December 7, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 72 Review: Desmond’s Sacrifice Beats the Braves

A sacrifice fly hit to left field by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond off reliever David Ardsma in the eleventh inning with one out and the bases loaded led Washington to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in D.C. after a solid eight-inning performance from starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday night.

Zimmermann threw 100 pitches and 76 strikes over eight innings and gave up six hits while striking out six batters.

Washington’s offense struggled to get started against Braves starter Shelby Miller and remained dormant until the fourth inning when second baseman Anthony Rendon drew a single off the right-hander. That single was quickly erased by a double play induced by third baseman Yunel Escobar to end the inning.

The Nats grew quiet again as Miller settled into a grove and faced the minimum through six innings pitched but Washington managed to get on the board in the bottom of the seventh when outfielder Denard Span scored on a bloop single hit over the head of Braves second baseman Jace Peterson in right field by outfielder Bryce Harper to take a 1-0 lead.

Nats closer Drew Storen came in to replace Zimmermann in the ninth and was up a run but Atlanta managed back-to-back singles off Storen to jump-start a late rally. Braves outfielder Nick Markakis tied up the game 1-1 as third baseman Kelly Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to Span in center field off Storen.

Harper picked Washington’s offense back up in the eleventh inning after getting jammed up in the ninth. He hustled around the diamond, losing his batting helmet to the dirt on the base path, for a one-out double hit off reliever Dana Eveland before scoring on a bases loaded, sacrifice walk-off fly out hit by Desmond off Ardsma to beat Atlanta 2-1.

HERO: Ian Desmond. A sacrifice fly can make all the difference in a one run game. In this case, it was a positive night for Desmond and an exhilarating extra-inning win for the Nats.

GOAT: Drew Storen. What works one night might not work on the other. The heart of Atlanta’s order came after Storen and hit him just hard enough to make a dent.

NATS NOTES:

  • Reliever Felipe Rivero earned his first Major League win with his eleventh inning pitching appearance. Rivero gave up a single, struck out two batters.
  • Danny Espinosa got some work in at second base when he entered the game as a pinch hitter for Zimmermann in the seventh inning. He was intentionally walked in the tenth.

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 4:05 p.m. Matt Wisler (1-0, 1.13) and the Atlanta Braves face Doug Fister (2-3, 4.80) and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

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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