Jayson Werth capped a 13-pitch 9th inning at bat by putting a 3-2 Lance Lynn offering into the left field bullpen, sending the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on Thursday night. “Three-two heater. He beat me,” Lynn said of the Werth at bat.
Werth’s crowd roaring blast ensured that the Nationals will play a final elimination game against the Redbirds on Friday to decide who will meet the San Francisco Giants for the National League Pennant. The Giants eliminated the Cincinnati Reds earlier on Thursday in a stunning 6-4 victory, after being down two games to none in that series.
In a season of exciting games, this was by far the most exciting, with the sold out crowd standing for every pitch from the 7th inning on. “That’s the way that game should have ended — Jayson Werth hitting a home run,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said of the epic walk off home run. “He has not hit that many this year. What was it, a 13-pitch at-bat, something like that? It was unbelievable.”
Werth’s ninth inning home run was set up by Washington’s outstanding pitching: six innings of three hit baseball from starter Ross Detwiler, followed by a superb relief effort from a trio of Nats’ relievers. Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen combined to strike out eight Redbirds in a row, holding St. Louis hitless in three complete innnings.
Following the game, closer Drew Storen paid tribute to the contribution that Werth has made to the club. “Last year didn’t go as well as he wanted, but what I think he did in the clubhouse from Day 1, he changed the culture,” he said. “He has been a huge part of the team’s success . . . I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a great teammate and a great leader.”
Credit the Cardinals for crediting Werth. Ninth inning reliever Lance Lynn battled the savvy veteran through 12 pitches, strike after strike, but then laid the thirteenth in over the plate. “He battled that whole at-bat, and I was making good pitches, making my pitches, and you know, he won,” Lynn said. “It was just a matter of time. I was challenging him, and he was up for it.”
Werth understood the importance of the moment, both for him and for the franchise. “You know when I came here last year this place was empty,” he told reporter Tim Kurkjian after the win, “and now one year later this place is packed and it’s awesome. We have great fans, and it’s a great place to play ball.”
The Nationals will face off against the Cardinals on Friday night at Nationals Park in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS. Lefty ace Gio Gonzalez will start for the Nationals, with Adam Wainwright taking the mound for the Cardinals.
Photo Credits: AP Photo/Alex Brandon