With today’s ten-inning win, the Nationals averted an all-out disaster of a series heading into the All-Star break. As late as the seventh inning, the Nats trailed 2-1 and were dangerously close to getting swept by the Marlins and heading into the All-Star break below .500. But the offense rebounded to get six hits in the seventh through tenth innings and score four runs as opposed to just one before. Perhaps that could be a synecdoche for the season: an early dormancy leading to a late breakout, ultimately ending in success. We can only hope. At least today, the shuffled-up lineup produced enough just in time to get the win. The Nationals will have to do some serious soul-searching over the break, but can still salvage this season. They’re just six games out, like they were not long ago. Atlanta will not run away with the division title, and the Nationals can hang around until the end. Dan Haren looks good, finally, and Ross Detwiler should return soon. I completely believe that the Nationals can win this division, and make it a much closer race sooner rather than later. The thing is, I have absolutely no clue whether they will or not.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Denard Span‘s double (40.6%)
The biggest change in today’s lineup shakeup was the demotion of Span, who fell from first to seventh. He responded to his demotion in a big way. With two outs in the top of the tenth and a runner on first, it looked like the Nats were going to go quietly and face the middle of the Marlins’ order in the bottom of the tenth. However, Span doubled to score Adam LaRoche from first to put the Nats up 3-2. Wilson Ramos and Chad Tracy followed him up with base hits, eventually leaving the Nats and Rafael Soriano with a 5-2 lead.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Derek Dietrich‘s two-run home run (-22.8%)
In the best start of his extremely young career, Taylor Jordan completed six full innings for the first time and allowed just one run-scoring hit. However, that hit was a two-run home run by Dietrich in the fourth inning that put the Marlins on top, 2-1. Jordan has acquitted himself quite well through his first four major league starts, with a 3.32 ERA despite a 1.38 WHIP. He has averaged just 5.1 IP/start, but his low innings totals are not a result of struggling. He has yet to throw 90 pitches in a game, and had thrown just 73 after six innings today.
Champ of the Game: Did I mention that Span (+48.4%) stepped up to his demotion? He was 3-5 with two doubles, a run scored, and two RBIs. He was acquired to be a leadoff man, but his defense alone makes him quite valuable and the Nationals would be ecstatic to have production like they saw today from the seven spot. For the Marlins, reliever Mike Dunn (+15.8%) recorded four outs and relinquished just one hit.
Chump of the Game: Jayson Werth (-15.5%) was 2-5, but made some untimely outs, including flying out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning on a ball that would have left many less cavernous ballparks. Steve Cishek (-35.1%) also recorded four outs, but he gave up three earned runs on three hits in the meantime.