Last night’s loss could be season-altering. Washington needs to find a way to not allow history to repeat itself.
Trea Turner had just finished rounding the bases after hitting his second homer of the night and the home crowd at Petco Park was silent. Turner had just put the Nats up 8-0 in the top of the fourth inning. With the Padres ace, Yu Darvish on the mound, many were expecting a low-scoring affair.
Instead, the Washington National’s offense struck immediately and often through the first four innings. With Max Scherzer on the mound and a commanding 8-0 lead, a win seemed almost guaranteed. Instead, nothing is assured in sports and last night served as a painful reminder for the Nationals and their fans.
After cruising through three innings, Scherzer’s collapse came out of nowhere. First, he allowed a solo shot to Fernando Tatis Jr to start the inning. The ace was able to rebound by striking out Jake Cronenworth before completely losing his command. On an 0-2 count, he hit Manny Machado, allowed a single to Trent Grisham, and then hit Eric Hosmer when he was once again up in the count. Wil Myers worked a nine-pitch walk to score a run, before the truly unthinkable occurred.
The Padres decided to let their relief pitcher hit with the bases loaded instead of opting to use a pinch-hitter. Manager Jayce Tingler was rewarded, when Daniel Camarena golfed a ball out of the dirt for a grand slam. With the home crowd fully back into the game, the Nationals were left gasping for air after a tremendous gut punch. Scherzer allowed another run before being pulled and in the blink of an eye, the lead was cut to one.
In the sixth inning, the Padres would tie it and would later win it thanks to a walk-off hit by Trent Grisham of all people. Yes, the same Grisham whose error cost the Brewers in the 2019 Wild Card Game. The ninth inning of last night will always be remembered for Manager Dave Martinez opting to use Sam Clay over Brad Hand.
Last night’s game was reminiscent of 2018 when the Nationals Ryan Madson gave up a walk-off Grand Slam to the Chicago Cubs David Bote to lose 4-3. That Bote slam essentially ended the National’s momentum and crushed any hopes they had at a late-season run. However, this time the Nationals have the entire second half of the season to look forward to. But the question remains if they can overcome the heartbreak.
The 2018 Nats were full of talent but were never able to fully get going, instead they were treading water for the majority of the season. The 2021 Nats have already proven they can go on a run. After starting 24-33, they won 16 of their next 21, thanks in part to the offense finally coming alive. But with the main catalyst for their run Kyle Schwarber on the IL for the foreseeable future, it will be up to Trea Turner and Juan Soto to lead the way.
Washingon’s path doesn’t get any easier, with the San Francisco Giants up next. But a series win against NL West division leaders would go a long way of changing their narrative of falling apart after facing heartbreak.