More is generally better. But for Washington Nationals fans, more baseball was decidedly worse on Saturday, as the New York Yankees outlasted the Nationals 5-3 in 14 innings Saturday at Nationals Park.
It was Washington’s second straight loss to New York after coming home from a 6-0 road trip. Unlike Friday’s 7-2 Yankees win, the Nationals had plenty of opportunities to walk away with the win, but the elements of their game so well-executed on the road trip did not show up Saturday.
The big blow for New York was a two-run double in the top of the 14th inning by Mark Teixeira off Brad Lidge (0-1), in Lidge’s second sub-par performance in as many days against the Yankees. Jayson Nix led off the inning with an infield single and stole second base before Derek Jeter singled him to third. After Lidge fanned Curtis Granderson, Teixeira roped a double off the right field wall to score both baserunners.
The Nationals had a chance to tie or win in the bottom of the inning, getting one-out singles from Jesus Flores and Steve Lombardozzi. But Danny Espinosa flew out and Bryce Harper grounded out to end the game and cap the 19-year-old rookie’s worst game in the majors. Harper’s 0-for-7 day included the dreaded “Olympic Rings,” a five-strikeout performance, including three whiffs against New York starting pitcher Andy Pettitte.
The 40-year-old Pettitte threw seven very effective innings but lost his chance for a win in the eighth inning after Cory Wade came on to pitch with the Yankees ahead 3-2. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Wade left a fastball up to Ian Desmond, who hammered the ball into the left-field stands to tie the game at 3. Tyler Moore followed with a walk and, after the Yankees summoned Boone Logan to pitch to pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche, Moore swiped second to get into scoring position. LaRoche then served a single into right that appeared to give the Nationals the lead, but Moore was incorrectly called out at the plate by umpire Tim Timmons, whose day-long inconsistency earned him chirping from both benches over the course of the day.
Both bullpens pitched very well from that point until the 14th, with New York’s Freddy Garcia (1-2) throwing two hitless innings to pick up the win.
The Nationals had scored first in the second inning thanks to Flores, who somehow doubled off the base of the left-field wall despite shattering his bat, scoring Michael Morse and Moore. The Yankees got an unearned run back in the fourth, scoring when Desmond booted a two-out grounder by Eric Chavez, who started in place of Alex Rodriguez. Chavez also drove in the go-ahead run for New York in the sixth against Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann, doubling to right to bring around Russell Martin.
Champ of the Game: Ian Desmond. It was questionable as to whether Desmond would even play the game, as a tight oblique made Davey Johnson wait before making out his lineup card. But without the shortstop’s clutch homer, the game would have ended a lot sooner. For New York, Pettitte made you wonder why he even bothered retiring the first time. Three of the Nationals’ five hits against the lefty were of the broken-bat variety and his carving up of Harper was unlike anything the rookie has seen all season.
Chump of the Game: Bryce Harper. Lidge drew serious consideration for once again failing to keep his team in the ballgame, but you can’t ignore the platinum sombrero Harper posted. To his credit, though, Harper did leave his at-bats in the dugout, making a stellar diving catch to end the 13th inning. For the Yankees, Wade almost got through his inning unscathed but let up, and Desmond made him pay.