Trailing 4-3 in the ninth and in danger of dropping 2 of 3 to the NL East’s second-place Philadelphia Phillies in the nation’s capital, Davey Martinez’s Washington Nationals put together a late rally and walked off on their divisional rival.
Martinez has had patience while waiting for the Nats’ offense to come up with big hits early in 2018, and he’s preached it too.
Against the Phillies, the Nationals’ patient approach at the plate paid off and led to their first walk-off win of 2018.
Back-to-back one-out walks by Moises Sierra and Wilmer Difo and consecutive singles by Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon resulted in two runs in the eighth, making it a one-run game, and an infield single Matt Wieters, who hustled to first base and beat the throw on a grounder to second, an errant pick attempt that allowed pinch runner Rafael Bautista to take third base, a hit-by-pitch on Howie Kendrick, a base-loading walk by Michael A. Taylor, and run-scoring walk by Pedro Severino tied things up, 4-4, before Difo hit a walk-off single to center over a drawn-in Philly infield to give the Nationals the win.
“Guys just kept grinding, grinding away their ABs,” Max Scherzer said, after tossing 6 1⁄3 in which he gave up five hits and one earned run while striking out 15 batters.
“Just finding ways to get on base, and when everybody got their number called, they found a way to help the team win, especially [Severino] with the big at bat to draw a walk and then Difo with the walk-off, and to win the series and have a happy flight going out to San Diego.”
“I’m not going to lie right now, I need a glass of wine,” Martinez said as he sat for his post game press conference in Nationals Park.
“Look, Max set the tone, he did,” the first-year skipper continued. “He gave us everything he had. And I told the boys, “Hey, keep battling, it’s not over.’” It turned out to be good advice.
The only run Scherzer was charged with scored once he’d left the mound.
He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, picked up his 15th K, and was replaced with a runner on second base. Sammy Solis came on to face Nick Williams and gave up an RBI single to center on a 1-2 curve that Williams threw his bat at.
Brandon Kintzler gave up back-to-back, two-out hits that drove in the Phillies’ second and third runs of the game.
They added one in the top of the eighth on a Maikel Franco homer off Carlos Torres before the Nationals drew close in the bottom of the inning and overtook the Phillies in the home-half of the ninth after Sean Doolittle tossed a scoreless top of the inning.
“[Sean] Doolittle coming in and shutting them down was awesome, and [Sammy] Solis — I tip my hat to all those guys,” Martinez said. “Solis made a great pitch, guy stuck his bat out.
“[Brandon] Kintzler came in there and threw one bad pitch, and [Franco] hit it, but the boys battled.
“Rendon had a good at bat. Matt Adams had a good at bat. They all battled their butts off and I’m proud of them.”
In the ninth, the Nationals took what they were given as Phillies’ closer Hector Neris threw seven of his 19 pitches for strikes, walked two of the five batters he faced and gave up two singles.
“We preach it all the time, you know, ‘Hey, take your walks. Walks are a big part of it, get on for the next guy,’ you know,” Martinez said.
“And they did that that last inning, They showed their patience and they took their walks.”
Instead of a deflating loss at the end of a 6-4 homestand, Washington headed out to San Diego after a 7-3 run in the nation’s capital. And they took 2 of 3 from the Phillies to pull within 2.0 games of the division-leading Atlanta Braves.
“We play games within our division, any time you can win the series, that’s huge. And this was a swing,” Martinez said.