In news that should shock no one, a lineup that had three Triple A quality hitters and a bunch of other ones who aren’t doing so great mustered just two hits and one run while striking out thirteen times. Hot-hitting rookie Anthony Rendon was benched tonight in favor of cold-hitting bench guy Steve Lombardozzi, who actually got one of the Nats’ two hits. More egregious is the placement of .189-hitting Roger Bernadina in the two-hole, where noted baseball analyst Keith Law argues a team’s best hitter should hit. .131-hitting Chad Tracy also played third base and hit seventh. It would be quite easy to argue that none of these players belongs at the major league level, but here they are, as festering black holes in the Nationals’ lineup. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh, because they together had a better batting average than the regulars tonight, but the problem goes deeper than tonight, and tonight is a perfect example of what an overmatched lineup looks like. However, through some miracle, the pitching staff kept the Nats in a game they had no business competing in.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Kurt Suzuki scores on a wild pitch (+9.0%)
Ok, so it’s not a hit. So sue me. The Nats only had two, one of which was earlier in this inning. After two walks and a single, Ryan Zimmerman came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the third after singling in the first, but his offensive services were not particularly necessary. Justin Masterson uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Suzuki to score from third. After that moment, however, the Nats would not get another hit.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Michael Bourn‘s single (-19.0%)
Curiously, the walk-off for the Indians was not as important as the hit that set it up. With Drew Stubbs on first, Bourn singled to move him to third with one out. The game ended when Jason Kipnis hit a fielder’s choice to Adam LaRoche, who threw home but was not in time to get Stubbs as he slid across the plate.
Champ of the Game: Gio Gonzalez (+30.3%) had a stellar outing despite a few dicey moments. He struck out eight in seven one-run innings in which he allowed just three hits but walked four. Masterson (+30.3%) was similarly great, with a nearly identical line to Gio’s except that he struck out two more batters and allowed one fewer hit.
Chump of the Game: Fernando Abad (-36.6%) picked a bad time to allow his first run of the season, taking the loss in the bottom of the ninth. Cleveland’s Mark Reynolds (-28.9%) struggled, especially with men on base, going 0-4 with 3 Ks.