A lead in the ninth inning over the Cardinals. Three outs to go. Sound familiar?
When the Washington Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2019 NLCS, many believed the demons had been exorcised. Yet, it seems St. Louis still owns the Nationals, with the latter overcoming a 5-1 deficient in the ninth inning to win 6-5.
Cory Abbott and Mike Montgomery engaged in a pitchers duel — with the two starters allowing one run apiece. The Cardinals were able to work Abbott’s pitch count early and often, making the righty throw 88 pitches in only 4 2/3 innings. Despite allowing five hits, he continued to prevent the big hit and ended up striking out five.
Montgomery threw another gem, but started to tire at the end. After throwing six shutout innings, Washington finally got to him in the seventh. César Hernández tripled home Nelson Cruz who had walked earlier in the inning to tie the game at one.
In the eighth inning, Washington’s offense finally broke through — scoring four runs to go up 5-1. With a runner on second and two outs, Joey Meneses continued his torrid stretch to his career, signaling home Alex Call. Luke Voit then crushed his 19th homer of the season to put Washington up three. Nelson Cruz was able to reignite the rally, recording a single to center. A passed ball allowed him to reach second base and he later scored on a Luis García single.
Erasmo Ramírez who relieved Abbott in the fifth threw 2 2/3 shutout innings. Carl Edwards who took over for him in the eighth followed his lead. He needed just nine pitches to navigate the Cardinals lineup, setting up Kyle Finnegan.
Unfortunately, the closer didn’t have his A or B stuff and quickly struggled. Four of the first five batters he faced all reached base — single, walk, ground-rule double, ground out, walk. After striking out Nolan Gorman, Finnegan was unable to record the final out — Yadier Molina and Tomy Edman both record hits as St. Louis came all the way back to walk off Washington.
To add to the misery, Tommy Edman’s double was just off of the glove of outfielder Alex Call. Despite the low stakes, this game’s ending was reminiscent of Game Five of the 2012 NLDS. Not a great memory.