Emotions during an elimination playoff game are decidedly different than any other game. Nerves are running high, and any time that someone isn’t able to come up with a key hit, it feels like the end of the world. That seems especially true when the team you’re pulling for has scored only three runs in their first 27 innings of baseball, including in one game that went 18 preposterous innings.
But after a brutal stretch of offense for the Washington Nationals, they were able to get on the board in the series.
Madison Bumgarner’s Error – This was the obvious difference maker. The Nats offense was going so poorly, that Wilson Ramos, yes Wilson Ramos, tried a sacrifice bunt in the top of the seventh. Buster Posey admits he yelled for Bumgarner to throw to third, which was a huge, nay, gargantuan, mistake. Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper scored after the ball went well into foul ground in left field, and gave the Nats a 2-0 lead.
The Fister Effect – Doug Fister has been insanely good all season, and when the Nats needed him the most, he delivered in the best way possible. He threw seven scoreless innings and handed the game to his bullpen with a lead.
Bryce’s Bomb – Bryce Harper is a home run hitter, especially in the playoffs. He’s now jacked three home runs in eight playoff games, and his one at AT&T Park in Game Three was preposterous. It came close to ending up in McCovey Cove, and gave the Nats some cushion in the ninth inning.
Storen Settles – It’s been a rough go at the playoffs for Drew Storen in his previous two games. Between the 2012 Game Five appearance and the 2014 Game Two appearance, he really needed a win. In NLDS Game Three this October, he got his win. Yes, he gave up a couple of hits, one of which was hard-hit by Hunter Pence, but he settled in and owned the rest of the game. Also, his slider is still ridiculous and totally confounded Brandon Belt, the Giants’ hero in Game Two. This was a big win for Storen, who will be key to the Nats’ success if they’re going to keep moving forward this October.
Neither team has done much at all at the plate all series. After the Nats’ 4-1 victory, they actually lead in runs scored during the series with a 7-6 margin, despite losing the first two games of the series. It took three games, which was actually four games worth of innings, for both teams to score as many runs as the Tigers and Orioles scored in Game Two of the ALDS. A pitching advantage certainly plays into the Nationals’ hands going forward, especially after they took out Bumgarner successfully on Monday.
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