BALTIMORE, MD: Max Scherzer took a no-hit bid and 1-0 lead into the sixth before Seth Smith hit a solo shot to right to tie things up, but even after that blown lead, Adam Lind’s pinch hit 3-run home run in the eighth put the Nationals back on top after seven and a half.
Scherzer gave up another solo home run by his nemesis Adam Jones in the eighth before he finished off the inning and handed a 4-2 lead to the Nationals’ bullpen.
As it has a number of times this season, Washington’s bullpen gave another one away.
Enny Romero gave up a two-out RBI double by Jonathan Schoop (after a leadoff walk, a force at second on dropped fly in right-center, and a balk that moved a runner into scoring position), and a game-tying RBI single by J.J. Hardy as the Orioles rallied to tie things up at 4-4 and send it to extras where a walk-off hit by Mark Trumbo in the 12th gave Baltimore a 5-4 win.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker talked after the loss about how blown leads like this, and the loss to the Phillies last weekend, among others, can have an emotional toll on a team.
“It takes a big emotional toll,” Baker said. “One of the biggest downers in baseball is when you blow a game late, and especially when you have a lead like that a couple times this week.
“It’s certainly tested my team’s emotional strength and stability, and we’ll just see how we come out of this.”
Baker has seen it all twenty-one-plus seasons as a manager, and as he said tonight, he’s had bullpens struggle like the Nationals’ bullpen is early this season.
“It makes it tough because guys are getting hits off us are not really the big guys, it’s the bottom of the order guys, they’re finding the holes,” Baker explained.
“Like I said, that was a tough one to lose.
“After a few days there’s not much you can say. It seems like the tighter the game gets and toward the end of the game, we’re not performing fundamentally like I would like.
“We’re not getting bunts down, we’re not making defensive plays. It’s the little things.
“Most people just see how many hits you get, how many home runs you hit and how many guys you strike out, but it’s the little things, especially in one-run games that cost you games.”
How will the Nationals respond? Will there be changes in the bullpen? From within? From without? Will relievers returning from the DL (Shawn Kelley, Koda Glover) help settle things down?
Will the Nationals bounce back after dropping the finale with the Phillies and two straight to the Orioles at Camden Yards?