As said by our own Marty Niland, “Two innings two late.”
Even a 2-out homer by Ryan Zimmerman in the bottom of the 9th couldn’t lift the Nats over the 1st-place Orioles last night, falling just short of a full comeback.
With some changes in the lineup (Danny Espinosa sitting, Steve Lombardozzi starting at second, Ian Desmond hitting 5th), it seemed as though they had finally found a formula to create some offense, putting up 5 runs over the course of the game. However, that would not be enough to overcome the 6-run deficit created by Ross Detwiler in his worst outing of the season.
Going just 5 innings, Detwiler gave up 6 runs on 9 hits, serving up 2 home runs in the process. The struggles come as a shock, as Detwiler has quietly been one of the greatest up-and-comers in all of baseball, leading the National League in ERA through 4 starts (.056). However, the location was just not there last night, and Detwiler would be pinch-hit for by Tyler Moore in the bottom of the 5th. He would be responsible for all of the Orioles scoring.
The bats would then come alive in the following inning with two outs. Tthe Nats would finally have their first multi-hit inning, with singles by Roger Bernadina and Moore, as well as an RBI-single by Lombardozzi. Bryce Harper would ground out to end the inning, but the Nationals finally had some life.
The run-scoring would then really take off in the 6th, started by a Zimmerman double. After an Adam LaRoche walk, Rick Ankiel would double on a line drive to center field, plating Zimmerman and advancing LaRoche to third. Then Carlos Maldonado (making his Big League season debut) and Bernadina would drive in LaRoche and Ankiel, respectively, bringing the Nats within 2 headed into the 7th.
After a scoreless 8th by Ryan Perry, Henry Rodriguez would hold down the fort in the 9th (for a change), keeping the score at 6-4, and it would be up to the top of the lineup to bring this game even. After groundouts by Lombardozzi and Harper, Zimmerman would take Jim Johnson deep to left field, bringing the score within one. But on a full count and two outs, LaRoche would strike out and seal the victory for the Orioles.
Champ of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman looked tremendous, collecting 3 hits (2 for extra bases) including the big 9th-inning home run. Zimmerman has had an extremely unlucky season, so it’s good to see him producing.
Chump of the Game: Ross Detwiler only went 5 innings and had his worst start of the season. He needs to bounce back next week against Atlanta.
For the Orioles, Matt Weiters was 0-4. As a Number 5 hitter he can’t afford to have these kinds of nights if the Orioles are to finally have a good year past May.
Unsung Hero: Lombardozzi had a tremendous night at the plate, which can get overlooked after Zimmerman’s 9th-inning shot.
Markakis’ 2-run shot could also get overlooked due to the explosive night of teammate Jones.