If this WPA graph were a rollercoaster, you’d throw up. If you watched the game, you might have.
Through 8.5 innings tonight, the Nats were looking great. Gio Gonzalez had a quality start, with three earned in 6.2 IP, and Adam LaRoche had hit two home runs. But in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Zimmerman committed his ninth error of the season and Rafael Soriano allowed two unearned runs to blow the save and send the game to extras. Fortunately, Chad Tracy bailed out the narrative and the Nationals with a solo homer in the top of the tenth and Drew Storen got his first save since blowing that fateful one in Game 5 of the NLDS. It was pretty touch-and-go there for a while, though. The Padres put runners on the corners with one out before Storen got a strikeout and a grounder that Ryan Zimmerman dropped, but still threw out Everth Cabrera to end it.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Chad Tracy’s solo home run (+42.4%)
The Goon Squad was struggling coming into tonight’s game. As a unit, it was hitting .154 coming into tonight, and had no RBIs. Tracy himself was hitting .162, thanks to a hit he got last night. He took Huston Street deep with two outs in the tenth, which marked the first RBI by any Nats pinch hitter this season. Perhaps a bench-wide regression to the mean is in order?
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Kyle Blanks‘ game-tying single (-41.9%)
With one out in the ninth, Ryan Zimmerman picked up a Chris Denorfia grounder on the run, but his tough throw pulled Adam LaRoche off the bag and put the runner on. It was ruled an error, but after the game, Zimmerman said “I would never complain about a play, but that’s not an E. Don’t know if they have [HOF 3B] Brooks Robinson as a scorekeeper here or what.” After another out, which would have ended the inning if not for the error, three straight Padres singled to score two runs and tie the game at five.
Champ of the Game: Of course, with the extra-inning, game-winning homer, Tracy (+42.4%) takes this cake. But had it not been for extras, it would have been LaRoche (+33.1%), who hit two home runs totaling four RBI to bring his games with homers streak to three. In a combination of these two, it was Blanks (+67.6%) for the Padres, who had the game-tying hit in the 9th but also had a two-run single in the first inning.
Chump of the Game: Unsurprisingly, it was Soriano (-42.4%), though it would be unfair to say all the blame lies with him. At least he got the win. For the Padres, it was surprisingly not Street (-32.3%). In his time, starter Burch Smith (-38.0%) was pretty bad: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER. So bad, in fact, that his performance was more detrimental to his team than the pitcher who took the loss. However, he did drop his ERA from 54.00 to 15.63.