With the score tied at 3-3 in the top of the tenth this afternoon, Washington Nationals’ left-hander Sammy Solis gave up a leadoff double by Nick Ahmed and a one-out walk to David Peralta that put runners on first and second for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nats’ manager Davey Martinez thought Chris Owings was announced as a pinch hitter, so he went to the bullpen for Austin L. Adams and a righty vs righty matchup. Except...
Owings wasn’t actually announced as a pinch hitter for left-handed hitting Diamondbacks’ outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
Nationals’ second baseman Howie Kendrick visited Solis on the mound while Martinez was deliberating, and home plate umpire Nic Lentz marked the visit down, but the D-backs did not make the change for a pinch hitter.
Adams came on anyway, after Martinez tried to argue with Lentz, and walked Dyson to load the bases, then walked A.J Pollock on a 3-2 slider low in the zone that he yanked outside, 4-3 Diamondbacks. That’s how it ended.
Martinez was asked about the sequence of events after the game, and owned up to what he said was a mistake on his part.
“I was looking down at my card to make a switch, when I looked up, I saw Owings and I saw the umpire with the lineup card,” Martinez explained.
“Didn’t realize Howie had come in, so [Lentz] was just marking the visit, so hey, I completely take ownership [of] that. It will never happen again, because I’ll make sure I’ll look right at him and say, ‘Is he in the game?’ But we had our chances to win, I mean, so, I’ve got nothing to say except for those guys in there are playing with heart, so we’ve just got to keep going.
“I told them all after the game, ‘Keep fighting. It will change.’”
D-backs’ skipper Torey Lovullo, for his part, said he wasn’t really sure what transpired in all the confusion.
“I’m not exactly sure,” Lovullo told reporters.
“I think that there might have been some confusion with the mound visit and the umpire maybe going to his card and logging the mound visit, I’m not exactly sure what had happened, but I just knew from my side, my angle, there was no unannounced substitution, the batter was still not even close to the batter’s circle, and I felt like he didn’t motion to me that the move was made so it was just the common sense thing to pull the hitter back and have the matchup you want.”
Did Martinez have any issue with the pitch selection from Adams and Pedro Severino, who went with a 3-2 slider instead of challenging Pollock with a full-count fastball?
“I want to see him throw his best pitch that he has,” Martinez said, “and [Adams] has a good slider, he really does. So, they felt that that was his best pitch and they threw it.”
He said he had a message for his team after the loss, telling them to keep fighting, that they are playing with heart, and pulling for each other, and things will change.
Did he talk to Adams, who came on and issued the back-to-back walks that forced in what ended up being the winning run?
“You just pat him on the back and say, ‘Hey, you know, you’ll get another opportunity, just keep your head up,’” Martinez said.
“Just hoping he throws strikes. Regardless of Owings pinch hitting, when I came back I said, ‘You know what, this is a pretty good matchup anyway.’ He’s got good stuff. It stinks that he walked two guys, but it happened, so we’ve just got to move on.”
The loss was the Nationals’ seventh in the last ten games, and their eighth in nine one-run games in the first month-plus this season.
They’ll try to salvage the finale of the three-game series tomorrow afternoon in the nation’s capital.