The Washington Nationals (49-34) weren’t able to head into the mid-summer break on a winning note, dropping the final game and series (2-1) to the Rockies 4-3, but as Tyler Clippard said, “You don’t ever want to get too comfortable.”
It was another scorcher, a hot Washington sun beating down 9 innings reminding the Nationals every second just how uncomfortable they were and how far away they still were from the All-Star break.
Highlights and lowlights of the game include a Harper-dominated 3rd inning, in which he stole not just 2nd base, but also 3rd immediately after; neither of which amounted to any runs scored.
The crowd of 25,125 roared as Ian Desmond kept the fire stoked behind his bat, ripping his second homer in as many days, and claiming the 2-1 lead for the Nationals in the 4th. That’s 17 on the year for Ian, more than any other shortstop across the league.
A 7th inning single that quickly turned sour for Steve Lombardozzi, equally marked an ominous turn in momentum for the Nationals. While the runner scored from home on the single, as Lombardozzi tried to press for a double, he got caught in a rundown between 1st and 2nd that would employ more than half the Rockies on the field to get him out: a classic 9-6-3-5-2.
The home team would quickly watch their 3-1 lead dissipate from there, much as Jordan Zimmermann would sit from the bench and watch the lead he so steadfastly protected disappear in the 8th.
In a shoddy relief effort, Sean Burnett gave up solo Home Run to Colorado’s pinch hitter Eric Young, who scored the first of 2 lead-busting runs for the Rockies in the 8th inning.
One pitching change and a Michael Gonzalez Wild Pitch later, the Nationals were staring at a tie ballgame and a dog fight standing between them and the next 4 days off.
Tyler Clippard, the beacon of consistency for his bullpen all year, entered into the game to hold off the Rockies from inflicting any further damage. But as the weather finally got cooler, a breeze filling the muggy stadium air, the Rockies bats got hotter.
Catcher Jordan Pachecho led off the 9th inning with a double, priming his teammates for small ball. A sacrifice bunt quickly moved him over to 3rd base, and in a very rare lapse of consistency of the Nationals closer, Tyler Clippard chucked a Wild Pitch into the backstop bringing Pachecho home and a sigh of relief to the visiting Rockies.
The Nats were never able to overcome the 4-3 lead the Rockies had sucker punched them with.
One of the more tenured players on the Nats roster as he comes into his own, Ian Desmond (17 Home Runs, 51 RBI) has a lot to reflect on, as he sits at home in Sarasota…watching his teammates in the All-Star Game on television.
“We’re in first place, and that’s really the only thing I care about, ” Desmond said after the game, “When i came here in 2009, I hated losing. Just terrible. I’m just happy that we’re in 1st place and I’m contributing.”
Jordan Zimmerman lost another lead and the Washington Nationals lost their high, all in time for a nice long 4 days to think it all over.
- Chris Lingebach (Nats Reporter)
Bryce Harper joins Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan on Monday at 11:00 a.m.