With losses in two of three on the road in Citizens Bank Park, the Washington Nationals fell to 14-19 on the season, and 7-8 away from D.C., three games into a 10-game, three-city trip which takes them from Philadelphia to Milwaukee and then Los Angeles this week.
After a stirring comeback on Saturday night, the Nationals fell behind 2-0 early in the series finale, with errors by both Carter Kieboom and Jake Noll in the first inning leading to a two-run deficit, and though Kurt Suzuki homered for the third time in three games to make it a one-run game after four, a five-run sixth for the Phillies gave the home team a decisive win in the series.
“We can’t give teams 30-31 outs, can’t happen,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the loss.
“More so than that, it cost [Aníbal Sánchez] 25 pitches in the first inning, so, we’ve got to catch the ball. We’ve got to make plays. We didn’t hit good, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t go out there and catch the baseball and get outs.”
Of course, Sánchez would have avoided giving up any runs in the first if home plate umpire Chris Conroy hadn’t blown the call on the 0-2 curveball he threw César Hernández that was in the zone, but called a ball (Pitch No. 3 below).
That at bat ended on the fifth pitch Sánchez threw, when Hernández hit a sharp grounder to first that ate up Noll at first base, allowing the two runs to score.
Sánchez threw 44 pitches total in the first, but hung around to throw 108 over 4 2⁄3 IP, trying to do what he could to help the team by hanging around.
“In the first inning, I threw a lot of pitches,” Sánchez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the game.
“For me, that’s the key to the game. I’ve never thrown that many pitches in the first inning. I just wanted to throw as many pitches as I can the rest of the innings and keep us in the game.”
Martinez was asked if he would address the errors that extended Sánchez’s first with his team.
“We’ve just got to get better,” he said. “I know they’re working. We’re bringing those young guys out early, they’re getting their early work. We’re working on it, but they’ve just got to catch the ball. I address it all the time with them, ‘Hey, hitting comes and goes,’ you know, we all know that, but making the routine plays and running the bases hard, that’s a constant, we’ve got to do that every day.”
Did the fact that they were able to keep it close, even with a makeshift lineup, after they lost both Matt Adams (10-Day IL, shoulder strain) and Michael A. Taylor (jammed left wrist) to the latest injuries for a roster which is already without regulars like shortstop Trea Turner, third baseman Anthony Rendon, and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, make the way things went awry in the bottom of the sixth, with the five runs in the inning on three singles, a botched bunt, a walk, and a two-run double off left-hander Matt Grace, even more disappointing?
“Well, like I said,” Martinez explained, “the fact that we started off by giving them two runs in the first inning, and then playing catchup, we were still down, but Suzuki puts us within one, and like I said, Grace had good stuff, but just fell behind a couple times and when you fall behind 3-1, 3-2 to some pretty good hitters, that stuff happens.”