The Nationals were hoping that Friday night would be the moment they could finally pop champagne in celebration of an NL East title. All they had to do was win and hope for a New York Mets loss.
Neither happened. As a result, the Nats’ magic number remains at two entering Saturday.
Here are a few takeaways from Friday night's game:
Melancon’s first blown save: Entering Friday, Mark Melancon was a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities as the Nats’ closer. And as the baseball gods would have it, his first blown save with Washington comes against his former Pittsburgh teammates. Of the four blown saves Melancon’s had all season, one is against the Nats (when he was still with the Pirates), and the other against the Pirates. Baseball is a funny game.
Turner still learning center field: Though Trea Turner has done just about everything in his short time in the big leagues, he’s still a work in progress as a center fielder. That inexperience bit the Nats in a critical moment on Friday night. With Washington clinging to a 5-4 ninth-inning lead with two outs and a man on, the Pirates’ Sean Rodriguez drilled a Melancon fastball to left-center. Turner didn’t appear to get a great jump after contact, and and got to the ball a tad late. He lunged, but it landed over his head, allowing the tying run to score. It's moments like those that make one wonder if Dusty Baker might consider realigning his defense late in games come October.
Zim reaches milestone: With his run-scoring double in the second inning, Zimmerman notched career RBI No. 1500. The accomplishment is one of the bright spots in an otherwise down season for the veteran first baseman. Though he’s struggled for most of 2016, the Nats are hoping he heats up as the playoffs begin. Case in point: he’s got hits in seven of his last nine games.
Ramos heating up? After an early late-August and early-September swoon, it appears Ramos has found his power stroke once again. He now has six extra-base hits in his last eight games. With the offense scuffling a bit of late, the Nats need Ramos to return to his early-season form.
Up next: The Nats will look to wrap up the division Saturday night as they send Joe Ross (7-5, 3.48 ERA) to the hill to oppose Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.19 ERA).
Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray helped backstop the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2016, but his status for the team's opener for the upcoming season is suddenly in doubt. Murray suffered a broken hand while representing Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey and is expected to miss three to six weeks.
According to the Penguins, Murray suffered the injury in the game on Sept. 19 against Russia, North America's lone loss of the tournament.
The Caps open their season in Pittsburgh on Oct. 13. That would be about the three week mark which puts Murray's status for the game in serious jeopardy.
But don't get too excited, Caps fans. With Marc-Andre Fleury still in tow, the Penguins are still well set in net should their budding star netminder need more time to recover.