The Washington Nationals’ (19-17) 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics (22-15) was almost a lot of things.
It was almost Tanner Roark’s third win of the year after a lights-out performance. It was almost Rafael Soriano’s eighth save and 14th scoreless inning of the season. It was almost a win for the Nationals and a chance for them to even the series against a competitive American League team.
Instead, Roark’s work was wasted with a no decision, Soriano blew his first save of the year and the Nationals conceded the series, all in the last inning and a half of the ten-inning game.
Roark was solid from the start for the Nationals. His outing lasted seven and two-thirds innings, and he allowed only two hits and one run, on a home run to John Jaso in the fourth inning. He walked none and struck out five.
Roark’s performance was a fantastic comeback from his last outing when he gave up seven runs in just four innings, however the effort was to no avail.
Roark was lifted in the eighth inning with a man on third and two outs in favor of Tyler Clippard, who induced the out on two pitches. The Nats went down in order in the top of the ninth, and with three outs separating them from a win, Soriano entered the game.
Soriano gave up three consecutive hits before recording an out, allowing the A’s to tie the game at three runs apiece and send the game, which had been on pace to finish in just over two hours, to extras.
The strangest play of the game happened in the bottom of the ninth, when Soriano cut off a strong throw from left fielder Zach Walters in front of the plate, allowing the tying run to score. Frustration and disbelief showed on catcher Wilson Ramos’ face, as had the ball reached him he would have had a shot at tagging the runner out.
The Nats were again set down in order in the top of the 10th, and with two outs in the bottom of the inning Drew Storen allowed Jaso to be the hero of the game by surrendering a two-run homer to give Oakland the walk-off win.
It was a wild end to a game the Nationals had controlled from the third inning, when they strung together four consecutive hits to build a three-run lead off Oakland starter Sonny Gray, who entered the day with a 1.91 ERA. Danny Espinosa homered for the fifth time, and Walters singled for his first non-homer big league hit.
It looked like the three runs would be all the Nats would need to snag the win, but they still failed to bring home the four runners who reached base in the seven innings after the third. Without a big cushion, the Nats ultimately surrendered the lead, and the series, to the Athletics as they continue to search for positive consistency in their play.