The Nationals suffered their second consecutive loss via a walk-off home run Monday in St. Louis, a cruel result that had MASN analyst Ray Knight in his feelings on the postgame show and struggling to find the words to describe what he had just witnessed.
“It just beats anything I’ve ever seen,” Knight said after Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong led off the ninth inning with a home run off of Koda Glover.
“This has been a messed up season,” Knight eloquently said of the Nationals’ 2018 campaign, which began with World Series aspirations and now sees the team trailing the Braves by seven games in the National League East, Washington’s largest deficit since July 26. MASN co-host Johnny Holliday later asked Knight, who played 13 seasons in the big leagues and managed for two more, if he had ever lost consecutive games on walk-off home runs.
“I don’t think so,” Knight said. “I don’t remember it.”
“If you did, you blocked it out,” Holliday replied.
“You better believe it, I’m taking that big ol’ eraser,” said Knight, who was with Detroit in the final month of his playing career in September 1988 when the Yankees walked off the Tigers in consecutive games at Yankee Stadium on home runs by Gary Ward and Claudell Washington.
In their history, the Nationals now have 108 walk-off wins and 97 walk-off losses. They’ve won in walk-off fashion in consecutive games at least once in five different seasons, including five walk-off wins in a six-game span in 2014. Before Monday night, the Nationals hadn’t experienced walk-off losses in consecutive games, even of the non-home run variety, since Sept. 17 and 18 of their inaugural 2005 season in San Diego. Those two losses dropped the Nationals 4.5 games out of the wild-card race with 12 games to play.
“You can turn it around if you desire to do so and go out and win some ballgames,” Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said after the Padres’ second straight walk-off win, which came on a throwing error by pitcher Joey Eischen. “You go out and win 10 of 12, and take your chances. But naturally, we’re going to need a lot of help.”
The 2005 Nationals went 4-8 down the stretch and missed the playoffs. This year’s Nationals are in a similar predicament, though they still have games remaining against the Braves and Phillies, the teams they’re chasing in the division.
“I want those guys to know, keep playing the way they’re playing, this will turn around,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said after Monday’s loss. “We’re going to get some guys back. We’re going to get healthy. Just keep playing. Our offense is doing really well right now, we’re playing really good defense. Just keep playing baseball. That’s all I ask, and this thing will turn around.”
Knight has no doubt the Nationals will continue to fight, but he said that won’t matter if they don’t start finishing games.
“Keep on playing,” Knight said on Monday’s postgame show. “They’re not going to give up. It’s just we’re not executing in certain facets of our game. . . . We’re gonna keep swinging bats, you’re gonna keep coming back, you’re not going to give up. . . . This team just keeps on trying, they’re not going to give up, they’re always going to keep their nose to the grindstone. Doggone it, that’s what major league baseball players do. Who’s going to give up? If you give up, something’s bad wrong with you and you’re going to be back home milking cows or something. You don’t give up, and they’re not going to give up, but still, we have to execute in situations from the mound, and we’re not doing it, period.”
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