Game #92 Recap: Calamity at Citizens Bank

Despite the ineptitude of the Phillies, the Nats failed tocapitalize on a number of big mistakes to drop the game, and the series, to the Phillies this evening losing by a final score of 3-1. With the loss, the Nats move to 47-45, and dropped another game to the Braves who successfully defeated the Reds, taking them to 6 back in the division with three games remaining before the all-star break.

The game started inauspiciously for the Nats in the first inning. After an Ian Desmond first pitch single, Bryce Harper took his place on a fielder’s choice with two outs. After a stolen base by Harper and a Zimmerman walk, the table was set for Jayson Werth. He ripped a single to left field, and Harper was sent home by third base coach Trent Jewitt. A solid throw by Domonic Brown beat Harper, but replay showed Harper clearly beat the tag from Carlos Ruiz, yet he was called out at home, thus ending the inning. From there, the Nationals only seriously threatened Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick one another time in the 6th inning, when Bryce Harper hit a stand up triple and scored off a Ryan Zimmerman sacrifice fly. Despite hitting four home runs off one of the best pitchers in the planet in Cliff Lee the night before, the Nationals were bemused by Kendrick. Kendrick’s final line: 7IP, 5H, 1BB, 2KK’s on 106 pitches. A pretty solid start from the backend of the Phillies rotation.

And that’s not including the fact that Kendrick had a horror show behind him, mainly thanks to Chase Utley. Utley was horrific on defense, accounting for three of the Phillies four errors on the day. In the first at bat of the game, Utley collided with first basemen Darren Ruf on a Denard Span routine pop up in foul territory. In the fourth, Utley bobbled an Adam LaRoche grounder, then completely booted the throw to first, accounting for two errors on one play. In the 5th, a grounder to third by Kurt Suzuki was poorly thrown to first by Michael Young, resulting in the fourth error of the game. Unfortunately, the Nationals couldn’t take advantage of any of these calamitous situations. After the blown call in the 1st, Anthony Rendon failed to take advantage of the Chase Utley mistake by flying out to Delmon Young, and in the 5th, a Jordan Zimmermann sacrifice bunt resulted in Kurt Suzuki getting thrown out at third, a fundamental play that can’t happen at this level.

There were some other Nationals mistakes that took place in this game, and a lot of them surrounded Denard Span, who has been woefully terrible this entire series despite sitting against Cole Hamels on Tuesday. Not only did he fail to get a hit in the series, but he hit into two different double plays on the evening, the first of which was an inexcusable display of effort after he failed to run on a bunt attempt that hit the plate, making it fair. He thought it was foul and didn’t run, killing a potentially dangerous inning considering Jordan Zimmermann had reached on base with no outs. He also grounded into a double play in the 5th, and he failed to catch a Kevin Frandsen liner that was more than gettable, and ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

As for the Phillies, credit to them for taking advantage of what was given to them. In the 5th, Carlos Ruiz hit an infield single and was advanced properly to second by Kyle Kendrick. With two outs, red hot Ben Revere stepped into the batter’s box and accomplished what the Nationals could not: Get a hit with a runner on base and two outs. His hit scored Ruiz, and opened the scoring in the ballgame. The Phillies added an insurance run in the 8th when Chase Utley scorched a leadoff double off Ian Krol, advanced to third on a Dominic Brown fly out, and scored after Drew Storen entered the game and gave up a Michael Young grounder that Anthony Rendon couldn’t field in time to get the runner at home. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless 9th to preserve the 3-1 lead for the Phillies.

The Nationals will hopefully rebound from losing three of four to the Phillies by taking on the woeful Marlins tomorrow in Miami. Stephen Strasburg (5-6, 2.45 ERA) will take the hill against up and comer Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.55 ERA).

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