The prohibitive World Series favorite Washington Nationals (1-4) came into Sunday night’s contest vs. the prospective basement dweller Philadelphia Phillies (3-2) needing a win after a string of poor results. Just 1-3 through the first four games of the season and having only scored seven runs, the Nationals turned to their ostensible fifth pitcher Doug Fister in an attempt to break their luck.
The oft-injured Nationals catcher and main piece in the Matt Capps trade came into Saturday’s matchup with only two hits through three games on the season, mostly hitting weak ground balls to middle infielders. Hitting in the 5-hole, Wilson Ramos was expected to act as almost a second cleanup hitter, knocking in runners almost at will. But things have not progressed as planned for him thus far. Fortunes might have changed, however, when in the fourth inning Ramos got a hold of an outside pitch and muscled it out to right field for a solo shot. The home run gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Ramos’ offensive performance will be a key component to the Nats surviving the first few weeks of the season sans Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, and Denard Span.
Coming out of spring training, most fans expected Danny Espinosa to cover the extra infield position abandoned by the disabled Rendon, though it seems the organization had other ideas. Non-roster invitee Dan Uggla, owed $12.7 million from the Braves, has taken the first four games at 2B, leaving the superior defender in Espinosa on the bench. A big believer in bench depth, manager Matt Williams decided that tonight would be a good night to have a few of his bench players get some time, giving Espinosa a chance to shine against a lefty. This move would pay off in spades in the bottom of the first, as Ryan Howard hit a rocket shot into the right field corner where new RF Bryce Harper fielded the ball and hit the cutoff man (!!!) in Espinosa who threw an absolute bullet to Ramos, nailing Chase Utley at home plate for the last out in the inning – a throw Uggla could only dream of making. By finally playing the best defense, Williams was able to prevent the Phillies offense from taking an early lead against the beleaguered Nationals.
Desmond’s Woes Continue
April struggler Ian Desmond did his best NFL wide receiver impression in the fifth inning when he decided to look towards first base before actually catching the ball, earning his fourth error through the Nats first error games. Traditionally a slow starter, Desmond has been guilty of costing the Nationals at least one game early in 2015 with several errors consecutively against the Mets. Tonight, Desmond missed an easy double play early on in addition to hesitating to take control on a ground ball up the middle in the eighth leading to the tying run scoring. So far Desmond has not shown himself as worthy of the mega-millions deal he hopes to earn as a free agent after this season.
This is a thing that happened.
As the game progressed, Blake Treinen couldn’t overcome a few defensive lapses and the Phillies were able to tie the game in the eighth, only to steal a win in the 10th off of Tanner Roark on a double down the line by Odubel Herrera dropping the Nationals to 1-4 in 2015. The Nationals will turn to $210-million superstar Max Scherzer in attempt to avoid the sweep tomorrow.