Quick Links

Nats topple Phillies in extras

754218.png

Nats topple Phillies in extras

Nationals 4, Phillies 3 11 innings

Game in a nutshell: In an emotionally charged ballpark tilted more in the Nationals' favor than usual when these two rivals meet, Stephen Strasburg got off to a dominant start but then did the unthinkable and served up home runs to both Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz. Strasburg's teammates picked him, pushing across a run in the sixth and another in the eighth. But countless squandered opportunities (and some questionable umpiring) prevented them from taking the lead and sent this one to extra innings. Finally, Wilson Ramos (the last man off the bench) lined a bases-loaded single over shortstop Jimmy Rollins' head, bringing Steve Lombardozzi home and sending the crowd into pandemonium.

Hitting lowlight: It's not that the Nationals didn't put men on base. They racked up 13 hits, walked seven times and had one batter hit by pitch. But they simply could not come through in clutch situations ... until the 11th. The worst offense came in the bottom of the eighth, when they stranded the bases loaded with one out. Ian Desmond swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a fielder's choice (though replays showed Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz's foot wasn't touching the plate as Rick Ankiel slid across). Lombardozzi then grounded out, also on the first pitch he saw. Poor approaches there for both guys in a situation that demanded patience and pitch selection.
Pitching lowlight: Strasburg was lights-out for three innings, allowing only one batter to reach base (on an error). Then after doubling and having to run the bases, he began to labor. Five Phillies hitters from the fourth through the sixth innings drilled flyballs, most of them deep, two of them clearing the fence. It was by no means a terrible outing for Strasburg (who still got credit for a quality start). But by his lofty standards, it was not up to par.

Key stat: Prior to tonight, Strasburg had given up only one home run to a right-handed batter in his big-league career (Dan Uggla, Aug. 10, 2010). Then he gave up homers to two right-handed Phillies in a span of four batters (Pence and Ruiz).
Up next: In what is expected to be the best-drawing game of the weekend, Gio Gonzalez takes on Vance Worley at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.

Quick Links

Dusty Baker on Nats clinching 2016 NL East title: 'I love this team'

Dusty Baker on Nats clinching 2016 NL East title: 'I love this team'

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jayson Werth's wide grin belied the fact that the Washington Nationals right fielder is an old hand at clubhouse celebrations, having played on eight division-winning teams during his 14-year big league career.

Werth's latest crown came Saturday night when the Nationals clinched their third National League East title in five years, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 behind 5 1/3 scoreless innings from rookie reliever Reynaldo Lopez.

"It's never gets old," Werth said. "Never."

Stephen Drew's two-run single capped a three-run first inning for the Nationals, who return to the postseason after a one-year absence. Their win ensured a playoff berth, and they won the division about 20 minutes later when the second-place New York Mets lost to Philadelphia.

"It's such a hard thing to accomplish," Werth said. "You spent six months trying to do it. It's why you go to spring training early, so you can do everything possible to put yourself in positon to win the division."

The Nationals won the division in Dusty Baker's first season as manager. He replaced Matt Williams, who fired following a 2015 season that began with high hopes of Washington reaching the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

Baker had been out of the game for two years after being fired by the Cincinnati Reds following the 2013 season, four days after they lost to the Pirates in the NL wild card.

"That's what I came here for," Baker said, standing in a corner of the clubhouse and watching his players celebrate. "I'm telling you -- let these young men have a great time tonight, back to work tomorrow. First step in a four-step process. This step is the hardest to get. I'm just so happy for these guys. I love them. I love this team."

Lopez (4-3) came on to the start the bottom of the fourth inning with a 6-1 lead and allowed three hits while striking out five and walking one. He was removed a runner on first and one out in the ninth inning.

"He was really impressive," Werth said. "We still have some questions about our roster going into the postseason. He's a great talent and if he pitches like he did tonight he can really help us."

Marc Rzepczynski and Blake Treinen got one out each to end the game, and a pocket of Nationals' fans behind the visiting dugout cheered.

Joe Ross allowed one run and five hits over 2 2/3 innings in his second start since missing 2 months with right shoulder inflammation.

Drew's single came after Bryce Harper's sacrifice fly. Harper also drove in a run with a grounder during a three-run fourth that included three errors and increased the Nationals' lead to 6-1. Jayson Werth hit into a run-scoring forceout and Anthony Rendon had a sacrifice fly.

Wilson Ramos had three hits for the Nationals, and Drew and Werth added two each.

Quick Links

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident

usatsi_9286819.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident

MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Marlins have announced the death of ace right-hander Jose Fernandez.

The U.S. Coast Guard says Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach early Sunday.

The Marlins did not immediately release details, other than releasing a statement confirming the death of one of the top pitchers in baseball.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.