Jayson Werth's two-run home run in the fourth got the Washington Nationals within one run of the Colorado Rockies in the series finale in D.C. last night after Michael McKenry's three-run blast in the second got the visitors out to a 3-0 lead.
Two outs after Werth's seventh home run of the year, Bryce Harper sent a pop fly to left that fell in for a hit. A wild pitch in the next at bat moved Harper to third and Ian Desmond stepped in against Rockies' lefty Tyler Matzek.
Colorado's 23-year-old '09 1st Round pick fed Desmond nothing but breaking stuff, and Desmond fell behind 0-2, before spitting on back-to-back pitches to even the count. On the next offering, Desmond took a 2-2 slider low and away through short for an RBI single that tied things up at 3-3.
It stayed that way for two and a half innings until Desmond came up again in the bottom of the seventh. Matzek struck Harper out in the first at bat of the frame but was replaced on the mound by reliever Matt Belisle, the veteran right-hander, who started Desmond off with a high fastball that got a swinging strike then threw a slider outside that the Nats' shortstop took to right...
Desmond's blast bounced off the top of the GEICO wall in right-center and fell back onto the field of play as Desmond rounded second and headed for third. Rockies' right fielder Charlie Blackmon recovered it and threw it in, but as soon as Desmond stopped at third and the ball was in the umpires immediately convened and decided to have another look to see if the ball bounced off the railing atop the wall, which would mean it was out according to the ground rules in Nationals Park.
"I went out there and they had already decided that they were going to review it anyway," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after the game. He was pretty sure it was a home run.
"From the way the ball came off and Stubbs' reaction," Williams said. "For me naked eye it seems like it hits the rail, so just wanted to make sure we got a second look if need be."
Desmond too thought he'd connected for his 15th HR of the year.
"The way it bounced back hard like that I kind of assumed it was over and the way that Stubbs kind of just didn't go after it made it a little bit easier," he said, "but at that point I was like, 'I'm going to get a triple.' I thought it was gone but it wasn't 100% sure."
As he stood at third waiting on the ruling, he admitted after the game, he wondered if they would get the call right.
"I was just wondering what I was going to do if they messed it up," Desmond joked. "Luckily they didn't."
Four minutes after he hit it, Desmond finished a delayed trip around the bases, which he said was a little awkward.
"Not nearly as awkward as Mike Morse having to rerun the bases," Desmond said, referring to his former teammate's really odd reenacted home run in St. Louis in 2012, "but that was a little bit long. But they got it right. Tip your cap for that."
Desmond's 2 for 3 night in the nation's capital left him 11 for 41 (.268 AVG) in his last ten games. On the year, the 28-year-old infielder has a .236/.288/.425 line with 12 doubles and 15 HRs in 83 games and 347 plate appearances. It hasn't been an easy first-half for the six-year veteran, who does, however, have a .288/.337/.433 line in the second-half over the course of his career.
"It's been a grind," Desmond said, "but I want to be that example. You can fight back. I've done it before and I hope to do it again this year."
"The at bat tonight is an indication of what he can do," Williams said. "He goes up there in that situation, he knows he's not necessarily going to get a ball to pull and he stayed on it and hit it over the fence. Great power to all fields and the ability to do that at any time. Just a good at bat, a good professional at bat."