I’ve learned my lesson. I know better than to say that today’s doubleheader sweep was a “turning point” or gives them “momentum.” Sure, they came back from a three-run deficit for the first time, and yeah, they got production up and down the lineup as every single starter in both games reached base at least once. I will go no further than to say today’s game was a step in the right direction.
Nate Karns struggled in three innings, allowing four runs, but the Nationals (31-31) scored a single run in four of the next five innings to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 win and a series win over the Minnesota Twins, moving them back to .500.
Karns entered the game with a 6.00 ERA, but labored early. He stranded the bases loaded in the top of the first, and was bolstered by a Jayson Werth RBI single in the home half of the inning that gave the Nats an early 1-0 lead. Karns struggled again in the second, walking three batters and allowing an RBI double that gave the Twins a 2-1 lead. Having allowed seven baserunners through two innings, he was fortunate to have allowed just two runs and was at an alarmingly high 55 pitches.
Unfortunately, it all went even further downhill from there. Pedro Florimon homered, the fifth homer Karns has allowed in 12 major league innings pitched, to put the Nats in a seemingly insurmountable three-run hole. He was pulled after just three innings with an ugly final line: 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. His ERA is now 7.50.
In the bottom of the third, the Nats got right down to business chipping away at the Minnesota lead. Werth scored Roger Bernadina on another RBI single, and the lead was down to two. The .186-hitting Bernadina was a suprising offensive force, going 2-3 with two walks and two runs scored. After a fruitless fourth, the Nats struck again in the fifth on an Adam LaRoche sacrifice fly that scored former Twin Denard Span. After that inning, Twins starter Sam Deduno was pulled, having allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks in five innings. Meanwhile, Craig Stammen dominated out of the bullpen once again, pitching two perfect innings. Span’s RBI triple off reliever Anthony Swarzak in the sixth knotted the score at four apiece, and set the stage for the Nats to take the lead.
In the seventh, LaRoche doubled with one out off Swarzak and brought up Ian Desmond, who promptly did the same and scored LaRoche to put the Nats up 5-4. The story of the game was the bullpen performance by both teams. The Twins allowed two runs on four hits in three innings, while the Nats allowed no runs on three hits in six innings. With a slim lead, Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth by putting runners on the corners with two outs, but escaped and earned his sixteenth save of the season.
Next Game: Tuesday in Colorado, 8:40 PM. Haren (4-7, 5.45) v. Chacín (3-3, 4.59)