Yesterday afternoon the Washington Nationals faced elimination from the playoffs in the first round of the playoffs after having the best record in the National League. In a scoreless game thru the sixth inning, the seventh was going to have to be the inning the Nationals got on the board. The heart of the order was up and Madison Bumgarner was beginning to wear down.
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Ian Desmond singled, Bryce Harper followed with a base on balls and Wilson Ramos was coming to the plate. The Nationals needed to scratch a run across any way they could, so the buffalo laid down a bunt for the first time in three years, and man was it a beauty. The two-strike pitch was laid down perfectly on the first base side where Bumgarner could easily field and throw to first for the out. Well, he decided to get greedy and it cost him and the Giants two runs as the ball rolled around in the Giants bullpen while Desmond and Harper came around to score. Ramos advanced to second, and would come around to score on the next batter as Asdrubal Cabrera singled to left and the Nationals led 3-0.
We will never know how the inning would’ve turned out if Bumgarner takes the out at first that the Nats were giving him. All we know now is that the Nationals are in a great spot to win the series after being down two games to none.
Game four will be played at 9:00 p.m. ET today, with Gio Gonzalez facing off with Ryan Vogelsong in another must-win game for the Nats. Gonzalez will be the first lefty the Giants face this postseason, and during the regular season they had a record of 30-30 against southpaws. The Giants lineup is filled with lefties, five of the eight position players hit left-handed.
Being in this predicament could cause the Giants to change up their lineup and move pieces around, but Bruce Bochy hasn’t shown any sign of doing that while talking to the media. Gio hasn’t pitched since his last start of the regular season on September 25, but Matt Williams is confident in the left-hander.
"“Over the last six weeks, he’s given us really good pitching performances,” said Nationals manager Matt Williams. “His numbers the last month were fantastic. He’s been going deep into games and using all his pitches for strikes when he wants to.”"
If Gio can pitch like he did to end the regular season, 4-1, 2.48 ERA in September the Nationals will have a good chance to win. The offense found a few runs yesterday even with being a little aggressive but Denard Span came off the mat and collected two hits. He is the key to the offense, and if he and Rendon can continue to get on base at the top of the order, the Nationals are in good shape.
Game 4 is a must-win game, but if it is won by the Nats, the series swings back to Washington D.C. where the series comes back into the Nats favor. Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann will be available in Game 5 if there happens to be one. If you think about it, the series could already be in the Nats favor. Beating Bumgarner was huge, and with Ryan Vogelsong on the mound, the Nats offense has a chance to break out. We will have to wait and see but the pendulum seems to be swinging in the Nats favor late in this series.