The second game of tonight’s doubleheader between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers shows exactly why you should never leave a game early and why the Nats are in the position to clinch a playoff birth any day now. It was a rough start and almost an outstanding finish at Nats Park with a crowd that got quite a show in the late innings by the Nats offense.
The nightcap looked all but over until the eighth inning, when the Nats finally got to the Josh Beckett, who looked great through seven innings. They put a six-spot up in the inning against Beckett and two Dodgers relievers on their way to tying the game. Michael Morse started things off with a home run, followed by an Ian Desmond single and a Steve Lombardozzi two-run shot. Corey Brown reached on a rare Adrian Gonzalez error and took second. He later scored on a Bryce Harper single. Finally, Morse tied it up with a single, scoring Mark DeRosa and Harper.
The course of the game was changed on a controversial call in the fourth inning, when the umps said that Matt Kemp had scored when clearly the third out was completed by Ryan Zimmerman prior to him getting home. It turned out to be a game changing call that caused the Nats to fall short in their comeback.
For the rest of the game, John Lannan looked nothing like he did in his previous MLB starts this year, and he put them in the hole in the first place, as he gave up six runs on eight hits in just 3.2 innings in game two. He was pulled in favor of Chien-Ming Wang, which is never a good thing for the Nats.
Wang looked rough at the start of his outing, about has bad as he did prior to his extended stint on the disabled list and during his rehab in the minors. The Dodgers made solid contact on just about everything they saw from him early, but he settled down and actually put together an impressive two and one-third innings.
I’d by no means say Wang is fixed or that his career will turn around, though. The contact they made against him was pretty solid, and without some nice plays by Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, we’d be singing a different tune about the outing.
Zach Duke put together a nice outing in two innings of long relief, too. He gave up just one hit and struck out a batter. At the time, it looked like he was just mopping up a loss, but his outing allowed the Nats to stay in the game to make their eighth inning comeback.
It was Tyler Clippard, who pitched in both games of the doubleheader, who ended up losing the game for the Nats, though. He got Matt Kemp to an 0-2 count in the ninth and threw a fastball perfectly down the middle of the plate. Last year’s runner up NL MVP wasn’t going to miss it, and he put it into the Red Porch, giving the Dodgers a 7-6 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Nats will have to wait at least another day before they clinch their first postseason appearance since their return to DC in 2005, but they showed their resilience in a comeback against a playoff contending baseball team. There are still plenty of chances to clinch in their remaining 14 games, and their magic number to clinch the division is nine after winning the first game of the doubleheader.