The Nats’ performance in game two didn’t change much from game one, but the Cardinals’ certainly did. St. Louis walked away with a 12-4 massacring of the Nats in a game where runs were given up by four of the seven Nats pitchers. Two of those three guys, Christian Garcia and Ryan Mattheus, are among the least experienced pitchers on the Nats’ staff. Tom Gorzelanny was the third guy, and while he didn’t give up an earned run, he did allow a hit that charged a run to Sean Burnett.
It was an all around ugly game for the Nats, but luckily, they have time to bounce back for three consecutive games at Nationals Park. None the less, here are the three key moves that ensure the Nats their shellacking.
3. Jon Jay’s wall-banging catch
The Nats had the game within four runs in the sixth inning, and Danny Espinosa went first pitch swinging against new pitcher Joe Kelly to start the inning. He belted the ball to deep center field, and it looked like a sure double, possibly even a triple. But Jon Jay, the Cardinals’ speedy center fielder, tracked the ball down while plowing into the center field wall.
If Jay doesn’t get to that wall, it could have changed the game with four full innings left. It was a pivotal play despite the Cards already leading 7-3.
2. Carlos Beltran’s two-home run day
Some thought Beltran’s career was nearing its end with the New York Mets around the albatross of his massive contract. His last two seasons in St. Louis has shown he has something left in the tank, and his two home runs in game two were mammoth shots.
The first was 414 feet and the second was 416 feet, according to ESPN Home Run Tracker. The first homer was stopped by the facing of the third deck, though. They both would’ve gone a long, long way had they not been stopped by the seats.
1. Seven shutdown innings from the Cardinals’ bullpen
Initially, it seemed that Jaime Garcia was pulled in the second inning by Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheney as a shrewd and gutsy move so they could try and put the Nats away early. It worked pretty well, as the pinch hitter, Skip Schumaker, grounded out but drove a run in, and then Jon Jay knocked one in, too. (Here’s video of the call to replace Garcia.)
It turns out, though, that Garcia was pulled because of a shoulder injury, and he had an MRI on it after the game. Still, the Cardinals bullpen made it through seven innings and only allowed the Nats to tack on three more runs. It was yeoman’s work for the group for the five relievers that helped the Cardinals tie the series at one game a piece.
There’s some concern about the lackluster starting pitching from the Nats early this postseason. The starters are the main reason the Nats are where they are right now, and if they’re not able to produce, it’s hard to see how they can advance past the Division Series. It will be up to Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler to get things back on track in games three and four, respectively. Here’s hoping for some more optimistic keys in the games to come.