This game seemed to be heading towards a blow-out as the Nats had a 5-1 lead and were putting on runners most of the game … then the 6th inning happened where Max Scherzer unraveled and gave up a 3-run bomb to ex-Nats catcher Pedro Severino. The score ratcheted to 5-4, and Scherzer returned for the 7th inning at a 96-pitch count after he struggled in the 6th. Sure enough Max blew his own lead, and it looked dire until the Orioles with 2 outs in the 8th inning threw away a routine grounder to score Juan Soto for the final run of the game to make it a 6-5 win and a series win.
The Nats left 7-runners on-base in the eight hole with Michael A. Taylor and 4 strikeouts, and with Wilmer Difo as the only other starter who went hitless in the 9-hole. The Nats had 17 baserunners and 7 came from walks and 2 by HBPs, and the team only scored 6 runs with one of them coming from that error. In total, the team had a dozen runners left-on-base.
Much credit to the combo of Tanner Rainey and Daniel Hudson for a combined five strikeouts and only one ball-in-play to earn the hold and save to seal this win with a one-run lead. They also allowed the other seven pitchers get a day-off although Will Harris did get up in the sixth inning but never entered the game.
Scherzer got his 172nd career win the unconventional way. He has never taken a loss in a game in his career when his team gets him at least five runs. In this one, Max was locked in early but he started to struggle at around 80 pitches with his command. His ERA now stands at 3.71 in this small sample size season.
There was some early drama with homeplate umpire Will Little as Orioles catcher Chance Sisco was framing any ball that was close to the zone, and he got some calls that were #*$ing off several people in the Nats dugout who went off on Little. Dave Martinez and others were jawboning him in unison from the dugout and from the stands where Nats players were also sitting per COVID rules. Davey could be heard clearly yelling repeatedly, “Pay attention to the game!” It was hitting coach Kevin Long who was thrown out of the game.
Keep in mind that Soto moved up to the two-spot in the lineup, and between Trea Turner and Soto, they scored five of the teams six runs. The duo was on-base a total of six times to create many RBI opportunities. Turner led-off the game with an 11-pitch walk, and the Orioles starter, John Means, was pulled with only two-outs in the first inning and a 3-0 deficit.
One observation watching Os skipper Brandon Hyde is that he managed this six game season series against the Nats like it was the playoffs. On the other hand, Davey Martinez left starters in too long and lost that August 8th game by putting Sean Doolittle into a game with a 3-0 lead that really turned that weekend series around with a hard to swallow bullpen loss. This game saw a 5-1 lead disappear, but maybe the luck changed with the Orioles error that pushed across the winning run.
After the players exit the clubhouse, they will board their first flight of the season and head to Atlanta for a 3-game series featuring Anibal Sanchez, Austin Voth, and Erick Fedde as the projected starters. Howie Kendrick did not appear in this game, and according to manager Dave Martinez his “hammies were tight.”