By Michael Marzzacco
After the Nats lost Stephen Strasburg to another injury, this time the elbow, the ballclub rallied and got a walk-off single from Wilson Ramos to reduce their magic number to 15.
First pitch was delayed for an hour due to the rain. When the game got underway Strasburg took the hill with another attempt at win #16. Unfortunately his start was short lived.
Prior to the incident, Jayson Werth singled home Wilmer Difo in the first inning to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Back to Strasburg, he looked impressive in his brief outing with four strikeouts but in the third inning a nightmare for Nats fans happened.
In his first appearance since serving on the 15-day DL, Strasburg went just 2 1/3 innings. After his fourth and what would be his final strikeout of the night, getting Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz to strikeout, Strasburg looked to be in pain. Pitching coach Mike Maddux, head trainer Paul Lessard, and manager Dusty Baker came out to the mound to check on him. Then Strasburg exited the game. In the pitch prior to the strikeout, Strasburg threw a changeup that flew over catcher Wilson Ramos’ glove and you could tell something wasn’t right by the look on Strasburg’s face. He will get an MRI on his elbow and there’s talks already that he could be out for the season.
After Strasburg left, Sean Burnett came in. Burnett gave up a run on an RBI double by Adonis Garcia. Lucas Giolito came in the next inning. He gave up two runs, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. The Braves took the lead in the sixth with an RBI force out at second on a ball hit by Tyler Flowers. Their lead went up to 3-1 in the seventh as Braves top prospect Dansby Swanson homered for the second straight game.
The Nationals rallied in the bottom of the seventh. Stephen Drew led off with a walk. Trea Turner followed with a single. With runners on first and second, Werth singled to load the bases for Daniel Murphy. Murphy singled home Drew and Turner with a base hit into left field.
This game would go to extra innings. The Braves took the lead with an RBI single by Jace Peterson. The Nats answered in the bottom frame to extend the game. Danny Espinosa and Chris Heisey both got on with singles and Anthony Rendon drove home Espinosa with a soft ground ball to third baseman Adonis Garcia. Rendon used his speed to get to first and the baseball was a slow roller that allowed Espinosa to cross the plate.
The Nats used a total of 10 pitchers. The last pitcher they used, Mat Latos would eventually get the win. He only faced one batter but he struck that batter out to end the top of the 11th.
The Nats won it in the bottom frame thanks to “The Buffalo”. First Werth led off with a walk. Murphy followed with a double. With runners on first and third, Braves reliever Jed Bradley intentionally walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Ramos ended it with a line-drive single into left-center and Werth crossed the plate as the Nats won 5-4 to sweep the Braves.
The Nationals welcome the Phillies this weekend for a four game series in DC. The first game takes place tonight at 7:05. Alec Asher will go for the Phillies while the Nats send A.J. Cole (1-1, 3.86 ERA) to the mound.