August 19, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 15 Review: Cardinals capitalize on Nationals mistakes, win 4-1

With the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals tied at a game apiece in the series, Thursday’s getaway day matchup was intense. Michael Wacha and Max Scherzer went toe-to-toe in a pitchers’ duel at Nationals Park. The cool weather didn’t deter the crowds, nor did the 7pm faceoff of the Capitals game. The cool heads, though, weren’t to be found. The Cardinals capitalized on the Nationals’ defensive miscues again, and won 4-1, despite an excellent start from Scherzer.

The Cardinals scored their first run early on a Matt Carpenter double, a Jason Heyward single, and a rare wild pitch from Scherzer, and that was all the offense the Cardinals assembled until the sixth inning. The Nationals responded in the fifth, getting a double off the bat of Danny Espinosa, who moved to third on an error by first baseman Matt Adams on a grounder off the bat of Scherzer. Denard Span drove in Espinosa — and Scherzer went from first to third! — on a single to the right field gap.

With two outs in the sixth, the Cardinals staged a small rally, with a single for Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday getting grazed by a fastball, and a single by Matt Adams to go up 2-1 and put the game away. Scherzer left after seven full, despite a fine outing, marking a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 4 K, 0 BB, 2 ER on just 82 pitches.

Scherzer’s departure was the result of his fifth inning hit, where he jammed his hand a bit. Manager Matt Williams said in the postgame press conference that Scherzer’s next start would likely not be affected, and they were just being cautious.

Williams also revealed that Zimmerman was battling a bit of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, especially as he turned past the bag on his single in the fourth inning. Zimmerman will likely see a day off in the near future to help that heal.

In the eighth, it looked like the bullpen might get a moment of cruise control, as Matt Thornton retired Carpenter and Heyward quickly. Matt Holliday had other plans. Holliday fired a single up the middle to start the short two-out rally. Mark Reynolds entered the game to replace Matt Adams, and brought Aaron Barrett out of the pen to alter the matchup.

Reynolds smacked a hit to the right field scoreboard to score Holliday. Danny Espinosa relayed the ball high over the mitt of Jose Lobaton. Covering for Lobaton was Barrett, who tried to cut down Reynolds just beyond second, only to throw the ball into deep center, allowing Reynolds to score and put the game out of reach.

Four times Thursday the Nationals had the leadoff man aboard and failed to score a run, and three of those saw the first two men aboard with no one out. Twice, the Nationals swung on the first pitch and grounded into double plays, practically erasing the advantage.

Michael Wacha had another impressive start for the Cardinals and improved to 3-0 on the strength of 7IP, 5H, 1 ER, 2 BB and 6K. Jordan Walden and Trevor Rosenthal each threw scoreless innings to retire the Nationals in the eighth and ninth, garnering a hold and a save respectively.

The Nationals leave tonight for a ten-game road trip to Miami, Atlanta and New York, before returning home on May 4 for three against the Braves.

HERO: Another fine outing from Max Scherzer keeps the Nats in the hunt on this one. The game only went off the rails only after he left.

GOAT: Aaron Barrett. The Bear came in needing to just get a single out, but gave up a double to pinch hitter Mark Reynolds. It was compounded by a terrible throw from Barrett, who was backing up Jose Lobaton on the play, which allowed Reynolds to complete the Little League home run.

NATS NOTES

  • Danny Espinosa narrowly missed a home run in the 5th, hitting the 18″ portion of the right field wall immediately adjacent to the foul poul. He is believed to be the first to hit that particular feature of Nats Park.
  • Scherzer’s 1.26 ERA through four starts is impressive, but his WHIP of 0.85 is stellar.
  • The run in the 8th that Matt Thornton gave up was the first earned run he’s given up as a National, dating back to his August 2014 arrival. 26 IP, 1 ER. That’ll do.
  • The Nats amassed a 4-3 record on the homestand.

NEXT UP: The Nats take to the skies tonight, heading to Miami to start a three-city road trip. Mat Latos (0-3, 10.24) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (1-2, 6.14)

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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