This game was nearly over before it began. After making the third out of the first inning, Bryce Harper was controversially ejected (look for a post on that one soon) for complaining about a check swing call, and Gio Gonzalez did not begin the home half of the inning well. Starling Marte hit a home run on Gonzalez’s first pitch, and a double, error, and walk later, the bases were loaded with no outs. At that point, the Nationals’ win probability was only 20.2%. However, Gonzalez rebounded to escape the inning with only a one-run deficit, and the offense came alive again to pick up the slack. The team combined for eleven hits, two home runs, and six runs scored as they battled adversity to beat the Pirates, 6-2.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Danny Espinosa‘s two-run home run (+25.1%)
With the score tied at one after an Espinosa sacrifice fly in the second, Ryan Zimmerman singled to start the third inning. Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore made outs, but Espinosa made sure Zimmerman would not be stranded. He dumped Wandy Rodriguez‘s pitch in the left field bleachers for his third home run of the year, which gave the Nats a 3-1 lead. With two extra-base hits in his last two games, Espinosa has started playing better on offense of late, although his season average is still only .185. Nevertheless, his home run was important for his offensive confidence and the team’s confidence in him. Similarly, Tyler Moore’s three-run homer (+16.5%) was important for his confidence after he struck out twice with the bases loaded yesterday.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Russell Martin‘s RBI double (-20.1%)
Trailing 3-1, the Pirates made a comeback attempt in the bottom of the sixth. First baseman Gaby Sanchez singled to start the frame against Gonzalez, and Martin scored him with a double in the next at-bat. Trailing by one with a runner in scoring position with no outs, the Pirates looked to be in prime position to tie the game, but Gonzalez induced a flyout and two groundouts to preserve the score and strand Martin.
Champ of the Game: Espinosa (+24.9%) takes this title, mainly by virtue of his home run. In total, he was 1-3 with a sacrifice and three RBI. For Pittsburgh, Martin (+15.8%) was 1-3 with an RBI and a walk.
Chump of the Game: Ian Desmond (-4.5%) did not have a particularly bad game, going 1-5 in the first game after losing his hitting streak yesterday, but stranded a few runners and was unfortunate enough to be the worst guy on a day where every Nat with at least three at-bats got a hit. The Pirates’ Bryan Morris (-19.3%) allowed Moore’s three-run home run, quadrupling the Nationals’ lead and making a Pirates comeback quite a bit harder.