In a game that was lined up to be a pitching duel between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks, this game was anything but. The starting pitcher rotations brought a match-up between perennial Cy Young Award contender, Max Scherzer and up-and-coming Luke Weaver. The expectation was a low-scoring affair filled with many strikeouts. Instead, what we got was a game in which both starters were drummed out of the game before recording an out in the fifth inning.
Despite not allowing a run in the first, Luke Weaver’s opening frame was hardly a good one. The Nationals went single, GIDP, single, walk, fly out to deep left. Sequencing, more than anything else aided Weaver’s escape. This trend continued into the second inning where, sequencing still helped him, but not enough to keep the Nationals off the board.
Victor Robles started the second by flying out to medium center on the first pitch. Howie Kendrick worked a walk out of Weaver and was followed by Yan Gomes who struck out swinging. That brought up Max Scherzer. The Nationals’ righty helped his own cause slapping a single, moving Kendrick to second. Adam Eaton followed with a single to center of his own. Kendrick beat the throw home by Ketel Marte, giving the Nationals the lead. Juan Soto then flew out to deep left.
On the other side of things, Scherzer managed a strikeout in each of the first two frames. He also allowed a double in each of the first two innings. While he was not suffering from a million little cuts like Weaver was, he was getting hit hard when there was contact. This finally came to a head in the third inning.
Luke Weaver was the first batter for the Diamondbacks in the third. He gave the Diamondbacks their third hit of the day, another double. David Peralta gave one a ride to center field. However, the Nationals were playing Peralta deep, so Weaver was unable to advance on the play. That brought up Ildemaro Vargas. Vargas got in on the doubles parade, scoring Weaver. Marte then singled to right center, putting runners on the corners. This was the fifth hit surrendered by Scherzer and the first to not go for extra bases. Eduardo Escobat brought Vargas home with a ground shot to the hole at short. Trea Turner made a great diving stop on the grass burner with the 103.8 mph exit velocity and managed to get Escobar at first. Ketel Marte took second on the play. One pitch later, Christian Walker took Scherzer deep, putting the ball into the seats in left field. Scherzer then struck out the struggling Kole Calhoun on three pitches. The Diamondbacks exited the inning up by three.
The Nationals’ fourth inning brought another single and another base on balls. However, Weaver once again escaped without allowing a run. The fourth inning is also where Scherzer got mad. The Diamondbacks struck out looking, swinging, and swinging.
That brought the game to the fateful fifth inning. To this point, Weaver had repeatedly played with fire without truly getting burned. The first pitch of the fifth inning went for a 100 mph single off the bat of pinch-hitter, Starlin Castro right over the head of Escobar at third. Adam Eaton followed suit, dropping a single into shallow left center just out of the reach of a wide-ranging Nick Ahmed. With two on and nobody out, Trea Turner tied the game on a 2-2 count with a 105 mph line drive home run to left. Weaver then walked Juan Soto on four pitches nowhere near the zone. The next pitch from Weaver then found too much of the zone. Eric Thames took the fat pitch over the middle of the plate and crushed it for a two-run home run. Vurtual Lovullo had finally seen enough. He called On Junior Guerra to come in and restore some semblance of order. The righty did just that, striking out two and getting a weak fly out.
Now up two, the Nationals looked to their bullpen to secure the win for five innings. Sterling Sharp seemed to think the best way to go about that was to sandwich a single between a pair of walks. Virtual Dave Martinez promptly pulled Sharp from the game and brought in Roenis Elias to face Eduardo Escobar. Escobar put a good swing on an 0-1 pitch from Elias, hitting a 103.8 mph line drive to center. It looked like Escobar had enough on the fly, but Victor Robles took a good route and managed to get himself behind the play. Firing home right out of the catch, he pegged Vargas out at home in a close play on the tag-up attempt. The threat was killed fully when Walker flew out to left.
It was three up, three down for the Nationals in the sixth. Guerra sandwiched a single off the bat of Pablo Sandoval between a strikeout of Yan Gomes and a GIDP by Adam Eaton. In the bottom half of the inning, Kole Calhoun started things off reaching on an error by the catcher when Gomes made a poor throw to first. A single by Carson Kelly put runners on the corners. Nick Ahmed then hit a sac fly to deep center, scoring Calhoun without a throw. Jake Lamb entered the game as a pinch-hitter and slapped a single into right, chasing James Bourque from the game. Sam Coonrod came in and slammed the door, on the scoring threat.
Andrew Chafin was nails for two innings, steiking out two without allowing a Washington base runner. By contrast, the Diamondbacks had two singles and a walk in the seventh, but still could not manage to push the tying run across. In the eighth, they managed to draw another walk, but were unable to do anything once Sean Doolittle came in to shut them down.
Still down one run, the Diamondbacks turned the ball over to Héctor Rondón for the ninth inning, hoping to keep the game in striking distance. Rondón allowed a double to the first batter he faced, Yan Gomes. Gomes advanced to third on a groundout to the right side by pinch-hitter Yadiel Hernandez. Gomes came home to score when Adam Eaton lined a hard single to right. The damage already done, Rondón managed to induce a GIDP off the bat of Turner.
The Nationals brought Will Harris in to close the game. His first batter faced was Marte. Marte made Harris work before he finally lined a hit into the gap which he then legged out for a lead-off triple. Gomes then failed to smother a Harris curve ball, resulting in a passed ball that allowed Marte to score. Four pitches later, Escobar drew a walk. Christian Walker brought an end to Harris’ day when he walked on seven pitches. Virtual Dave Martinez then entrusted the game to Wander Suero. His first batter was Calhoun. Calhoun took the Suero’s second pitch with him down the first base line. Suero made a strong defensive play and retired Calhoun at first, with Escobar and Walker both moving up into scoring position. Carson Kelly tied the game when he lined a 2-2 pitch past Turner into left. Walker took third on the play. This brought up Nick Ahmed. After falling behind Ahmed 2-0, Suero was forced to bring the ball a bit more over the plate. Ahmed was ready and shot a single through the 5.5 hole, scoring Walker and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in walk-off style.
Final Score: WAS 7 - AZ 8
The player of the game was Ketel Marte who had went 4-for-4 with a walk. The center fielder ended the day a home run short of hitting for the cycle. His triple to lead off the ninth was a big part of why the Diamondbacks were able to come from behind to win this one.
The same two teams are at it again tomorrow. The expected match-up is Stephen Strasburg versus Mike Leake.
The Diamondbacks are now 24-20 on the season and are tied for second place in the NL West with the San Francisco Giants.