In 45 career plate appearances with the bases loaded, Ian Desmond was 16 for 39 (.410/.356/.462) with two doubles and 34 RBIs before tonight. The 27-year-old Washington Nationals' shortstop was 9 for 20 with 22 RBIs with one out and the bases loaded in his five-year MLB career. Desmond stepped to the plate with the bases loaded for the 46th time in the majors tonight in Citizens Bank Park with one out in the top of the eleventh inning of a 2-2 game and hit the first grand slam of his career over the wall between the Xfinity and W.B. Mason signs in left-center some 390+ ft from home on a 2-2 slider insider from Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander Michael Stutes. Desmond fell behind 0-2 early against Stutes, got into the 2-2 count and came out on top after the Phillies' reliever gave up a double by Ryan Zimmerman and back-to-back walks to Adam LaRoche (IBB) and Jayson Werth (BB) in the top of the second extra inning. 6-2 Nationals on Desmond's slam...
Oh yeah. #EatFace— Ian Desmond (@IanDesmond20) June 20, 2013
"I did the same thing I always do: see the white ball, put the barrel on it," @IanDesmond20 on his game-winning grand slam— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 20, 2013
Ian Desmond celebrated his big night at the plate in CBP on Twitter after the game. His manager met with the press and told reporters he was once again impressed by his hard-hitting, plus range, plus arm shortstop, who also managed to complete his 50th error free game tonight in Philadelphia. +D
"He's quite a character," Davey Johnson said after his Nationals battled back to salvage the third game of their three-game series with their NL East rivals. "He's got a lot of big hits for us in the past. The only thing that I worry about him sometimes, he tries too hard. And it seemed like he was a little too geared up, and then when he got two strikes, he just shortened up and he crushed that ball. [Stutes] threw him a good breaking ball and he just flat-out crushed it. And he didn't try to swing hard. But it was a heck of a ballgame."
Asked about the fact that Desmond fell behind 0-2 to Stutes before he worked back in the count and hit the grand slam, Davey Johnson said it's just how Desmond does things, all out all the time. "He just wants to do something so bad and he's so dang strong, he can't help himself. Guys come over and [say], 'Does this guy swing this hard all the time?' Yeah. He doesn't know any other way. But he's an awfully good player and he's only going to get better."
Tonight's game started with the Nationals down 2-0. The Nationals were retired in order by Kyle Kendrick in the top of the first and two batters into the Phillies' half of the opening inning it was 2-0 Philadelphia after Ben Revere singled and scored on Michael Young's third home run of the year. Gonzalez bounced back from his 24-pitch first, however, and retired 20 of the next 22 batters he faced, giving up only leadoff walks in the fourth and sixth and keeping those runners from advancing past first. When Gonzalez was done for the night he'd tied a career high with 11 Ks and thrown 108 pitches total in 7.0 IP in which he allowed just two hits, two walks and the two runs.
"Gio pitched great," Davey Johnson said after the left-hander's 15th start of the year. "He had a little rough first inning, but he pitched great. And I was a little worried, he swung the bat and I thought he pulled his back out in about the fifth inning, but great pitched ballgame, good defense, clutch hitting there at the end."
If it wasn't for Jayson Werth's big night, Ian Desmond may not have been handed the opportunity he had in the eleventh. The Nationals' 34-year-old right fielder went 2 for 4 with RBI singles in the seventh and ninth that first cut the Phillies' 2-0 lead in half and then tied it up. The win kept the Nationals in second place. It helped them avoid getting swept on the road in Nats Park North. And it sent the defending NL East champions back to the nation's capital for a seven-game homestand in Nationals Park with a little energy after a long trip through Colorado, Cleveland and Philadelphia, PA.
"We needed it," Washington's 70-year-old skipper told reporters. "It was big time. And everybody felt it. Makes the bus ride home a lot easier. But, you know, good pitching and timely hitting... and Jayson Werth had a heck of a ballgame. Tough pitcher out there [Kyle Kendrick] who was making his pitches, and [Werth] had a couple big hits for us and the pitching was good, so it will make the trip home real nice."
"It was a big win," Johnson said, "We really needed it and the Phillies, we needed to show them that we're still hanging around. So, it will be good to get home, it's been a long road trip."