This game was perfect. This was exactly what the Washington Nationals needed. This was the sort of performance that can be a catalyst and help get the Nationals season, which has so far been an unmitigated disaster, back on track.
We all know the story of the Nationals offense lately. It’s been lethargic, sluggish, and downright bad, relying mostly on solo homers for scoring and unable to string hits together for big innings.
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At first, it looked like that would be the case again. By the end of the second inning, the Nats trailed 9-1. At the end of four, it was 10-2. By this point, it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Nationals would tuck their tails between their legs and hope just to fight another day.
Instead, they fought back. They scored four runs in the fifth and tacked another one on in the sixth before adding another three in the seventh. The Braves tacked on a pair of runs of their own, but the Nats much maligned bullpen kept them from widening the gap. Heading into the top of the ninth, the Nats were within striking distance down 12-10.
Then came the fireworks, and from the least likely of places. Following a single by Jose Lobaton and a walk by Danny Espinosa, Dan Uggla sent a no-doubter over the left field fence. The Nationals led 13-12, which would be the final margin of victory.
I understand that it may be overreactionary to get caught up in the emotion of one win, but after watching this team sleepwalk through the last six losses, it’s refreshing to see the sort of fight that they put up in this win, particularly against a divisional rival that’s given them so much trouble the past few seasons.
Hopefully, this is the spark that ignites a hot streak.
A.J. Cole Struggles
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all great news for the Nationals Tuesday night. With Max Scherzer‘s injury, the Nationals called up A.J. Cole for the spot start, hoping to get an early look out of one of their top young pitching prospects.
His first start did not turn out well.
By the time the Nationals yanked him after just two innings, Cole had already given up nine runs, four of them earned, for an ERA of 18.00. He managed to record his first big league strikeout, but he also managed to throw a pitch to the backstop. Cole was either too amped up or too nervous. He missed his spots all over the plate, never seeming to lock onto the targets that Jose Lobaton set for him.
It’s easy to feel sorry for Cole. He obviously possesses a lot of talent, considering that Cole is the third best prospect in the organization and 51st in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline. He’s also only 23 years old and not everyone can start as early as Bryce Harper. But last night, he appeared unable to get a hold of his emotions, an ability he’ll have to master before the next time the Nationals need to call upon his services.
Health willing, that time won’t be until next year.