The Nationals are on their way to San Francisco right now, and I can only imagine that’s one happy plane. They survived a ninth-inning catastrophe, got the best of a team that hit them with five pitches and escaped Arizona with a split to start off an 11-game road trip. Today could have been a disaster. Instead, it’s a rallying point.
It was hard to delve fully into everything that happened in the game story. Here’s some more detail that was left out of the paper:
>>> Jason Marquis was adamant that he did not hit Justin Upton on purpose with the pitch that got him thrown out of the game.
“It was a big situation to get a groundball double play,” Marquis said. “I just a let a sinker rip. The feel for the ball out here has always been tough for me. It’s a 1-0 game. Why would I want to put more runners on base?”
The air in Arizona, Marquis said, is kind of a double-edged sword. He gets a ton of movement on his sinker – as evidenced by him allowing three hits in 5 1/3 innings – but he sometimes has trouble controlling it. It would seem one hell of a coincidence that Upton would be the one batting one a pitch slipped and bored square into a batter’s ribs. But Marquis said that’s what happened.
Marquis said the game situation trumped any urge at revenge after Ian Kennedy had plunked Jayson Werth. When he hit Upton, he put the go-ahead run at first base.
“Sometimes, [the umpires] could read the situation a little bit and read the situation better,” Marquis said. “It serves no purpose. I’m just putting myself in a bigger hole and putting my team in a bigger hole.”
Here’s Manager Jim Riggleman, also shooting down the notion Marquis threw at Upton, while making clear he believes the Diamondbacks threw at Werth:
“I can promise as surely as I’m sitting here, we did not one time have any intent to hit Upton,” Riggleman said. “I feel terrible he got hit four times [in the series], because every time, it was hurting our chances to win the ballgame. We don’t want to hit him. Clearly, we feel that when there was an open base, they took some shots at Werth. Upton had gotten hit, so Werth gets hit. We didn’t like that, but warnings are given. We’re not throwing at anybody. If Jason gets thrown out of the game – we’re trying to win the game. He doesn’t want to come out of that game. It’s freakish that the same guy kept getting hit. I can assure you that nobody was thrown at from our end. I’m disappointed Jason was able to continue to pitch.”
Two batters after Kennedy hit Morse and warnings were given, Kennedy grazed Morse with a pitch. Home plate umpire Rob Drake said later he deemed the pitch unintentional, which is why he did not eject Kennedy. Morse agreed Kennedy had not hit him on purpose.
“He didn’t throw at him,” Riggleman said. “They threw a couple balls in on Morse. He didn’t get ejected. And that’s what I went out and told Rob. I said, ‘Rob, those two pitches in on Morse, that’s good umpiring. There was no intent there. And we’re not going to have any intent, either. If anything happens inside on a hitter, please don’t eject anybody, because we’re not going to throw at anybody.’ Sure enough, he threw him out of the game.”
>>> Wilson Ramos has a bruise on his shin after a fouling a ball off just below his knee in the second inning, and he said it won’t affect his playing status. After he fouled the pitch, he walked out of the batter’s box, took off his helmet and grimaced in pain.
“We didn’t know if he was going to stay in the game or not,” Marquis said.
Said Ankiel: “It looked like it hurt. I felt bad for him. I could see where it hit him right through his pants. It’s a tough thing to grind out, but he hung in there.”
In the fourth, Ramos made a terrific defensive play, corralling a wild pitch and making a spinning throw – an absolute strike – to third to nail Juan Miranda.
And in the eighth, Ramos walked to the plate 4 for his last 37 and drilled a three-run homer. “That,” he said, “was the pitch I’ve been waiting for.” He took an extra-slow trip around the bases. The homer came immediately after Danny Espinosa had been and the benches nearly emptied. After the game, Ramos said the trot had a purpose.
“I didn’t feel bad,” Ramos said. “I wanted to see those guys angry.”
The Diamondbacks play the Nationals on Aug. 22 in Washington. Safe to say Ramos can expect his ribs and a baseball to become intimately acquainted that night.
>>> Sean Burnett has had his struggles this season, but Sunday he recorded what might have been the five most crucial outs of the game. He came on in the ninth with men on first and third and one out, the Nationals up one run.
“It’s cool to be in those types of situations,” Burnett said. “I almost made it really cool.”
The first batter he faced, Xavier Nady, chopped weakly to short, and Ian Desmond waited on a high hop and flipped to second. Espinosa fired to first for the out that would end the game, but Nady just beat the throw and the game-tying run scored. Burnett ended the inning by getting Willie Bloomquist to fly to center, then he pitched around a walk by Upton in the 10th, a relatively drama-free inning.
“Outstanding,” Manager Jim Riggleman said.
“It’s just one outing,” Burnett said. “I haven’t put together a string of good outings. I’m not going to get ahead of myself. It’s a good start. Sometimes, when you get in those situations, you don’t have time to think if you’re doing good or bad. You just got to react.”
>>> Jayson Werth made maybe the best catch of his Nationals tenure. In the fifth, Juan Miranda hit a long fly ball to the corner in right field, to the foul side of the foul pole. Werth leaped at the wall and pulled the ball from the other side of the fence. “I expect myself to make that kind of play,” Werth said.
>>> Tyler Clippard almost had one of those crazy games of his where he just cleans house. He took over for Marquis and stranded both runners by striking out Stephen Drew and Chris Young on seven total pitches, three of which they swung at and missed. Clippard threw 26 of his 30 pitches for strikes, 10 of which the Diamondbacks swung at and missed. He struck out six of the eight batters he faced, all swinging.
Kelly Johnson ended his day with a solo home run, which meant the day couldn’t be ranked alongside his game against the Mets early last season or his outing against the Marlins earlier this year. But Clippard, until Johnson came up, was absolutely dominant.
>>> One last point: Henry Rodriguez pitched a 1-2-3 11th. It wasn’t exactly high pressure with a five-run lead, but it was a 1-2-3 inning for a pitcher who does not get many of those. Rodriguez has a 1.84 ERA and a 11.7 strikeouts per nine this year.