Nats Hang on Despite Bullpen

When you are up 7-2 going into the eighth inning odds are good the victory is yours. Not with the Nationals bullpen. The Nationals survived a two run homerun in the eighth and two more runs in the ninth, and with the go ahead run standing on first, the Nationals closer was able to get a pop up to third for the final out in a 7-6 victory. Not the way you want to plan it.

Erick Fedde pitched well despite allowing his first pitch to Jessie Winker to be deposited into the left field bleachers. He was also helped by the Reds third base coach who sent Joey Votto home on a single to center. Joey does not have the fastest legs and he was thrown out by Victor Robles by five feet. Not much you can do when the catcher has the ball and you have not gotten far enough to home to start your slide.

The Nationals came roaring back in the bottom half. Adam Eaton started the rally with a walk. With two outs Matt Adams sent one deep into centerfield that hopped off the top edge of the fence and bounced back onto the field. The umpires reviewed the hit and it was confirmed to be a homerun. Asdrubal Cabrera continued his hot hitting since being acquired by the Nationals with a double to right center. Nick Senzel dove for the ball but it hit off his glove and rolled to the wall. Gerrado Parra lined a single into right center to score Cabrera to give the Nationals and Erick Fedde a 3-1 lead.

Fedde continued his early struggles giving up a one out hit to Tucker Barnhart. Jose Iglesias blasted a ball deep to right center for a double, scoring Barnhart. After that hit Fedde settled down facing the minimum number of hitters into the sixth. In the sixth he put two runners on with one out and got out of the jam with a whiff and a ground out. It would be his last inning of work.

Trea Turner provided Fedde with tremendous support in the fourth with a 3-run homer. Turner also delivered on an RBI single in the seventh to give the Nationals a 7-2 lead. But in the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs he grounded to short, meaning Sean Doolittle had to come on in the ninth for the save rather than Fernando Rodney.

The Reds started their comeback with a 2-run homer by Aristedes Aquino off Tanner Rainey. For Aquino that was his eighth homerun in 12 games, a major league record. Rainey started the inning by walking the first hitter he faced Joey Votto. Walks continue to be a big problem for Rainey.

Doolittle came on in the ninth. Phillip Ervin pinch hit for Barnhart and took Doolittle’s first pitch into the left field bleachers. Jose Igesias lined a single into right field. It appeared to be the Mets all over again with a three run lead looking thin. Doolittle was able to retire the next two hitters but Joey Votto hit one deep to left field. Parra made it an adventure trying to catch the ball, turning the wrong way and the ball hit against the fence, Iglesias scoring and Votto stopping at second. The Nationals chose to walk Eugenio Suarez intentionally to put the winning run on first but have Doolittle face the lefty hitting Josh Vanmeter. Josh swung at the first pitch and popped it up foul along the third base side. Rendon squeezed the ball to get the win and the fans all breathed a sigh of relief. Another win despite another bullpen meltdown.

Game Notes: Anthony DeSclafani surprised me with his fastball that hit 95-96. That was a surprise. he only lasted four innings, giving up six runs, one of his worst outings of the year…For Doolittle he finished his 48th game. That is more than any relief pitcher in baseball. Unfortunately his ERA is creeping closer to 4 as he gives up runs in the ninth inning. He has appeared in five of the last seven Nationals games and his ERA in those games sits at 11.57…Aquino hit his homerun off Tanner Rainey. Last year the two played for each other in AA Pensacola. Eight of Aquino’s 15 hits have left the park. They don’t call him the “Punisher” for nothing…Aquino has also driven in a run in seven consecutive games. That is three away from the Reds record of ten set by Joe Morgan in 1976…The Reds needed this win to keep their scant playoff hopes alive. The loss now drops them six games behind the Nationals for the first wild card spot…Kevin Guasman pitched two innings in relief. His career has taken a big down slide since he was a first round pick of the Orioles. Throwing strikes has always been an issue. His fastball was only 93, which is four miles slower than it was in his prime with the Orioles. He did pitch well in his two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two…The throw home from Victor Robles to retire Joey Votto was measured at 99.5 miles per hour by Statcast, the fourth fastest throw to get an outfield assist…The sprained ankle from Soto has gotten much better. He should be back in the lineup in a couple days.

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