Today was the first game the Washington Nationals have played since being officially eliminated from playoff contention. That was not the only bad news of the day. Fan favorite Nats personality Terrance announced via Twitter prior to the game that his last game cheering in the stands would be on Monday. He will not be back next year.
With this depressing backdrop, the Nationals had to go out and play a game.
Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper got into a fight in the dugout in the bottom of the eighth after Papelbon yelled at Harper for not running hard enough (in Papelbon’€™s opinion) in the bottom of the eighth. Harper did not come out when the team took the field in the top of the ninth and Papelbon was left in to pitch. In my opinion, Papelbon should have been sent to the showers. Gio Gonzalez pitched for the Nationals. He was terrific until the fifth inning, when he had to work out of a jam, and lost it in the sixth inning, leaving with the game tied.
The Phillies sent Aaron Harang to the mound. The Nationals are very familiar with him, having faced him seventeen times during his time with the Atlanta Braves and now the Phillies.
The Nationals scored first in the bottom of the second inning. Ian Desmond hit a home run off the facing of the upper deck in right field. He took his time rounding the bases, soaking in the moment, as the fans gave him a standing ovation. The celebration for Desmond’€™s home run wash’€™t over before the next batter, Matt den Dekker, hit another home run, this one a monster shot to center field to put the Nats up 2-0.
Desmond and den Dekker had back-to-back hits in the bottom of the fourth inning as well, but they were stranded when Jose Lobaton ground out for the third out.
Gonzalez got into trouble in the fifth inning but worked his way out of it. Jeff Francoeur and Erik Kratz hit back to back singles to start the inning. Cody Asche flew out deep enough for Francoeur to get to third. Gio induced Rupp to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Gio started the sixth inning where he left off the fifth, giving up hits to Harang, Freddy Galvis and Andres Blanco to load the bases. He walked Aaron Altherr and Darin Ruf back to back to score two runs and tie the game. Matt Williams finally removed him from the mound and brought in Rafael Martin to try to put out the fire.
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Martin got Francoeur to foul out and Kratz to strike out. With Asche, a left-hander coming up to bat, Williams went to left handed pitcher Matt Grace. Asche broke his bat on a pitch,which went back to Grace who threw Asche out to end the inning. Now the Nats had lost their lead and had to try to battle back.
The Nats went to Doug Fister in the top of the seventh from the bullpen. The Phillies would pinch hit for Harang, which ended his day. Jeanmar Gomez pitched the bottom of the seventh for the Phillies.
The Nationals took the lead thanks to the hitting of Desmond and den Dekker once again. Desmond reached on a swinging bunt, and den Dekker sent him to third on a single to right field. Lobaton doubled down the left field line to send Desmond home and den Dekker to third. Dan Uggla hit a sacrifice fly that got den Dekker home. The Nats were ahead 4-2.
Casey Janssen was brought out to pitch the top of the eighth. He started the inning giving up a ground rule double to Altherr. After getting Ruf to fly out, Janssen gave up a two run home run to Francoeur that tied the game. Kratz flew out and with Asche coming up, Williams went to Felipe Rivero to get the last out of the inning. Rivero allowed a single to Asche, so Williams went to Papelbon. Cameron Rupp sent the ball to deep left, just short of a home run, which was caught by den Dekker for the third out.
The Phillies sent Dalier Hinojosa to the mound in the bottom of the eighth. Harper flew out to start the inning with a ball hit to shallow left. He didn’€™t run hard to first base, and Papelbon started yelling at Harper he needed to run the ball out when Harper was coming back to the dugout.
When Harper got back to the dugout, he and Papelbon were yelling at each other and then Papelbon went for Harper and put his hands around Harper’s throat. They had to be separated. Harper went down the tunnel fuming and Papelbon ended up at the end of the bench by himself.
Williams took Desmond out of the game in the top of the ninth for a curtain call, and put Trea Turner into the game. It was a bit of a strange move considering Desmond was 3-for-3 at that point and the game was still tied.
Papelbon got Brian Bogusevic to strike out, but then walked Galvis. He gave up a home run to Blanco to put the Phillies up 6-4 and the boos rained down from the stands. Altherr was safe on an error by Turner. Altherr would end up stealing two bases before Papelbon walked Ruf to put runners on the corners. After Papelbon hit pinch hitter Odubel Herrera to load the bases, Williams went out to get his closer, who received loud boos as he walked back to the dugout.
Sammy Solis was brought in to face the left hander Asche. Solis got the ground ball he needed to get the out, but Anthony Rendon committed an error on the ball that got Asche to first and scored Altherr from third. Bogusevic singled to re-load the bases. Galvis singled to score two more runs. Blanco singled in another run. Mercifully, the inning finally came to an end with a fly out by Altherr. The Phillies scored eight runs and put the game out of reach.
Den Dekker continued his sparkling performance at the plate in the bottom of the ninth as he tripled to right to make him 4-for-4 on the day. Lobaton drove him in with a ground out to first to cut the lead to 12-5.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals (79-76) play a make up game against the Cincinnati Reds (63-92) at Nationals Park at 3:05 pm EST. The scheduled starters are Max Scherzer (12-12, 2.98) for the Nationals and Brandon Finnegan (1-1, 4.97 ERA since his trade to the Reds from Kansas City) for the Reds. You can watch the game on MASN. This is the Nationals last home game of the year, so if you want to see the Nationals, and Terrance, one last time, this is your opportunity.