Another Friday night, another great starting pitching performance, but this time the Braves’ pen outdid the Natspos pen at throwing gasoline on the fire, and Our Heros fell 5-4 in 10 innings.
R.A. Dickey hooked up with Max Scherzer to deliver a classic pitcher’s duel through 7 innings. Both were perfect through 3, and in the 4th, the Braves scratched out a run, with Ender Inciarte leading off with a double for the first baserunner of the game, followed by Brandon Phillips singling him home, when a diving Daniel Murphy couldn’t prevent the grounder from trickling off his glove into center.
The Nats tied it up in the sixth, when Stephen Drew doubled and Matt Wieters singled him home. However, in the top of the 7th, Freddie Freeman homered off Scherzer, somehow pulling an inside hanging slider down the line and managing to keep it fair. After Dickey worked through some two out trouble in the bottom of the inning, the Braves seemed to break it open in the 8th, when with two outs, Inciarte worked a walk off Scherzer, and Phillips blooped a single to right, then took second on a defensive indifference. Oliver Perez came on to face Freeman, who then drove both home. 4-1 Braves.
Jose Ramirez worked around a one out walk in the bottom of the inning, striking out two, but left the heart of the Nats order for Jim Johnson to face in the ninth. The following occurred in what seemed like the space of 45 seconds, or maybe it was a gut-wrenching hour and a half, time is so damn subjective, isn’t it? Bryce Harper singled, Ryan Zimmerman walked, Daniel Murphy singled Harper home, followed by Anthony Rendon singling Zimmerman home. A Chris Heisey grounder to third did not score Murphy, but with Johan Cmargo having to check Murphy to make sure he didn’t break for home, the double play could not be completed, and Matt Wieters flied to center to score Murphy. Wilmer Difo then singled, moving Heisey to third and finally Johnson was lifted, having blown his MLB leading 7th save. Can’t officially blame Snitker, as he was tossed during the Wieters AB for arguing a check swing call with the third base ump (and he was right to argue, as Wieters obviously swung, turning a 2-2 count into a 3-1.) Sam Freeman finally came in to get the last out.
After a top of the 10th that saw Inciarte walk to lead off the frame, followed by a Phillips sac bunt and an intentional walk to Fab Five Freddie, Matt Kemp meekly grounded into a DP to set the stage for the end. Adrian Sanchez collected his first MLB hit off Ian Krol. Bryce Harper lined out, but Zimmerman singled Sanchez to third and Daniel Murphy hit a deep fly ball over a drawn in Kemp for the walk off.
This was the type of game that turns seasons around. Instead of having momentum by winning two straight and beating Washington’s Ace, we now have to show up this afternoon to face the Nats’ OTHER ace, and deal with a tough loss to go with that. We may look back at this game in September with a ‘What Might Have Been….’ view.
Natspos (and Jim Johnson for today at least) Delenda Est.