After losing the series finale to the Chicago Cubs on a walk-off grand slam by David Bote on Sunday night in Wrigley Field, the Washington Nationals dropped the series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on a walk-off home run by Paul DeJong that ended a back-and-forth battle in Busch Stadium.
Juan Soto’s 15th home run of the season put the Nationals up 4-2 on the Cardinals in the top of the seventh inning, but Jedd Gyorko homered off Justin Miller in the bottom of the eighth inning, 4-3, and Sammy Solis came on and gave up a single by pinch hitter Patrick Wisdom and a three-run home run to left by Matt Carpenter, who connected for the fourth home run off Solis by a left-hander this season and his 33rd of 2018, 6-4.
Why pitch to Carpenter there, with first base open? Yadier Molina was due up next, are you better off trying for a double play with the catcher at the plate and the bases loaded?
Daniel Murphy and Matt Wieters hit RBI singles in the top of the ninth, however, tying it up at 6-6, before Koda Glover came on and gave up DeJong’s walk-off blast, 7-6 Cardinals.
DeJong DeLivers the mic drop! pic.twitter.com/mOyVyl6baM— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 14, 2018
“You score a couple points there, you’re ahead, you match up guys to where you think they’re going to succeed, and it doesn’t work out,” Davey Martinez said after the loss.
“Those boys in there are playing unbelievable, I mean, we didn’t give up. Came back, get Koda in the game, he falls behind and gives up a homer. Solis comes in and gets good matchups with the lefties, can’t get them out, gives up a homer. So we’ve just got to keep battling. It’s tough when you have your closer, your set-up guy, your seventh-inning all beat up. So we’ve just got to keep battling.”
Solis, in particular, has struggled to retire left-handed hitters this season, with Carpenter’s hit leaving lefties 20 for 70 against the southpaw this season (.286 AVG).
Martinez was asked if he’d have to rethink his plan for how he’ll use Solis.
“Yeah, I mean I don’t know what else to do,” he said. “I mean, I put him in — like I said, he’s got to get lefties out. I put him up against lefties, I know it’s not easy, but that’s his job, and he hasn’t been able to do that.”
Dealing with back-to-back, walk-off losses, Martinez admitted, is never easy.
“It’s hard,” he said. “I came in and I said, you know what, I’m proud of the way they were fighting and battling and scratching and clawing, I really am. I told myself, hey, I’ve got to start thinking about tomorrow already and seeing what we’re going to do with our bullpen, and try to see who’s available and who’s not available and try to piece it all together. But I want those guys in there to know, keep playing the way they’re playing.
“This will turn around. We’re going to get some guys back. We’re going to get healthy, just keep playing. I mean, our offense is doing really well right now. We’re playing good defense. Just keep playing baseball, that’s all I ask, just keep playing baseball and this thing will turn around.”