With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth the Nats were in a good position. They had the top of the order due up and the man batting third, Ryan Zimmerman, has earned the nickname Mr. Walk-off for a reason. The game would not get that far. Jayson Werth looked at the first two strikes he saw from Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn and then engaged in a war.
Ahead 0-2 Lynn wanted to entice Werth to swing at a ball and threw him a curveball and a fastball out of the zone. Werth swung at neither. Werth would then see five straight fastballs all fouled off. At times it looked like Allen Craig was close to catching them, but he would run out of room close to the stands. Werth then saw a breaking ball he fouled off, another fastball he hit foul, and a curveball he let go for ball three. Pitch 12 was a fastball that Werth hit foul. The more pitches a hitter sees in a plate appearance the more the advantage swings their way. Lynn wasn’t going to risk putting a runner on base and he knew Werth could ID and lay off his curve so he threw him one more fastball, and it was on this 13th pitch of the at bat that Werth earned the Nationals what they played this game for.
Coming into game four of the NLDS down 2-1 in the series the Nationals were playing for one more tomorrow, and on the mound to earn that for them was Ross Detwiler. 2012 was the longest Detwiler had pitched as a starter and his first season in which he suffered no injuries. As he had in many other games this season Detwiler showed why he was a first round pick and not just one of the other guys in the Nats rotation.
Detwiler pitched six innings of one run ball and that one run was unearned due to an Ian Desmond error in the top of the third. Pete Kozma walked to lead off the inning and Lohse sacrificed him to second. John Jay then grounded a routine ball to Desmond that skipped off of his glove and allowed Kozma to go to third and Jay to reach base safely. The next batter, Carlos Beltran, flew out to Harper to score Kozma from third and tie the game for the Cardinals. In the previous half inning LaRoche had given the Nationals a brief lead on a solo homer.
The NLDS has been an offensive struggle for the Nationals. In the first three games of the series they had scored a total of six runs and left countless men on base while the Cardinals piled up run totals of 12 and 8 in the previous two games, both Cardinals victories. Even with Jayson Werth’s walk-off victory over the Cardinals the Nationals struggled with men on base, but they didn’t have many. Lohse was as good if not better than Detwiler pitching eight innings of one run two hit ball.
Nationals pitching received a lift from their bullpen including the first ever relief appearance by Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann came into the game and found an extra gear in relief. Pumping 97 MPH fastballs Zimmermann was able to strikeout the side. He then turned it over to Tyler Clippard who would strikeout the side around a walk to Allen Craig. Finally in the top of the ninth it was up to Drew Storen and he struck out the first two he faced before walking Kozma and getting Matt Carpenter to pop-up to Ian Desmond who had to make a diving over the shoulder grab to corral the ball for the out.
The Nationals were playing for one more tomorrow. For one more shot to beat the Cardinals. To get Cy Young contender Gio Gonzalez back on the mound, and when a ball off of Jayson Werth’s bat landed in the Cardinals bullpen the Nats had earned their tomorrow.