Through nine innings, these teams were as evenly matched as could be. Both ace starters, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, allowed one two-run homer in seven innings of work and nothing more. The Diamondbacks had one more hit, eight to seven, but the only reason neither team had twelve was a bevy of stellar defensive plays on both sides, especially from Aaron Hill, Cliff Pennington, and Denard Span. But after a scoreless tenth, the Diamondbacks struck with a double, a walk, and a bunt single that drove home the tiebreaking run. In the home half of the inning, Heath Bell held the Nats down to end it and earn his thirteenth save. As unfortunate as it is that the Nats were unable to complete the sweep and stay above .500, tonight’s game was incredibly close. A few tiny breaks either way and the outcome is completely different, so there isn’t much to say except “better luck next time.”
Most Important Nationals Hit: Ian Desmond‘s two-run home run (+24.8%)
Over tonight’s 11 innings, the Nationals managed just eight hits, but Desmond ensured that his lone hit would count. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Adam LaRoche drew a walk from Corbin. Desmond followed him up by taking a 2-2 slider into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, putting the Nats on top 2-0. No National would reach third base for the rest of the game.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Aaron Hill’s two-run home run (-25.8%)
Surprised this isn’t the RBI single that gave Arizona the lead in extras? That hit was set up by a double, a sacrifice, and a walk, all of which added to the Diamondbacks’ WPA before the run even scored. Meanwhile, Hill’s home run came with the Diamondbacks down two and just one runner on first in the sixth inning. Hill was a thorn in the Nationals’ side this entire series, scoring four runs despite reaching base only five times and playing incredible defense.
Champ of the Game: For the first time in this installment’s history, we have a tie: Ian Krol and Rafael Soriano (+12.8%) threw scoreless innings in the ninth and tenth respectively, and at that point in the game, one scoreless inning has the exact same value. Except, of course, when your team has the lead, which is why Heath Bell (+18.5%) takes the cake for the Snakes.
Chump of the Game: Craig Stammen (-31.5%) struggled uncharacteristically, allowing one run on two hits and a walk in the top of the eleventh to take the loss. For Arizona, Pennington (-25.0%) was 0-5 at the plate, but his placement here is somewhat unjust, given that he took away at least two base hits from the Nationals with his defense.