November 21, 2017

Washington Nationals Game 138 Review: LaRoche saves game and wins it — twice — in 14 innings

Adam LaRoche didn’t start this game, but he saved it — then ended it. TWICE.

LaRoche’s homer in the ninth inning tied the game to force extra innings, then a two-run single in the 12th gave the Washington Nationals another lead that went awry. Finally, in the 14th, his ground ball fielder’s choice brought home Ian Demsond and gave the Nats a tense, hard-fought win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-5 in five hours and 34 minutes.

With the Atlanta Braves win over Philadelphia, the Nats lead in the N.L. East held at seven games.

In the 14th, Ian Desmond reached on a one-out error by shortstop Justin Turner. He went to second on a walk by Bryce Harper and third on a passed ball by catcher Drew Butera. That brought up LaRoche, who didn’t start for the second day in a row due to back spasms, yet was about to take his third at bat.

LaRoche’s grounder to the left side erased Harper, but he beat out the relay and Desmond came home safely. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with his 14th homer of the season for the insurance the Nats needed to secure victory. Finally.

Blake Treinen, a roster expansion call-up pitched the 13th and 14 innings for the win.

There was plenty of action and drama to get to that point.

Bryce Harper led off the ninth against Dodgers closer Kanley Jansen with a single to left. Manager Matt Williams called upon Adam LaRoche, out of the starting lineup the past two days with back spasms, to pinch-hit for Tyler Moore. LaRoche got into a good hitting count at 2-1, then crushed a 92-MPH cutter off the top of the wall and into the stands in left field for a game-tying, two-run homer.

After Asdrubal Cabrera popped out, Jose Lobaton snuck a single through the right side, and Williams pinch-ran for him with Danny Espinosa. Espinosa stole second and took third on Steven Souza’s ground out. Denard Span then went 3-2 against Jansen, then laced a hard ground ball past Adrian Gonzalez at first to give the Nats their first lead of the day.

But no good deed goes unpunished.

Rafael Soriano gave up a one-out walk to Andre Ethier and with two down, Justin Turner lofted a fly ball into the right field corner. Jayson Werth didn’t get a good read on it from the get-go in high California sun, and the ball bounced out of his glove for an error and Ethier scored from first to force extra innings.

The Nats went quietly in the tenth. In the bottom, the Dodgers loaded the bases against Craig Stammen with one out. Xavier Cedeno, a roster expansion call-up, relieved to face Adrian Gonzalez. Cedeno struck out Gonzalez and Williams went to Aaron Barrett to face Juan Uribe, whom Barrett calmly struck out to end the threat.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out again, this time against Jerry Blevins in the 1th. Blevins got Drew Butera to pop up for out No. 2 and Dee Gordon struck out to end the inning.

The Nats loaded ‘em up in the 12th on a walk by Anthony Rendon and singles by Jayson Werth and Harper. LaRoche took a ball, then laced a single down the left field line to plate Rendon and Werth without a play.

Unfortunately, Tyler Clippard wasn’t up to the task. With two outs in the 12th, Juan Uribe’s grounder got underneath Asdrubal Cabrera’s glove, then Carl Crawford sent a shot into the stands in left to tie it back up.

Before all the drama in extra innings, there was drama in the late innings.

Scoreless in the seventh inning and one out, Carl Crawford’s flare to right fell in for a double. Zimmermann went 3-2 to Turner — including a near hit-by-pitch that had to be reviewed and home plate umpire Paul Schrieber granting Turner late time out on a strike pitch — before Turner launched a fly ball the barely made it out to straight-away center field, giving the Dodgers all the runs they needed.

The Nats (78-60) never mustered any offense against Dodgers’ spot starter Carlos Frias. Making his first MLB start, Frias shut the Nats down and out for six innings. He gave up just three hits and one walk, striking out four in the effort.

Zimmermann turned in another excellent start without run support. He gave up just the two earned runs on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

The Nationals have a day off Thursday before hosting the Phillies in a three-game series starting Friday. Stephen Strasburg (11-10, 3.49 ERA) faces Jerome Williams (3-0, 2.03 ERA) at 7:05 pm Friday.

  • The Nats went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base. The Dodgers went 2-for-9 and left 12.
  • Harper went 3-for-6 to raise his season batting average to .272.
  • Desmond went 0-for-6 and struck out four times, stranding six.
  • Werth went 2-for-4 with two walks.
  • The Nats set an organization record using 26 players in the game.
About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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