Four walk-offs in five days, a nine-game winning streak, and first place in the National League East – that’s where the Washington Nationals currently stand after their 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. After a strong seven-inning shutout appearance from right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark for Washington, reliever Tyler Clippard blew the save, but the Nats came back in the form of an Anthony Rendon pinch-hit RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth with one out and two on base to win it.
“It’s a little stressful,” Rendon said of the situation, “[I’ve] probably got some grays coming in now but it’s actually [it’s] good to be on the winning side of these walk-offs for sure.”
Outfielder Bryce Harper scored the winning run for Washington in the ninth as Rendon sent a laser shot down the third base line off Diamondbacks reliever Evan Marshall into right field to make it a 3-2 ballgame. “[Rendon’s] been incredible all year,” he said of his teammate. “He’s a great hitter, one of the best out there right now, and sitting on third you kind of know he’s going to come through with it.”
Trust, grind, and heart are words the Nats and Manager Matt Williams have used this season to describe the team assembled in the clubhouse in 2014 and Wednesday night’s game was no exception. When it comes to the recent stretch of success found in a grand fashion – especially with all the walk-offs as of late – the Nats haven’t lost their focus and realize that these close games just mean they have to keep at it and win in order to fend off the Braves and Marlins.
What helped the Nats to start on Wednesday was the seven inning, five-hit shutout tossed by Roark who walked one batter while striking out two on 99 pitches and 63 strikes. “We’ve got a lot of heart, we don’t quit. We play hard until the game’s over. That’s what’s great about this team, [and why] it’s so much fun to be on this team. Nobody ever gives up. We always have a chance to win,” Roark said.
“We’ve kept battling and believe in each other,” third baseman Kevin Frandsen said as he echoed Roark’s sentiments after the game. Clippard might have blown the save and allowed for Arizona to tie it up in the eighth but, “[Clippard’s] been so awesome for us this year and, oh well, he gave up a homerun, who cares,” Frandsen said. “[Clippard’s] going to be in there tomorrow and the next day.”
Frandsen’s point in defense of Clippard’s blown save was that, “We continue to grind and if they tie up the game, we don’t give in.” That sounds about right given the past few days as an example.
Washington scored early by tacking on a run in the second inning. Shortstop Ian Desmond drew a one-out walk off Arizona starter Trevor Cahill. Desmond then advanced to second on a fielder’s choice before stealing third and heading home on a single hit by Frandsen. Another run came in the sixth inning when second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera and outfielder Jayson Werth hit back-to-back doubles off Cahill, sending Cabrera home; Diamondbacks 0, Nats 2.
Clippard struggle during his 1/3 of an inning appearance in the eighth when he gave up a two-run homerun hit by outfielder Ender Inciarte that sailed straight into the Nats’ bullpen but a strong one-two-three ninth inning appearance from closer Rafael Soriano plus some walk-off heroics demonstrated by the rally Harper, Frandsen, and Rendon generated left the Nats on the winning side to end it; Diamondbacks 2, Nats 3.