The story going into Friday night’s ball game was that starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper would be in the lineup, at home, together for the first time in club history. It makes for a romanticized story of circumstance, but the Washington Nationals took it upon themselves as a 25-man roster to liven up the premeditated story.
As the final position player on the bench in the eleventh inning of an electric game, Wilson Ramos led the Nats to an exciting 4-3 victory over their division rival Philadelphia Phillies with a walk-off single. To put it lightly, this was one hell of a game.
This was Strasburg’s first time facing the Phillies at home and the crowd of 34,377 saw a quality start from him. He pitched six innings giving up three hits, three runs, walking one, and striking out four over 76 pitches (52 for strikes).
Philadelphia couldn’t manage a hit off of Strasburg until the fourth inning when outfielder Hunter Pence put the Phillies up 2-0 with a home run to left-center on the first pitch. Pence is the sixth player to ever hit a homerun off of Strasburg, who had gone 66 innings without anyone hitting a bomb off of him. The last player to hit a homerun before Pence was Adam LaRoche on August 15, 2010. My oh my, how time flies.
Washington’s biggest struggle of the night is one that’s haunted them all too often in the club’s short existence – they could hit the ball but they couldn’t score the runs. The Nats left fourteen men on base compared to the Phillies five stranded runners. The upside is that the offense was aggressive, which is something Manager Davey Johnson noted as a success on his team’s part that night.
Seeing as they won the game (eventually), the Nats did manage to score enough to scrape by. Strasburg tried to help himself out in the second inning by hitting a double. The attempt didn’t yield any runs, but it certainly didn’t hurt to get on-base. First baseman Chad Tracy scored the first run of the night for the Nats with a leadoff home run to right field on a 1-2 pitch off Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, putting the Nats within one run of the Phillies.
Philadelphia answered back, though, and catcher Carlos Ruiz hit a home run off of Strasburg as well to put the Phillies up 3-1 in the fifth inning.
Washington battled back in the eighth to keep the night alive. Tracy sparked the offense again with a leadoff single off Phillies reliever Chad Qualls. Second baseman Danny Espinosa put down a sacrifice bunt to move Tracy to second followed by an intentional walk thrown by Qualls to outfielder Rick Ankiel. Catcher Jesus Flores hit an RBI double to tie up the game with proceeded to be a dual until the eleventh inning when Ramos came up big off the bench.