Perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come when Tyler Clippard took the mound in the top of the 11th and then promptly fell down trying to deliver his first pitch. Clippard caught a spike and then spun to the ground without releasing the ball. On his next pitch he managed to release the pitch but it was a ball well off the plate. When everything was said and done Drew Stubbs stood on first after collecting a single off of Clippard. The next batter would pop a bunt into the air that Zimmerman would catch with an amazing diving play. One more batter would single before the Reds big threat, Joey Votto, would come to the plate with two on and one down with the score tied at 5-5 in the top of the 11th.
Votto who received a $200 million extension in the off-season demonstrated why he was worth it with a two RBI double to give the Reds the lead. Rolen would then single up the middle to give the Reds a final insurance run before handing the ball over to the shaky bullpen. Sean Marshall would allow the first two batters he faced in LaRoche and Werth to reach base via singles, but would retire the side to end the Nats threat and five game winning streak.
Before Clippard took the mound or Wilson Ramos stepped to the plate representing the final out this game was likely decided. In the first inning Ross Detwiler got in some trouble when Cozart singled off of him, but he was able to get Votto out which would bring Scott Rolen to the plate with two out and one on. Detwiler would induce a grounder to Ian Desmond and Desmond rifled a throw over to Adam LaRoche. LaRoche had to come off the bag in order to corral the throw but was able to get back to the bag in time to get the force play. However LaRoche also went for a tag on Rolen and the umps eyes may have been on the tag and missed the fact that LaRoche’s foot had found the bag.
After that missed call at first by umpire Mike Everett Jay Bruce would be the Reds batter. Bruce worked himself into a full count before taking a 3-2 slider that appeared to catch most of the plate. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz didn’t see it that way however and sent Bruce on his way to first to load the bases. Ryan Ludwick would then hit the seventh pitch of his at bat into the Red Porch for a Reds grand slam.
It is tough for a team to come back from being four runs down but the Nationals would do just that. They would rally for three runs in the fourth, another run in the fifth, and then tie the game in seventh. The Nationals should have scored more runs though. The Nationals offense has struggled this season with situational hitting. Coming into Sunday’s contest against the Reds the Nats had managed to plate a runner from 3rd with less than two outs just 30% of the time which is third worse in the NL.
In the bottom of the 4th inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd after mounting a rally that had pulled the Nats within three after an Adam LaRoche single had scored Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth popped up. In the 5th inning after an Ian Desmond double scored Roger Bernadina to pull the Nats within one Danny Espinosa grounded out softly with the infield drawn in which failed to advance Desmond home who had advanced to third on the throw. If the Nats had managed to plate either of those runners then the outcome of the game could have been different.
The fact that the Nats were down 4-0 after the first and 5-0 after the top of the third and managed to come all the way back to tie the game and force extra innings should not be ignored. The Reds along with the Cardinals are the favorites in the NL Central. The Nationals took three of four from a good team, and made them work extra hard for that one win. There is a lot that can be debated about this game, but the one thing that cannot be might be the most important. If this Nationals can play with this much heart in all of their games then they will win more than they lose.