August 18, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 137 Review: Brutal Loss for the Nationals

NATS DROP OPENER TO THE METS 8-5, FALL FIVE GAMES OUT

Some series are more important than others. Some series are where your team distinguishes itself from the competition, comes alive, and works to show their championship pedigree. On Monday afternoon, that was the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Their come-from-behind 8-5 win was the sort of game a playoff-bound team wins.

This Nationals-Mets tilt is the most important either team has played all season, and the atmosphere at Nationals Park was electric on Monday afternoon. The two teams traded haymakers on a holiday afternoon for a sold out crowd at Nationals Park, before it all fell apart for the Nationals in the seventh.

Max Scherzer found himself in trouble early thanks to the long ball. The Mets hit two solo shots in top of the second to put the Metropolitans up 2-0. Scherzer has had difficulty with the long ball after the All-Star Break, surrendering 14 homers in his starts after the summer classic, opposed to eight before. Kelly Johnson and Michael Conforto added to that total with shots to left and right.

Yoenis Cespedes, acquired by the Mets at the trade deadline, added a third bomb in the fourth, making it 3-0 Mets. Jonathon Niese had everything working through three innings, his placement was perfect, he was nibbling the corners, everything was coming up Mets.

Until it wasn’t anymore.

In the fourth, the Nats batted ten men. Ryan Zimmerman started the hit parade, and Yunel Escobar would keep it running with a single, and Ian Desmond setup the go-ahead situation with a clutch walk. That brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the person of Wilson Ramos. Ramos wrecked a 1-2 to make it 4-3 Nationals. The decibel level at the park was so intense, it was impossible to hear the Nats PR team over the PA as Ramos rounded the basis.

Michael A. Taylor added a single, and Jayson Werth added an RBI double to make it 5-3, and for a shining moment, it looked like the Nationals were going to have something to add to their late-season highlight reel. If you could bottle the excitement and hope in Nats fans’ hearts at that exact moment, you could power whole campaigns of good across the world.

But if you bottled what followed, not even a third world water company would sell that to farmers to water their livestock.

The Nationals’ bullpen came apart at the seams after being asked to pitch just three innings of relief. Scherzer went 6 innings, probably one more than he should have, but given how the bullpen performed, Williams likely would’ve wanted another frame from his ace.

Blake Treinen started the seventh for the Nationals giving up a hit to Wilmer Flores. Ruben Tejada hit a soft tapper to the right side and Treinen came sprinting in to field the ball. He opted to gun down Flores at second, barely completing the play.

That was all for Treinen, as he gave way for the lefty/lefty matchup of Felipe Rivero vs Curtis Granderson. As a lefty one-out guy, you have one job. That job is not to walk the batter, but Rivero worked the count full, and Granderson took his base. Since Rivero has struggled to pitch to righties, Williams replaced him with Casey Janssen. Janssen was little better.

David Wright put the Mets ahead 6-5 with a single to right, putting Janssen in line for the loss. But they weren’t done yet. Facing Matt Thornton, Daniel Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Granderson. Cespedes hit his second double of the day to make it 8-5.

Rafael Martin pitched the scoreless frame in the seventh in the eighth inning, and again in the ninth. Facing eight batters, he had four strikeouts, giving up just a hit and walk. He was the most successful reliever the Nationals had on Monday.

Despite knocking out the Mets’ starter in the fourth inning, the Nationals couldn’t put a rally together against the Mets bullpen. They put together a pair of hits in the fifth, but after that went down in order, 12 in a row from the 5th through the 8th.

Jayson Werth got aboard in the ninth with a single, but Jeurys Familia struck out Rendon, Harper and Zimmerman to end the game.

After the game, asked about Max Scherzer in the sixth, Williams was adamant that Scherzer was the “best option” for the club at that time, despite there being 89 pitches under his belt, and despite a need for a pinch hitter there in the fifth, “he’s our number one for a reason.”

HERO: Wilson Ramos for his clutch grand slam in the fourth.

GOAT: Matt Williams, Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero, Casey Janssen and Matt Thornton for a really abysmal seventh inning.

NEXT UP: Rematch. Jordan Zimmerman (12-8, 3.38) vs. Matt Harvey (12-7, 2.50) at 7:05pm Tuesday.

About Tom Bridge

Tom Bridge is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. Tom has been in love with baseball since he was 10. He is a founding editor of We Love DC, where he covered the Nationals and Capitals as a credentialed writer for four seasons. He grew up as an Oakland Athletics fan in the Central Valley in California, where he learned to appreciate Bill King, Mark McGwire and even Tony LaRussa. By day, he is a partner at Technolutionary LLC, where he handles IT operations. He cannot abide the Cardinals. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBridgeDSP.

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