Looking for a split of the four-game set with the Colorado Rockies, Washington’s Nationals fought all the way through the series finale in the nation’s capital, but it was a familiar face that made a difference in this one when Ian Desmond worked the count full against Nats’ closer Sean Doolittle and hit a two-out solo shot to center field in the ninth that decided the game, 6-5 Rockies.
#Stretchburg: Stephen Strasburg tossed eight scoreless against the Atlanta Braves last time out before this afternoon’s start in the series finale with the Rockies. That outing left the 29-year-old right-hander with a 2.21 ERA, a 3.80 FIP, five walks (2.21 BB/9), and 21 Ks (9.30 K/9) in three starts and 20 1⁄3 innings pitched early this season.
Over his last ten starts, going back to last September, the ‘09 No. overall pick’s 1.22 ERA in 74 IP was the lowest among all major league pitchers with at least 10 starts, and the righty’s .183 BAA, .235 opponents’ OBP, and .260 opponents’ SLG were the lowest amongst all NL starters over that stretch.
Stephen Strasburg, Ridiculous 89 mph Changeup (release/spin/movement).— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 15, 2018
Best changeup in Baseball today. pic.twitter.com/bleqejg4ob
Picking up where Max Scherzer left off yesterday, retiring the final 20 batters he faced after giving up a one-out, two-run home run in the first inning, Strasburg set 11 Colorado hitters in a row down to start the finale of the four-game set with the Rockies, before Charlie Blackmon, who hit the homer off Scherzer, got Strasburg too, taking a 3-2 fastball to right field for a solo shot that tied things up at 1-1.
No-no, no mo. pic.twitter.com/fJbdSeHkUZ— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 15, 2018
It was 3-1 Nationals when Strasburg took the mound in the sixth inning, having set four in a row down after Blackmon’s blast, and 16 of 17 overall on the day, and gave up a one-out hit and walk, a two-out, two-run double by Blackmon, and an RBI single by Carlos Gonzalez that made it 4-3 Rockies after five and a half. It was 4-4 a half-inning later when Matt Wieters tied it up with a solo shot to right.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 88 P, 52 S 6/4 GO/FO.
Hahpuh: Bryce Harper entered play today with a Major League-leading six home runs and and an MLB-best 1.143 OPS, and he added to his home run total with a solo shot in the first, hitting a first-pitch fastball from Rockies’ left-hander Tyler Anderson over the GEICO sign in center field to put the Nationals up 1-0 early in the series finale.
Complete list of @MLB players with more HRs than Bryce Harper:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 15, 2018
Rockies’ O: Colorado’s offense, which led all major league teams with a .273 AVG in 2017, entered play today with an NL-low .220 AVG on the season, which hasn’t been helped by the fact that through three games in this series they were hitless (0 for 16) with runners in scoring position, leaving them with a .215 AVG with RISP early in 2018.
Washington went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position early this afternoon, though they led 1-0 after three on the strength of Bryce Harper’s seventh home run of 2018.
Michael A. Taylor walked and moved into scoring position with one down in the fifth, giving the Nationals their sixth opportunity with a RISP on the day.
Trea Turner took his second walk of the day in the at bat that followed, his 13th walk on the season (one shy of Turner’s walk total in 324 PAs in 2016), but Wilmer Difo K’d swinging on a 3-2 change from Tyler Anderson (0 for 6 with RISP), leaving it up to Bryce Harper, who got to 3-2 and took the third walk of the inning (and sixth walk of the game from Anderson), loading them up in front of Ryan Zimmerman.
Tyler Anderson’s Line: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 47 S, 2/1 GO/FO.
Antonio Senzatela took over on the mound for the Rockies there, but threw a wild pitch (ruled a passed ball) inside to Zimmerman that allowed one run to come in, and catcher Chris Iannetta then threw the ball past the plate trying to get Taylor, allowing Turner to come in as well, 3-1.
Colorado’s first opportunity with a runner in scoring position came in the sixth, after a one-out single by pinch hitter Mike Tauchman and a walk by DJ LeMahieu in the next at bat, but Chris Iannetta flew out to center, (0 for 17 w/ RISP in the series), before Charlie Blackmon hit a 2-2 fastball by the first base bag for a two-run double and the Rockies’ first hit with RISP in the series, 3-3. Their second hit with RISP followed with Carlos Gonzalez driving Blackmon in with an RBI single, 4-3 Rockies.
Matt Wieters Again: After connecting for his first home run of the season in yesterday’s game, Nationals’ catcher Matt Wieters took Rockies’ reliever Bryan Shaw deep on a first-pitch cutter with one down in the bottom of the sixth, hitting his second blast in the last two days out over the high wall in right-center field to tie things up at 4-4.
Michael A. Taylor doubled in the next at bat, and Matt Adams and Trea Turner drew the seventh and eighth walks of the day from Colorado’s pitchers, loading’em up in front of Wilmer Difo. Jake McGee took over on the mound for Shaw, and got an inning-ending groundout from Difo to keep it tied.
Bullpen Action: Brandon Kintzler retired the Rockies in order in an 11-pitch seventh.
Kelley’s Homers: Shawn Kelley took over on the mound in the eighth, and surrendered a one-out, opposite field homer by DJ LeMahieu, who powered an 0-2 fastball out over the out-of-town scoreboard for a go-ahead blast that put the Rockies back on top, 5-4.
WHY? THEN YEAH!!!: Matt Wieters reached via hit-by-pitch with in the first at bat of the Nationals’ eighth, and then got thrown out trying to steal the ninth base of his ten-year career in the majors. Michael A. Taylor doubled one out later, and stole third base, before scoring on a wild pitch to tie it up at 5-5.
No. 4⃣2⃣ #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/dFGohjRkHS— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 15, 2018
DOOOOOONOTBOOOOOOO: Sean Doolittle struck the first two batters he faced out then went to a full count with Ian Desmond before giving up a solo shot to center by the former Nationals’ infielder, whose second hit of the series put the Rockies on top, 6-5. No. 4 of the season for Desmond.
Hey Desi, where did that ball go?? pic.twitter.com/QqDCkccfAm— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 15, 2018
Last Licks (ewww): Wade Davis came on for the save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth and locked down the series win for the Rockies... after pitching around Bryce Harper to get to Ryan Zimmerman, who grounded into a force at second to end it. Ballgame.
Final Score: 6-5 Rockies
Nationals now 7-9