On the day when ace Stephen Strasburg was officially shut down following a disappointing start Friday night, the Washington Nationals (86-53) successfully overcame a treacherous outing by Ross Detwiler (L, 9-7) Saturday afternoon in a 7-6 extra-innings victory over the Miami Marlins (62-78). Though Miami is a whopping 24.5 games behind Washington in the NL East, this is a crucial victory for the Nats given the fact players had to sit through a 2 hour 33 minute rain delay.
The Marlins would get out to a quick lead to start the game, as Gorkys Hernandez and Giancarlo Stanton each jacked solo shots to put Miami up 2-0 in the 1st. Detwiler would continue to struggle in the 2nd, as he gave up a double, walk and RBI single to Donovan Solano that extended the lead to a worrisome 3-0.
Thankfully, the Nats responded in the 3rd, as a homer by Jesus Flores would cut the lead to a controllable 3-1 deficit. Washington would strike once more in the 4th after Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond would both single to put two runners quickly on base. While Desmond would later be stranded, Danny Espinosa successfully added to the home team’s cause with an RBI double to score Zimmerman.
Though the Nats had the lead cut to 3-2 as the 4th came to a close, Detwiler failed to settle down and keep the game within reach. He gave up two leadoff walks to Solano and Carlos Lee in the 5th, and a rare error by Adam LaRoche allowed the Marlins to tack another one on the board. Catcher John Buck would make matters worse for Washington as he smoked an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-2 in favor of Miami.
While the white-hot Bryce Harper hit a solo homerun in the bottom half of the 5th to bring the lead back to within two, the Marlins just wouldn’t go away, even against the mostly-reliable long reliever Craig Stammen in the 7th. Solano continued his dominant outing with a double to lead off the top of the inning, and a sac fly by Jose Reyes that brought Solano to third allowed the young second baseman to score on a Ryan Zimmerman error.
Despite the continued onslaught of runs by the black-clad squad from Miami, the Nats would strike back in the 8th against reliever A.J. Ramos. Ramos gave up a leadoff walk to Harper, and after manager Ozzie Guillen was forced to come out to the mound following a 2-0 count to Ryan Zimmerman, the Nats’ powerful third baseman would jack a 2-run shot on the very next pitch to bring Washington back within one run, 6-5. Michael Morse and LaRoche would each knock singles to put the go-ahead run aboard later in the inning, and after a fielder’s choice play, steal by Desmond, and intentional walk to Jose Flores, the bases were juiced for the Shark aka Roger Bernadina with two outs. Unfortunately, the Nats couldn’t convert and stranded all three runners, as Bernie would strike out to end the inning.
After the nearly three-hour rain delay aforementioned, Heath Bell came in to try to seal the game for the Fish. Most of the crowd had departed by this point, but the Nats began to play as if nothing had happened. While it took him seven pitches, the Bearded Wonder aka Jayson Werth would smash a 427 foot homer to straightaway center to tie the game! Bell would strike out the rest of the side, but thankfully for the Nats, the damage was done. Tie game headed into the 10th.
Drew Storen would come in and strike out the side himself, and after a couple of singles by LaRoche and Desmond and an intentional walk of Danny Espinosa, the bases were loaded for pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki. Unfortunately, the Nats wouldn’t convert here on a fielder’s choice that got LaRoche out at the plate. However, just two pitches later recent call-up Corey Brown successfully completed the comeback with a perfectly executed RBI single. Another Curly W in the books!
Champ of the Game: A bunch of champs for the Nats this afternoon, and while both Werth and Brown were clutch, Ryan Zimmerman gets the cake. He went 2-3 with two runs, two RBIs, and the homer to keep DC within reach.
For the Marlins, Donovan Solano was outstanding. He went 2-4 with a double, two runs, and an RBI.
Chump of the Game: Unfortunately, Ross Detwiler was the one to keep the Nats in trouble throughout the afternoon. Final line: 5IP, 7H, 5R (3ER), 3BB, 3K.
A.J. Flores was pretty terrible coming out of the bullpen for the away team, even worse than Bell in my opinion. Didn’t record an out and gave up the 2-run shot to Zimmerman in the 8th.
Unsung Hero: One extremely promising note is that reliever Christian Garcia looks like he’s here to stay! The Triple-A star pitched another solid inning of relief, recording two strikeouts and a groundout on just nine pitches of work.
Next Game: Tomorrow, 1:35PM at Nationals Park. Familiar face Ricky Nolasco (11-12, 4.64ERA) takes on Edwin Jackson (9-9, 3.63ERA) in the series finale between the two clubs. This will be a crucial start for Jackson as his inconsistencies have hindered him throughout this season and he’s coming off two straight winning decisions.