This win, a Washington Nationals 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in ten innings, was even more improbable than Friday’s walk-off 8-4 bloodletting. With Philadelphia leading in the bottom of the ninth and with two outs and two strikes on Ian Desmond (and the Philadelphia buses starting their engines in the parking lots), the Nationals’ young shortstop put an Antonio Bastardo offering into the second row in left field to tie the game.
The Desmond home run gave the Nationals a reprieve from what seemed an almost certain loss. The Nationals took advantage of the extra inning — loading the bases in the 10th on a Ryan Zimmerman double, an intentional walk to Michael Morse, and a Jayson Werth single. After Danny Espinosa struck out, Phillies’ reliever Brad Lidge hit Jonny Gomes. Lidge’s mistake gave the Nationals an unusual HBP walk-off — and a 2 of 3 series victory.
The stunning Nationals’ win overawed the solid pitching of starter Chien-Ming Wang (five hits and three earned in 5.2 innings), the toughness of the Nats’ bullpen (one earned run in 4.1), and the solid performances of the up-the-middle combination of Ian Desmond (2-5 with an RBI) and Danny Espinosa (3-5, two RBIs and a home run — his 18th). “Those two guys up the middle are very talented, and unfortunately I think a lot of people forget how young they are sometimes,” Ryan Zimmerman said following the victory. “It’s not easy to learn at this level, but they’re doing a great job with it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Phillies’ bloggers are not taking this well. After making an insultingly stupid joke about Chien-Ming Wang prior to the game, The Good Phight told his readers that today’s game shows that baseball isn’t football. Brilliant . . . Phillies Nation said they were “a little shocked” by the loss, then crowed that “Phillies Nation” won in Washington because of the thousands of Phillies’ fans at Nationals Park . . .
Oddly, the other Phillies’ blogs have not yet weighed in. Perhaps they’re still trying to decide what cute scatological jokes they can make about the game. You would think that after last year’s frolics (in which San Francisco breezed into Philly and took four of six games), that Phillies’ Phans would have learned that they can’t take anything for granted. We’ll get back to them when the Brewers face off against the Tigers in the World Series . . .
Thankfully, cooler heads dominated the Phillies’ clubhouse after the loss. “Like I always tell you, over a 162 game schedule, you are going to give it up now and then,” Phillies’ skipper Charlie Manuel said. “You don’t want to see it. But at the same time, it’s part of it.” True enough — but this weekend, at least, the Nationals were the better team: in three games, they “gave it up” only once . . .