Before the start of the seventh inning, with the Nationals already leading 3-0, many Nats fans wondered how Dusty Baker would manage his pitching staff. Max Scherzer was up to 95 pitches through 6 innings, and considering the struggles of the bullpen this season, leaving Scherzer out for another inning maybe was not the worst possible decision.

Before the decision to pull Max, Ryan Raburn led off the inning with a solo shot the left field off of a badly hanging curveball. Adrian Sanchez would line out to left as the pinch hitter, setting the stage for one of the best innings of the season. Brian Goodwin walked, Stephen Drew moved him to third on a single, and Bryce Harper knocked Goodwin home on an RBI single on a 3-0 pitch, stretching the National lead to 5-0. Ryan Zimmerman worked a walk, and Daniel “Hits” Murphy lived up to his namesake with an RBI base knock the other way, making it 6-0 Nats. Up would come Anthony Rendon.

6-0 is a decent lead really for any major league, and most minor league ballclubs, but again, considering how badly this bullpen has struggled, it seems that no lead is safe.  Rendon had already homered once in this game, a two-run shot in the top of the fourth. Rendon, who foolishly was not named an all-star this season, seems as though he has something to prove from that. As of the top of the seventh, Rendon had safely reached base in 10 of a possible 12 opportunities.  Rendon took a pitch up in the zone out to deep left-center and over the wall for a grand slam, pushing the Nationals’ lead to 10-0, and effectively putting the game out of reach.  A 10-run lead, even with this bullpen, is a solid-enough cushion to ensure the Nats at the very least a split of this 4-game set, or so we thought…

Overshadowed by this offensive outburst was Max Scherzer, who once again was outstanding in the 6 innings he threw. Despite a season-high 4 walks, Scherzer recorded 10 strikeouts, allowing no runs on 95 pitches.  Scherzer has been absolutely masterful this season, and it would be a genuine shock if he did not pick up another Cy Young award.

Enny Romero worked a scoreless seventh inning.  Austin Adams would make his major league debut, and struggled immediately out of the gate, loading the bases without recording an out, then walking in a run.  The Reds tacked on another run against Adams on an RBI single, still with no outs, and still with the bases loaded.  His day ended with him not recording an out and allowing two runs, meaning his ERA is currently infinity.  Oliver Perez worked out of the bases loaded no out jam without allowing a run in the 8th inning.

The ninth inning was a complete and utter tire fire. I will not take the time to recap it, as if I did, there would be a string of four letter words that are not suitable for children. This must be fixed. Now. The fact that this was at one point a 10-0 game and we won 10-7 is unacceptable. Even worse, this isn’t the first time it’s happened either (Oakland a few weeks back). If the Lerner family were serious about winning, they’d allow Mike Rizzo to do his job and find bullpen help.

The Nationals will look to win this series tomorrow afternoon.  Tanner Roark looks to bust out of his recent struggles against Homer Bailey for the Reds. First pitch slated for 1:10 Eastern.

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