Rendon Walkoff Secures Sloppy Victory Over Marlins

The Nationals played the game last night as if they did not want to win. Sloppy fielding plays and the usual poor pitching by the bullpen would have resulted in a loss against most teams except they were fortunate to be playing the Marlins, who have their own issues finding victories. The Marlins can play as poorly as the next team and Anthony Rendon took advantage of a wild pitch that put two runners in scoring position and blooped a single into left field that scored the tying and winning run to give the Nationals a 7-6 win.

Neither starting pitcher had their best stuff. In the first inning Harold Ramirez deposited a pitch from Anibal Sanchez into the centerfield bleachers, just to the right of the bullpen. Elieser Hernandez gave the run right back and added another in the bottom frame. The first three hitters in the order, Trea Turner, Gerardo Parra and Anthony Rendon all singled for one run. A ground out scored the second run and it was 2-1 Nationals.

In the second inning Victor Robles started it off with a double. Anibal bunted him to third and on a slow grounder to Starlin Castro at third he chose to go to first rather than taking the risky throw home. Hernandez settled down after that, retiring the Nationals in order in the next three innings.

The Nationals exhibited some poor fielding in the third inning. A walk by Sanchez to Jon Berti started the inning off. Harold Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to Turner that should have been a double play. Turner’s throw to Asdrubal Cabrera was high, Asdrubal tried to catch it barehanded to make the throw to first but dropped the ball. The error was given to Turner. With one out Neil Walker hit a hard grounder to Matt Adams at first that could have been two. The ball popped out of his glove. He recovered quickly and flipped the ball to Sanchez covering first but Sanchez bobbled the throw and the runner was safe to load the bases. The Nationals got out of the inning when Sanchez struck out Jorge Alfaro on three pitches and Isan Diaz popped to short.

Anibal gave up a run in the fourth, but it was a sloppy fielding play from former gold glover Parra that created a run. He poorly tracked what should have been a routine fly ball to right, turning the wrong direction and letting the ball bounce to the left of him and into the right field bullpen for a ground rule double. What should have been an out was a double for Brinson. Sanchez had trouble throwing strikes and walked his fourth hitter of the game. Hernandez bunted the runners over and a ground out to second scored a run for the Marlins that shouldn’t have scored.

The Nationals took advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Marlins in the sixth. In some generous scorekeeping by the home team Rendon hit a single that bounced in front of the right fielder and then glanced off his leg. If he could have fielded the one hopper cleanly Rendon would have been held to a single. Because it bounced off his leg and trickled behind him Rendon was able to advance to second on what was ruled a generous double. A balk advanced Rendon to third where he scored on a legitimate double by Juan Soto.

Hunter Strickland came back from his paternity leave and the Marlins treated him rudely in the seventh. Jon Berti started the inning off with a bloop single to right. Harold Ramirez and Starlin Castro followed with hard singles to center to score one. Strickland walked Neil Walker to load the bases and after striking out Jorge Alfaro for the first out was replaced by Roenis Elias to face the lefthander. Elias walked Isan Diaz, a player who doesn’t like to walk, to force in a run and tie the game. Lewis Brinson grounded into a double play to Rendon to keep the game tied.

The Nationals scored one run off Kyle Keller without putting the ball in play. Keller walked two and struck out two and was replaced by the lefty Jarlin Garcia to face Juan Soto. Soto lined one into the right field bullpen wall for a double scoring Max Scherzer, who had pinch run for Adam Eaton. With the uncertainty of the Nationals bullpen it would have been nice to score more, but they didn’t.

In the ninth Dan Hudson came on to close the game. Harold Ramirez hit a slow roller to Rendon and beat the throw the throw to first by an eye lash. The play was reviewed and the call could have gone either way. Starlin Castro lifted one into right center and the ball hit off the top of the fence just in front of the right field bleachers for a delayed call homerun. Castro had stopped at third when the third base umpire circled his fingers to complete the four bagger. Hudson was able to retire the next three hitters to keep the deficit at one.

Ryne Stanek, who came from the Rays was asked to close out the game. For the Marlins coming into this game he had been given four save opportunities, succeeded in one and blown three. Howie Kendrick led off the ninth with a pinch hit single and Trea Turner took a walk. Para tried to bunt the runners over and popped it up to the pitcher. Stanek though could not take the generosity and advanced the runners over, throwing a pitch high over the catcher’s head that was for some reason ruled a passed ball. Stanek succeeded in doing what Parra could not. With the count 2-1 Rendon did not hit the ball hard, but hard enough, blooping it over the shortstop for a single and allowing Turner to race home with the winning run. That was the fourth blown save for Stanek, who was used a lot as an opener for the Rays.

Game Notes: The Marlins had two players from Colombia in their starting lineup, Jorge Alfaro and Harold Ramirez. That has to be a first for a major league team to have two Colombians as regulars in the starting lineup…Myworld still likes the construction of the Nationals new bullpen once Sean Doolittle gets healthy. Daniel Hudson and Hunter Strickland are two setup relievers who throw 95 plus along with Wander Suerro. They can get the ball to Doolittle. Myworld is also comfortable using either Hudson or Strickland as closers if Doolittle continues to struggle. Roenis Elias is a better lefthanded option than Matt Grace…After the leadoff hitter got on in the second inning Elieser Hernandez retired the next 12 hitters before running into trouble in the sixth…Anibal Sanchez takes a long time getting to home plate from his stretch position. The Marlins runners were getting some big jumps off him…The three hits by Rendon extended his hitting streak to 15 games and he is leading the National League in hitting with his .333 average.

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