Sean Doolittle had given up four hits total by left-handed batters (4 for 34, .118 AVG) before he took the mound in the ninth inning on Friday night in San Diego, and gave up a one-out triple by Eric Hosmer and an RBI single by Josh Naylor, both left-handed hitters, which tied things up at 4-4 a half-inning after Washington took a 4-3 lead.
The third hit of the inning, by right-handed hitter Austin Hedges, gave the Padres a walk-off win.
Doolittle’s blown save was his third in 16 opportunities this season. Hosmer lined a 94 MPH, first-pitch fastball off the base of the wall in right field in Petco Park, that bounced by both Adam Eaton and Victor Robles, then Naylor hit another first-pitch fastball to center to drive Hosmer in and tie it up.
Naylor stole second, without much of a look from Doolittle, or a throw, after driving in the tying run, and he scored from there ahead of a throw in from Juan Soto in left on Hedges’ walk-off hit.
“We go into the bottom of the ninth feeling pretty good, up by a point with Doolittle,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the 5-4 loss. “I’ll take that every day.”
It didn’t work out on Friday night, however, and it hurt a little more after the Nationals rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the seventh and went ahead in the top of the ninth.
“Boys battled back,” Martinez said. “We played good baseball, battled back to take the lead, and just the ninth inning just got away. Had two outs, Hosmer put a good swing on the ball, got in the gap, and that Naylor guy with two outs, base hit up the middle, so it’s just one of those days, come back tomorrow.”
While the Nationals played good baseball, for the most part, with three straight singles and a two-out, two-run double in the seventh tying things up, before Brian Dozier doubled and moved up on a Victor Robles’ bunt (after a hit-by-pitch on Yan Gomes), and scored on a wild pitch by Adam Warren in the ninth. Gomes got thrown out at third trying to advance on a fly ball by Gerardo Parra for the third out of the inning.
“He’s got to be 1,000% sure he’s going to make it,” Martinez said when he was asked about the decision-making by his catcher there. “You don’t make the third out at third.”
Yan Gomes owned up to the mistake of trying to tag: "I saw myself get hosed. That was stupid. That's something I don't need to be doing."— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) June 8, 2019
And Doolittle letting Naylor get a big jump when he stole second before scoring the game-winning run? Were they letting him take that base?
“No,” Martinez said. “He was two feet from the base. We looked up and he was — you know, but at that particular moment you want Doo to just concentrate on getting outs, you need to get one out.”
Doolittle couldn’t get that final out. It snapped a string of five straight scoreless outings for the Nationals’ closer, who’d given up three hits in 5 2⁄3 IP over that stretch.
“Shoot, man. I just got beat,” Doolittle said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the loss.
He said he the stolen base by Naylor caught him by surprise, with his concentration on the hitter. Overall though, he thought he had good stuff on the mound.
“Some of the other times where I had rough ones, I felt like I didn’t have my best stuff and they took advantage. Tonight I thought I had pretty good stuff. I thought I made some pitches, and I gave myself a chance to get the save and get out of the inning. I just got beat.”
“You’ve got Doolittle on the mound, you know,” Martinez said, when asked about the Padres’ approach against the closer, swinging early in the count for two of three ninth-inning hits.
“He’s high fastball, as you know, you saw he struck out two righties with high fastballs. I think the one ball to Hosmer was kind of down, but like I said, I’ll take my chances every time with Doolittle out there.”