100th RBI of the season by the combined efforts of the Nationals catchers. The final score was 10-4.

The offensive hero was Brian Dozier who had not started a game in a week, and he stroked that single in a two strike count as the game winner. Ryan Zimmerman was 3-6 in the game, Adam Eaton 3-6, Yan Gomes 2-5, Victor Robles 2-5, and Asdrubal Cabrera was 2-3. Unfortunately, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto went hitless in the game, but their teammates picked them up.

Some discouraging news in the game besides the Rodney meltdown, Asdrubal Cabrera exited the game early after he was sent home on a single and jammed his ankle on the slide as his leg got tangled with the catcher’s leg. Cabrera was out by a few feet on another bad “send” by third base coach Bob Henley. There were two other close plays at the plate that went the Nats way, but this play hurt Cabrera who is now day-to-day.

“Hurt his ankle,” manager Dave Martinez said about Cabrera. “We will see how he feels tomorrow. He’s pretty sore.  [It happened] on the slide.”

In the Wild Card hunt, the Nationals now have a 4.0 game lead over the Cubs, and a 5½ game lead over the Mets. The Nats “Magic” number to clinch a Wild Card berth is at 5 which means any combination of a Nats win or a Cubs loss ratchets that number down by one. Today the Nats knocked two numbers off of that total, and the Nats are back to 17 games over. 500 at 85-68.

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