Friday night’s Nationals game versus the San Diego Padres can best be summed up by the father-daughter duo I encountered on the Metro last night after all was said and done: “It was perfectly awesome.”
Without a strong heart of the order and Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup, the Nats have struggled to get their offense cooking this season. They snapped a 1-7 losing skid in grand fashion Friday at the Navy Yard, though, in a 2-1 victory thanks to a lead-off, first pitch, walk-off homerun from Michael Morse.
Just a half inning before, right-handed pitcher Drew Storen gave up starter John Lannan’s win opportunity (ultimately claiming it for himself), allowing Padres shortstop Jason Bartlett to hit his first homerun of the season on a first pitch to lead-off the frame. Storen hung in there to get the win and Morse finished it off in grand style hitting homerun number six of the season.
Lannan pitched a great ballgame. It was so great, in fact, that the Nats only used two pitchers the entire night despite a 47 minute rain delay in the fourth inning. Lannan was effective, pitching 7.2 innings, and gave up two hits while walking two batters and collecting five strikeouts.
The Nats continued to struggle with men on base. Five base runners were stranded throughout the game and both runs scored were solo shot homeruns. Danny Espinosa hit Washington’s first homerun of the night in the fifth inning. It was his seventh of the season, marking a career high for the young second baseman.
Outfielder Rick Anikel caught a web gem in center field after third baseman Jerry Hairston, Jr. was ejected in the seventh. Ankiel likely would not have seen any field time during Friday’s contest, having just been reinstated on the roster after a stint on the disabled list for his wrist, had it not been for Hairston’s ejection.
Hairston was ejected due to a shouting match with home plate umpire Ed Hickox. Hairston called timeout but Hickox didn’t hear him. A verbal scuffle proceeded. Hairston got heated. Riggleman came out to the field but he didn’t make it in time and that was that.
Alex Cora replaced Hairston at third, Roger Bernadina shifted from center to left (replacing Brian Bixler), and Ankiel got some time back in center to catch a hard hit ball off the bat of Padres third baseman Chase Headley.