While the Nationals’ offense may be struggling mightily, they don’t need much of it when the starters pitch like Gio Gonzalez did today. He locked the Giants down into the eighth inning, but Madison Bumgarner did the same to the Nationals’ much less potent offense. Bryce Harper pumped some life into the feeble, frail Nationals’ offense with a home run and an extra-inning double that would eventually see him score as the game-winning run. However, as happy as the team must be to end their tough road trip with a win, they need to realize that scoring two runs a game will not win a team many games. Either a change needs to be made, or some players need to do some serious slump-breaking. It looks like Ian Desmond and Harper are out of theirs, and LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman are hot, so perhaps the Nationals will score a little more soon. Don’t hold your breath though.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Ian Desmond’s RBI single (+33.2%)
May 21, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) hits a single during the fourth inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT
Perhaps a sign of hope for the Nationals’ offense is the timely hitting they finally got in the top of the tenth today. Harper doubled and Zimmerman was intentionally walked to get Desmond to face the lefty Jeremy Affeldt. Desmond was 0-4 in the game’s first nine innings, but came through when it mattered. His single put the Nats up by one, and would prove to be the game’s winning run after Rafael Soriano locked down the tenth inning for his 13th save.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Buster Posey‘s game-tying single (-29.2%)
After Gonzalez left the game, Drew Storen entered with one out and a runner on first in the eighth, leading by one. Wasting no time, Storen walked a batter and allowed Posey’s single to tie the game. While Gonzalez was charged with the earned run, Storen is accountable for the WPA hit because he allowed the game-tying hit, even though the baserunner was not his. Fortunately, Storen ensured that he allowed no runs by retiring the next two batters he faced to end the inning.
Champ of the Game: Gio (+41.0%) was stellar, allowing one run on four hits and two walks in 7.1 innings while striking out five. Curiously, Bumgarner had the exact same line, except that he recorded one fewer out. However, WPA held him accountable for his earned run, while Gio was let off the hook, so the Giants’ champ was Posey (+23.5%), who was 1-4 with his clutch single.
Chump of the Game: Storen (-22.7%) didn’t allow a run on the scoresheet, but was held responsible for Gio’s baserunner and the ensuing run. Affeldt (-33.4%) suffered for having allowed the game-winning run.