The Nats looked like they might return to their losing ways today, after a four-run second inning by the Phillies against Taylor Jordan put the Nats in a deep early hole. But, for the first time this year, the Nats were able to claw their way out of a four-run hole and even win rather comfortably. Through two games of this series, the Phillies have done a great job of bringing back the spirit of the 2012 Nats in DC. As F.P. Santangelomentioned during tonight’s broadcast, a rival evaluator still considers the Nats one of the most talented teams in the NL. The Nats have not delivered on that talent this year; sadly, they have been far from what their potential indicated. But there is still time to end strong, and the Nats got a good start on that tonight.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Jayson Werth‘s two-run home run (+34.2%)
The biggest aspect, numerically and otherwise, of tonight’s comeback was the five-run seventh inning in which the Nats batted around. Trailing 4-3, the Nats manufactured their first run of the frame with a walk, a sac bunt, a stolen base, another walk, and a fielder’s choice bunt. Then the onslaught began, as five straight Nats reached base. Werth was the first of those five, with his home run (and thousandth career hit) driving in Bryce Harper to put the Nats up 6-4. Anthony Rendon drove in the inning’s other two runs with a bases-loaded single. Elias Sports Bureau hasn’t gotten back to us, but we believe this is the first time a team has ever scored five runs in an inning with two non-hit bunts.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Darin Ruf‘s two-run home run (-17.4%)
Jordan, nearing his Tommy John innings limit, saw his second inning turn nightmarish quickly. After a smooth first, Jordan gave up a single to the first batter in the second. The second batter was Ruf, who took him deep and put the Phillies on top early. It only got worse from there, as Jordan would give up three more hits and two more hits before recording the second out of the inning. After finally getting out of the frame, he settled down somewhat, allowing only two more hits in the next three innings.
Champ of the Game: Don’t look now, but Werth (+41.7%) might be making a case for NL MVP. He was 3-5 with three runs scored and three RBI tonight, and now owns a .322/.397/.527 line. He should get enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title within the next two weeks or so, and his .924 OPS would rank him fifth in the NL. Ruf (+13.1%) had his homer and two RBI, but was hitless in his other three at-bats.
Chump of the Game: Jordan (-23.4%) did not have a great looking line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. However, he retired five of the last six Phillies he faced, with one of those outs being a GIDP. He kept the Nats in the game and the offense rewarded him for it. Phillies reliever Zach Miner (-43.0%) was the architect of the Phillies’ destruction in the seventh, entering the game after Harper’s RBI bunt and putting five straight Nats on. He was charged three runs and four hits in 0.1 IP.