There weren’t quite as many bodies in the stands as there were hours earlier for game one of the split day-night doubleheader against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park, but the Washington Nationals managed to wrap the day with a walk-off to beat Miami 5-4 in game two.
Manager Davey Johnson was quick to acknowledge the fact that the night’s right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg didn’t pitch a good game. Strasburg threw six innings and gave up three runs (one homerun) on 109 pitches (71 strikes) and walked two batters while striking out six.
Miami scored early in the first after second baseman Donovan Soloano hit a leadoff double down the left-field line. He reached home on outfielder Christian Yelich’s ground out and all of a sudden, the Nats were down 1-0.
The Marlins would tack on another run in the second inning when outfielder Justin Ruggiano crushed a ball that flew over the fence in left-center but that was the just beginning of a game-long fight for a win.
Washington came back to tie it up in the third inning when second baseman Anthony Rendon led off with a single to right field. He’d eventually score thanks Strasburg moving him to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt and outfielder Denard Span hitting a single to right-center. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman would bring Span home with a RBI-single; Marlins 2, Nats 2.
With the chase still on though, Miami caught back up when outfielder Giancarlo Stanton scored on a single hit to right-center by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in the fourth inning; Marlins 3, Nats 2.
The Marlins’ starter left-handed pitcher Brian Flynn was pulled after the fourth inning which gave Washington a chance to pounce again. The sixth inning yielded as the Nats tallied two more runs. First baseman Tyler Moore started the rally when he was hit by a pitch thrown by right-handed reliever Ryan Webb to lead off the inning. Moore was then replaced by pinch runner Jeff Kobernus. Pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi would move Kobernus along the base path to third on a double to left-center. Span’s single through the hole at second pace off left-handed reliever Dan Jennings would bring both Kobernus and Lombardozzi around to score; Marlins 3, Nats 4.
Unfortunately for the Nats, game two would not be won with ease even with a one-run lead in the sixth inning. The struggled continued once reliever Tylver Clippard entered the game in the eighth inning. Clippard gave up back-to-back doubles with one-out which resulted in another run for Miami; Marlins 4, Nats 4.
With the game tied after a long day of doubleheader baseball, the only options for the Nationals after the Marlins tied it back up were – going to extra innings or winning the game in a walk-off situation. Thanks to outfielder Jayson Werth’s leadoff double against right-handed reliever Sam Dyson, the Nats gathered every last bit of momentum they could to finish their final home game of the season with a win.
Werth was replaced by pinch runner Eury Perez. With Perez at first and one out, Miami walked shortstop Ian Desmond. Little did they know Johnson wanted his guys to go for the double-steal, which they accomplished, which meant Perez made it within 90 feet of scoring the winning run. Catcher Wilson Ramos stepped to the dish and grounded into an E5 which brought Perez around to score; Marlins 4, Nats 5.
PS – The Nats, and their fans, can thank Marlins third baseman Chris Coghlan for that game-ending, walk-off-inducing error.