In a riveting game that completely overshadowed the “Take Back the Park” sideshow, pinch hitter Wilson Ramos sent the vast majority of the 34,377 fans in attendance home happy with a line drive single on a 1-2 pitch, with two out in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending Steve Lombardozzi home with the winning run as the Washington Nationals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3.
Link to tonight’s MLB box score.
The walk-off win, the Nats fifth, sent the crowd into raucous cheers of joy as Ramos spread his arms wide and “flew” to first base. Instead of what some feared would be a tense showdown in the stands, all fans in attendance, regardless of allegiance, were treated to a dramatic, if unevenly played contest.
After doubling in the third, Washington starter Stephen Strasburg, who dominated in the first three innings, lost his velocity and command. For the first time in his career, two right-handed batters, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz, took the Washington ace deep. Strasburg did recover to complete six innings while surrendering three runs.
The Nats fought back to tie the game, 3-3, on a Jesus Flores double in the bottom of the 8th inning. After an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Xavier Nady, both Ian Desmond and Lombardozzi swung at Philadelphia reliver Chad Qualls‘ first pitch and grounded out to stunt the rally. While replays showed Phillies catcher Ruiz pulled off the plate early on Desmond’s grounder, both players approached a potential game-winning at-bat poorly, especially against a sinker ball pitcher who left balls up to more patient hitters.
In extra innings, relivers Tyler Clippard and Ryan Perry shut down the Phils without at hit. Their performance earned Perry his first victory as a National and set the stage for yet another dramatic Nationals’ win, their eighth one-run victory at home.
Champ of the Game: Ramos, who battled back from a 1-2 count to get a hanging slider he could drive.
Honorable mentions go to Tom Gorzelanny, Craig Stammen, Henry Rodriguez, Clippard and Perry who held the Phillies scoreless for five innings, allowing the Nationals to mount a comeback. For th Phillies, starter Kyle Kendrick struggled, but only allowed one run and departed with a chance to defeat Strasburg had his bullpen held the 3-1 lead.
Chump of the Game: The umpires, working as three-man crew due to crew chief’s Joe West’s illness, were inconsistent and out of position often, prompting Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel’s ejection in the first inning and earning Davey Johnson’s ire for the missed call on Ruiz’s phantom tag.
Dishonorable mentions go to the Phillies’ bullpen and Nats situational hitting, leaving 14 men on base. They did, however, hit .333 (4-12) with runners in scoring position.
Unsung hero: The Nationals’ fans, who sounded like a spirited home crowd, and stuck around for the joyful ending. Also a shout out to Nats’ security as it appeared incidents of fan misbehavior were kept to a minimum.