Facing NL strikeout leader A.J. Burnett, the Nationals’ offense continued to be middling, mustering up only one run. In the team’s last six games, they have scored a combined ten runs. Ryan Zimmerman made his return from the DL today, but was hitless and contributed little. Jayson Werth missed another game with his hamstring injury, meaning the Nationals still do not have the full starting lineup healthy. Will the return of Werth spark the Nats’ bats? All we know is that they were certainly asleep in today’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Danny Espinosa‘s RBI single (+9.3%)
It stands to reason that the Nats’ only run-scoring play, especially one that tied the game early, was the most important hit. With runners on first and second with two outs, Espinosa singled to score Adam LaRoche, tying the game, but Tyler Moore was thrown out trying to reach third base and the inning ended. In terms of pure Win Probability Added, this makes the play even more impressive, given that it was still a very influential play despite ending the inning.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Jordy Mercer‘s two-run homer (-27.2%)
I followed today’s game along with a Pirates fan friend of mine. He checked the score on his phone, and informed me that the 1-1 tie had been broken by a two-run homer “by some guy I’ve never heard of.” Indeed, the shortstop Mercer is a relatively obscure player, a third round pick in 2008 who spent the last five years in the minors before making his MLB debut last season. Today was his 2013 debut, and he doubled his career home run total with a two-run bomb off of Ross Detwiler that would leave the score at its eventual final.
Champ of the Game: After a long stay as the Chump of the Game, LaRoche (+5.8%) has now claimed the crown as Champ twice since breaking out of his slump. He was 2-3 with a walk and a run scored. Mercer (+22.4%) led the way for Pittsburgh with his home run, which was his only hit of the night.
Chump of the Game: Detwiler (-27.5%) wasn’t particularly bad, allowing three runs in five innings on nine hits and two walks while striking out seven, but his WPA suffered as a result of lacking run support. A (dis)honorable mention goes to Zimmerman, who was 0-4 with 4 Ks in his return to the lineup. The Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez (-8.5%) struggled, going 0-4 with a strikeout.