Moments That Mattered: Chaos Theory



Were you excited about the Nats’ recent three-game winning streak? Did you look forward to a brighter future on offense with the 14-run outburst against the Mets?

Well then, I’m sorry your optimism crashed and burned tonight.

Of course, tonight’s game was much closer than the score indicates. The difference came on a two-out grand slam in the sixth inning. Wilson Ramos set up low and away on the pitch, but Stephen Strasburg left it inside and Alex Avila knew what to do with it. This is a much different game story if Strasburg makes that pitch, but even if he gets Avila out and escapes the jam, the Nationals would have needed to score more than one run to win. The offense’s absence is a familiar feeling for the Nats, who have scored one run or fewer in 29 of their 107 games, or 27.1% (h/t Adam Kilgore for the stat). Strasburg has also gotten more than his fair share of support-less games, and is last in baseball in run support by over half a run at 2.71 runs per start. He has the same number of wins as Dan Haren, despite having an ERA over two runs lower. One game does not a trend make, and the Nats could get back to mashing tomorrow and keep up the hot streak, but tonight is an excellent example of the all-too-often outages that have hampered the Nats. The Nats have been so inconsistent that predicting any given game is all but a crapshoot.

Jul 30, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (13) runs the bases after he hits a grand slam home run off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) in the sixth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Most Important Nationals Hit: Bryce Harper‘s triple (+8.9%)

The game got off to a great offensive start for the Nats, and went downhill quickly from there. Harper, hitting leadoff again, missed a home run on the fourth pitch of the game by a few feet. Instead, he settled for a triple off the wall in right. The Nats got another hit in the inning to score the run, but Anibal Sanchez shut them down as he always has. As a Marlin and Tiger, he is 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA against the Nats in 21 starts.

Most Important Nationals Pitch: Alex Avila‘s grand slam (-34.1%)

Strasburg had been cruising through five innings against the Tigers, giving up one run on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts. But in the sixth, his control seemed to abandon him. A single, a double, and a walk loaded up the bases with one out. He struck out Andy Dirks for the second out, but Raburn hammered him to turn a tie game into a four-run game. Before today, Strasburg had not allowed a home run with more than one runner on base in his career.

Champ of the Game: Harper (+2.4%) was the impetus for the Nats’ lone run with his first inning triple and run scored. After that, however, he was 0-3 and finished 1-4. Avila (+25.6%) was also 1-4, but his one hit and four accompanying RBI were what turned the tide of the game.

Chump of the Game: Strasburg (-20.3%) had a decent start by every stat but earned runs. He gave up six hits, struck out seven, and walked three over seven innings, but gave up a disproportionate five earned runs thanks to the grand slam. Tigers CF Austin Jackson (-6.7%) was 0-4 with a strikeout.