Ryan Zimmerman leads the team with nine walkoff homeruns. He has not hit one in a couple years and in the bottom of the tenth he got an opportunity. He lined one to centerfield, which was chased down by John Jay for the second out. Yunel Escobar followed. He drove the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva, an ex-teammate with the Blue Jays into the left field bullpen, a line drive that cleared by plenty to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. You could tell by the dejected look of the Cardinal bullpen as they watched the ball sail at them they knew it was out of here once bat met ball.
It was another game in which the Nationals inability to manufacture runs only wasted a strong pitching effort by Gio Gonzalez. In the second inning Ryan Zimmerman lined a double into the right centerfield gap past a diving John Jay (about the only ball he was not able to chase down last night). Yunel Escobar did a good job of advancing him to third by grounding out to the right side. Wilson Ramos failed to make contact and struck out. The Cardinals walked Danny Espinosa intentionally to face Gio Gonzalez, who popped to catcher.
In the sixth they had runners on first and third with one out. Yunel Escobar, who is one of the few players myworld is confident can manufacturer a run hit the ball hard to the right side, but it was turned into a 4-6-3 double play. Ian Desmond, who has trouble making contact struck out with a runner on third in the seventh and ninth innings. In the ninth there was only one out and all he had to do was drive the ball into the outfield to score Danny Espinosa from third. He swung and missed at three pitches. John Jay then broke the hearts of Nat fans by making a diving catch off a Jayson Werth line drive to send the game into extra innings.
The Nationals did score their lone run in regulation time in the third inning. Ian Desmond ripped one over the head of Jason Heyward. It appeared Jason gave up on the ball too soon to play it off the scoreboard wall and if he had kept on running he may have caught it. A walk to Jayson Werth brought up Bryce Harper. He bounced a high grounder the opposite way into left field to score Ian Desmond. Ryan Zimmerman drove one deep to the warning track in centerfield that John Jay tracked down. Harper was already at second and returned to first. The Cardinals appealed Harper passed second and did not re-touch the bag on his return. The umpire agreed and called Harper out. Myworld did not think Harper passed second so did not have to touch it again upon his return but we’d like to see the replay. You have to think the umpire saw it because he called it.
The Cardinals also had their opportunities to score, massing together 13 hits but failing to cross the plate until the ninth inning. They did not reach third until the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs on a Mark Reynolds walk. John Jay grounded to Ryan Zimmerman to end the threat. The Cardinals put runners on first and second with no out in the sixth, but a nice play by Wilson Ramos on a bunt by Lance Lynn got the runner at third and Matt Carpenter grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Drew Storen came on to pitch the ninth and the Cardinals continue to haunt his world. Fans will not let Drew forget the 2012 playoffs in which the Cardinals came back in the fifth game off Storen to advance to the playoffs, completing a 6-1 comeback victory. Storen also coughed up a 1-0 lead against the Giants in the playoffs last year that turned the series around. Matt Carpenter started the nightmare by flaring a single to left field. Storen struck out Jason Heyward, but the third strike bounced in the dirt and traveled to the backstop. Wilson Ramos did a good job of getting to the ball fast enough to throw out Heyward at first, but Carpenter advanced to second. Another wild pitch advanced Carpenter to second. Matt Holiday, who was 3 for 3 for the day with one walk lined a single into left field to tie the game. A strike out throw out double play ended the inning.
Game Notes: Ian Desmond had a stellar fielding day. He made a spectacular play in the hole to throw out John Jay, showing Nats fans why he is a good shortstop. He fielded all four balls hit at him, turned two double plays, one on a low throw from Gio Gonzalez that he had to submarine to first base…Matt Adams did not have a good fielding day. He was a late replacement coming in on a double switch. In the three innings he played a dropped a popup and booted a grounder, but none led to a run…The fans booed the results of the President’s race with the racing Presidents using joy sticks to control their automated selves on the video board. George won, but the fans booed the results wanting to see the real Presidents race, not the automated figures on the scoreboard…Most of the fans had departed the game after the ninth inning to take the Metro home, missing the walkoff homerun by Escobar. In Japan they start their games at 6 because most fans have to take the trains to get home and the trains shut down at midnight. They also end them after 12 innings, regardless of result, which makes for the ties in Japanese ball. If the Nationals do not want to pay Metro to stay open later, perhaps they can start the games sooner. Many of the fans take the Metro back home to Virginia…Ryan Zimmerman should have had four hits, but was robbed twice by Jon Jay. He finished the day with two hits…Yunel Escobar dove headfirst into home plate after hitting his walkoff. A player appeared to rain some orange power drink onto the home plate area as soon as he went into his dive. The walk-off was the third of his career, six behind Ryan Zimmerman…Anthony Rendon could be ready for a rehab game by Friday. If all goes well he would be available to the Nats sometime next week.