With two home runs from Ryan Zimmerman, and one bomb from Juan Soto, the Washington Nationals were able to win it with some small ball in 11 innings. The final score was a 9-7 win in Tampa, and a split of this two-game series. The Nats had a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and then starter Patrick Corbin began his evening by issue three consecutive walks, and finished the inning with his team behind 3-2. Corbin would not let another run score in his 5.0 innings of work, but that also taxed the back of the bullpen that was tasked to hold a 5-3 lead, and that lead was courtesy of Zim who added his two home runs to get it to a 5-3 game. But Kyle Finnegan and Daniel Hudson gave up solo home runs to push the game to extra innings. The Nats bent but didn’t break.
Both Hudson and Brad Hand pitched multiple innings with huge pitch counts of 31 and 44 pitches respectively, and Huddy had the unfortunate blown save. Hand couldn’t protect the 2-run lead he was given in the 10th inning, so yes, it was Tanner Rainey with the heart-pumping save in the 11th inning after a leadoff walk. It was Rainey’s first career save, and he saved the win for Hand.
With the new rule of the runner on second base in extra innings, we saw in each inning that there is no such thing as a solo home run so you had to control the threat of a long ball, and it was a nerve-wracking extra inning duel after the Nats scored 2 runs in both frames in extra innings just to see the 10th inning lead disappear in a flash.
“These boys just battled,” manager Davey Martinez said. “They fought to the end. … I’m proud of these boys.”
After the game, the Nats’ manager got to talk about a win which was nice, because there have not been many of those. He turned around one question and harkened back to 2019, and maybe because this team’s 2021 record of 25-33 is identical to the 2019 mark. Yes, a set of very different circumstances.
“It’s never too late. It really isn’t,” Martinez said. “I hope that we proved that in ’19. I’ve seen it. I experienced it. We just got to get rolling. We got to have some things go our way. But we got to keep grinding, and that’s what you saw tonight. These guys grinded out at-bats, and they played really well at the end. So let’s build from that.”
For those of us waiting for a contribution from the entire team in a game, there were 6 different Nats players who had at least 1 RBI in this game. When is the last time you saw that in a Nats game? Even the players who had their struggles in this game made a positive contribution.
The team will jump on their Delta charter jet and head back to DC with an arrival time well after 3 a.m. as the team has a 4-game series starting tomorrow against the San Francisco Giants.