August 17, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 151 Review: Machado beats Scherzer, Nats fall 4-3

LATE HOME RUN IS DIFFERENCE-MAKER AS ELIMINATION NUMBER DROPS TO FIVE

A late home run by Manny Machado ruined Washington’s night on Wednesday. As Nationals fans celebrated the arrival of the Pope — in part hoping for a miracle — the Orioles doused the coals of the Nationals season. Max Scherzer racked up 11 strikeouts, but surrendered a pair of home runs. The Nationals assembled 3 runs on extra base hits from Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos.

There’s a point in every season where a fan’s emotional investment evaporates. Some years, that’s after the last out of the last game your team plays, others it’s late in the season when your team has moved from dark horse to longshot.

I hit that point about a week ago, and since then, every game I’ve watched has been about appreciating the finer points. Baseball is a game of so many collected nuances, each more beautiful than the last.

Max Scherzer’s seventh inning was, for three batters, the exact sort of thing that the Nationals paid $210M to acquire. Scherzer, trying to limit the bullpen to just two frames, gave up a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy. Coming into the inning, Scherzer had thrown more than 100 pitches, and he’d kept the rally alive back in the fifth, at 95 pitches. With a man on second, Scherzer engaged that competitor’s mode that he keeps for his final ten pitches. Jimmy Paredes took a 98mph four-seam fastball for strike three, out number one. Gerrardo Parra grounded into a easy out in front of the runner, freezing Hardy.

Manny Machado stepped in. Having been denied time at 0-2 in the fifth, and striking out on a fastball down Broadway, Machado was hungry. Scherzer kept notching his velocity upwards. 97. 97. 97. 89. 98.

That last one left the park, landing in the last row of the Red Porch seats, and it gave the Orioles the lead for the night. Machado stopped to enjoy his handiwork, and rounded the bases in a stately manner.

That had consequences, too, as Jonathan Papelbon, on to pitch the ninth, threw up and in on Machado until he hit the young third baseman. The umpires, spotting malice aforethought, sent Machado to first and Papelbon to the showers. After the game, Bryce Harper suggested that he was expecting reprisal from the Orioles in the nightcap, while Papelbon said it didn’t matter if he was throwing at Machado, because “perception is reality.”

When you’ve hit the point of no return with a season, when you’ve released your emotional ties, and can just appreciate the beauty of the game, you can survive nights like tonight. Otherwise, I can only recommend Old Granddad and some Tylenol PM. At least that way you can sleep til morning and do it all over again.

HERO: No Heroes Tonight.

GOAT: I want to give Scherzer a goat tonight, but I can’t. I want to give Williams a goat for not pulling him, but I can’t. Instead, we learn the hard lesson that not every loss has a solely responsibility party. It is a zen koan.

NEXT UP: Series Finale at 4:05pm. Tyler Wilson vs. Tanner Roark.

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.

%d bloggers like this: