After last night’s demoralizing blown save and extra innings loss in Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and seven somewhat lackluster innings tonight against the Orioles in the nation’s capital, it looked like the Washington Nationals were on their way to a new, season-high, fourth-straight loss.
But then Michael A. Taylor hit a two-out, two-run home run in the eighth to make it a two-run game, 6-4 O’s... and Jayson Werth led off the ninth with an epic, 11-pitch at bat and solo shot to right-center... and suddenly it seemed like something might just happen.
Bryce Harper battled Orioles’ closer Brad Brach in the at bat after Werth’s blast, and won, sending an opposite field double to left field, and the tying run was standing on second base.
Daniel Murphy got the intentionals, and Anthony Rendon singled to center, but Nats’ third base coach Bob Henley, nicknamed “Bob Sendley” for his tendency to wave’em around, held Harper up. What?!?!?
[ed. note - “Here’s what Dusty Baker said in his post game interview about Henley’s hold...”]:
“He told me that was the toughest hold that he had and he might have been out by twenty feet because that throw was right on the money. Adam Jones is an outstanding center field with an outstanding arm and he came in, charged well, cut the distance down and then he took a bullet to home plate, so that was a huge hold.”
Matt Wieters, the lifetime Oriole, until this season, when he signed a 1-year/$10.5M free agent deal with the Nationals, stepped in next and hit a walk-off single by first base to win it for Washington, capping off what would be an improbably comeback if the Nats hadn’t made a habit of it over the last few seasons.
Bases loaded?— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 11, 2017
Bottom of the 9th?
Take it away Matt Wieters... pic.twitter.com/ZfVdTWZJ2K
“I tell you, Jayson Werth had a super at bat,” Dusty Baker told reporters after the win.
“Rarely do you have an at bat like that when you end up hitting a homer. Bryce had a heck of an at bat, that’s a hitter’s at bat, not a slugger’s, because he realized what we needed, we needed baserunners. Then they walked Murph and then Anthony continues to come through in the clutch for us, that was big.
“I know they were hoping for a double play, it’s always dangerous when you put that winning run on base and then Anthony came through and then Wieters came through with a big hit and so our guys are pretty excited.”
“That was probably the best win of the year for us,” Baker added. “Tonight we got a big game, tomorrow again.”
The Orioles took the first two games of the four-game, two-city series in their home park, walking off last night and handing the Nationals their second and third straight losses after the Nats dropped the series finale to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday on a walk-off hit.
What was different tonight, of course, was that the Nationals had the chance to walk it off in the home-half of the ninth.
“That shows you the power of the last at bat,” Baker said.
“Because the other games we lost were in the last at bat, and so last night they won the game in dramatic fashion in the last at bat. They’re a good team. They’re a very good team. They’ve got a lot of power. They should go a long ways in their league and we should go a long ways in our league.
“Last year I was calling for a Beltway World Series, that would be kind of a dream come true for all of us, because I’ve been in the Bay Bridge World Series before, it didn’t end too well for us, but I tell you, like I said, they have an outstanding team and we certainly didn’t want to lose four in a row, because that would have negated a lot of work that we’ve done prior to that, but two of those three games we lost when we had the lead. Like I said, we’ll celebrate tonight, get a good night’s sleep and then have at it again tomorrow.”