Nationals 5, Tigers 4 (F/10 innings): You gotta catch that third strike

Bless You Boys

After an off-day Monday in which the Detroit Tigers very likely cut the grass, did the laundry and caught up on their daytime soap operas, the Tigers opened a mid-week, three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the Nationals bested the Tigers by a 5-4 score in ten innings.

After exiting his previous outing after two pitches and some abdominal discomfort, Kenta Maeda made his eleventh start of the season. It’s been a rough season for Maeda so far; four of those previous ten starts saw him give up five runs or more four times. But then he has the potential to go six innings and give up one run like he did on May 1 against the Cardinals, so what were we going to get tonight? Well, as it turns out, something kinda in-between.

Mitchell Parker, a left-handed rookie from New Mexico, made his eleventh start of the season. He’s been having a very good season so far with an ERA in the mid-3s, low walk numbers, a WHIP of 1.053, and very few home runs surrendered. He’s been a “pleasant surprise” this year, and has actually been a little tougher on right-handed hitters so far.

Maeda started off a little shaky in the first but managed to dial-in enough to get a double play and a strikeout. But then he had a 1-2-3 second, and I’m thinking, shoot, looks like we might have the Good Kenta today. He was definitely mixing-in an effective splitter… but he was definitely living dangerously by not getting strike-one on too many hitters.

The Tigers tried to get a little something going in the second with a Gio Urshela single and a Justyn-Henry Malloy walk. But then a popout to the catcher, a flyout and a groundout ended that threat.

In the top of the third Maeda gave up a single and walked a couple of guys to load the bases with two outs, bringing up the Nationals’ best hitter, Jesse Winker. Maeda went to a full count on Winker and the next pitch was nowhere close to the strike zone, walking in a run. He pulled it together enough to strike out the next hitter, Eddie Rosario, on a well-placed sweeper but by then the bullpen was already stirring.

Maeda gritted through another inning and Beau Brieske took over for the fifth. Joey Gallo hit a leadoff single to centre, and CJ Abrams tripled him home. Lane Thomas followed with the rare “sacrifice fly to the first baseman in foul territory” — Mark Canha made a fine running catch just over the foul line, and Abrams deftly scored on the play. When the dust settled, Washington was up 3-0.

In the bottom half of the fifth, the Tigers loaded the bases with a walk, an error on an easy comebacker and another walk: the ol’ unintentional-intentional walk to Canha so the lefty could face fellow lefty Riley Greene with two outs. But then Greene unloaded on a middle-middle 1-2 fastball, blasting it off the wall in deep right-centre field (107 mph off the bat), clearing the bases; the throw to third to try to nail Greene skipped away, and he came in to score to put the Tigers up 4-3.

Tyler Holton took over for the sixth and, as he is wont to do, efficiently got three outs before people got back to their seats from the restroom. He rolled along into the seventh, crisply retiring the next three batters too.

In the eighth, Holton gave up a single, and a pair of fielding errors put runners on the corners with one out. Shelby Miller came on and gave up a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game at 4.

Jason Foley took over in the top of the ninth in a tie game, and he had his sinker working quite nicely. Joey Meneses poked a single up the middle with two outs but Jacob Young struck out to send things to the bottom of the ninth.

With two outs pinch-hitter Zach McKinstry hit a single, and stole second on the first pitch to get into scoring position with Matt Vierling at the plate; he fell behind 0-2 before fouling off a couple and earning a walk. Colt Keith — whose knee was feeling decent enough to pinch-hit — was brought in for Andy Ibáñez, and the Nationals brought in Kyle Finnegan, their closer, to try to get the final out… which he did on a nasty swing-and-miss splitter. So, off to extras we went.

Washington’s Manfred Man was the speedy Young, and Andrew Chafin was brought in to pitch…which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. A swinging strike three in the dirt to Abrams got past Jake Rogers, allowing him to take first and Young to advance to third with none out, which is absolutely not what you wanted to happen. Thomas hit a fly ball to right to plate Young to put the Nationals up 5-4, which would ultimately be the final score.

Detroit started the bottom of the tenth with Keith on second and the tough Finnegan still on the mound. Canha hit a grounder to short so Keith couldn’t advance, Greene struck out looking for the second out, leaving things up to Urshela, who struck out swinging to end the game.

Box Score: Washington 5, Detroit 4 (10 innings)

Wow. Just wow.

This isn’t timely or anything. Saw it and thought I’d pass it along. Totally bananas.

Notes and Observations

  • Colt Keith avoided going on the Injured List after that collision in the outfield with Akil Baddoo on Sunday. He banged-up his left knee and was listed as “day-to-day” before the game, although he saw action late in the game.
  • Not so lucky with the IL, as noted here, is Javier Báez who has been having back trouble. Ryan Kreidler was recalled from Toledo and he started at shortstop on Tuesday night.
  • Tonight was Pride Night at Comerica Park. Let them rainbow flags fly!
  • Happy birthday to Vince Lombardi. He said something about winning once, I wasn’t really paying attention though, but I think winning might be one of two or three or maybe even five things. Can’t be the only thing, though.

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