December 9, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 155 Review: Nats Fall Apart in Finale Against the Phillies

As if being eliminated from the playoffs not even 24 hours earlier wasn’t enough, the Washington Nationals experienced a complete meltdown in the ninth inning of Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies who beat the Nats 12-5.

To make matters worse, closer Jonathan Papelbon assaulted outfielder Bryce Harper in the dugout after Harper popped out to left field in the eighth inning. To add to the escalating in-game tension, Papelbon went back out to pitch the ninth and Harper was replaced by outfielder Matt den Dekker who switched from left to right field.

Washington had a chance to beat the Phillies on Sunday before the ninth inning implosion with Papelbon on the mound. The Nats took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning on back-to-back home runs hit by shortstop Ian Desmond and den Dekker off Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Harang.

Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez held the Phillies up until he gave up two runs in the sixth inning allowing Philadelphia to tie it up. Gonzalez pitched five innings and gave up two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out three batters. He threw 89 pitches and 55 strikes.

The Nats regained their lead in the seventh inning, making it 4-2, when Desmond and den Dekker hit back-to-back singles and eventually scored.

But after Gonzalez’s exit as the Nats pitcher through five innings pitched, manager Matt Williams went through five relievers — including Rafael Martin, Matt Grace, Doug Fister, Casey Janssen, and Felipe Rivero — who eventually blew the game.

Philadelphia tied it back up at 4-4 in the eighth inning against Janssen with a two-run homer hit by outfielder Jeff Francoeur with one out.

Once Papelbon entered the game in the eighth for the inning’s last out, he retired two batters — on a pop out to left field and K — before the Phillies pounced all over him in the ninth. Papelbon was removed and replaced by reliever Sammy Solis but only after facing seven batters in the ninth and giving up five runs (two earned), walking two, striking out one, and hitting a batter.

The Phillies made it 12-4 in the ninth but the Nats would take on one more run in the bottom half before calling it a day. A sacrifice ground out hit by catcher Jose Lobaton off reliever Ken Giles sent den Dekker — who set a career high going 4 for 4 with a homer run, two singles, and a double — home to tally the afternoon’s final score of 12-5.

NATS NOTES:

  • Desmond received a nice ovation when he was called back to the dugout from the field prior to the official start of the ninth inning. He was replaced by Trea Turner. It was a bittersweet yet touching moment as Desmond acknowledged Turner and then the fans at Nats Park. Desmond also went 3 for 3 with two singles and a homer.
  • The back-to-back homers hit by Desmond and den Dekker in the second inning off Aaron Harang was the third time the Nats hit back-to-back homers this season.

UP NEXT: LHP Brandon Finnegan (4-1, 3.65) and the Cincinnati Reds face RHP Max Scherzer (12-12, 2.98) and the Washington Nationals in Washington, D.C. on Monday at 3:05 p.m.

About Rachel Levitin

Rachel Levitin is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. For the past five seasons, she was credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals as an author for We Love DC. During her time spent with WLDC, Rachel composed game stories, covered off-the-field special events, and chronicled both of the Nats’ recent playoff runs. In addition to her work with WLDC, Rachel’s writing has been featured in the Washington Examiner and on MASNSports.com where she has been a featured guest blogger for the Nationals Buzz blog since 2011. Her love for baseball stems from having grown up on the north side of Chicago and falling in love with the sport’s history as a result of growing up just minutes from Wrigley Field. Rachel moved to DC in 2005 and has been following along with the Nats since their inaugural season. You can follow Rachel on Twitter @RHLevitin.

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