A game that was well-within the Washington Nationals’ grasp got away from them on Monday night during an eighth inning implosion from right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard allowing the Los Angeles Angels to win 4-2 in D.C.
Clippard’s 2/3 innings of work resulted in three hits, a walk, a strike out, and four unearned runs. Manager Matt Williams emphasized that he thinks Clippard is making quality pitches but he hasn’t found much consistency with his fast ball and couldn’t find his change-up either. Williams is confident that Clippard is still the Nats’ eighth inning man but with more outings like Monday night’s he’ll really have to start to find some consistency if possible.
Despite the loss, the night’s right-handed starting pitcher Tanner Roark had a successful night on the mound. Roark pitched 105 pitches and 63 strikes over 6 2/3 innings of work while striking out five and walking two (one intentionally).
Angels’ right-handed pitcher Garrett Richards appeared to be unhittable when the Nats’ lineup stepped up to bat. They only managed one hit, one run, and four walks over six innings of work. That hit – from Jose Lobaton in the third inning – got a man base but didn’t result in a run. Instead, an interesting string of fourth inning events resulted in Washington’s only run of the night.
Richards opened the fourth inning by issuing back-to-back walks to outfielders Denard Span and Bryce Harper. Span and Harper then advanced during outfielder Jayson Werth’s at-bat since Richards hit him with a pitch. Washington would then go on to score with Span heading home on a fielder’s choice play initiated by an at-bat from first baseman Adam LaRoche.
The 1-0 lead Washington had over Los Angeles stuck until Clippard’s implosion and subsequent four-run Angels rally in the eighth. From the mound-deflected grounder that allowed Angels first baseman Albert Pujols to reach base, the eighth inning was trouble for the Nats. Clippard recorded two outs (a strikeout to third baseman Ian Stewart and putout at shortstop hit by outfielder Brennan Boesch), but a three-run, two-out double by pinch hitter (and Nat-killer) Raul Ibañez laid on a pressure the Nats couldn’t come back from.
Shortstop Ian Desmond fought back in the ninth with a leadoff solo homerun – his fourth of the season – hit to the red porch seats in left-center field making it a 4-2 game. But, after a night riddled with more errors on his part (he tallied his ninth of the season), it looks like it may be a little while until these Nats settle into a consistent momentum on the field.