It is a strategic move. But you don’t see a team walk a batter to get to a clutch hitter like Jayson Werth too many times. It set up a possible double play. Instead it turned into a game-changing grand slam.
Nationals reliever Craig Stammen, who kept the Marlins off the board for three and 1/3 innings, said it doesn’t take too much to get Werth going, usually something way less egregious than an intentional walk.
“Well, knowing Jayson, if a pitcher looks at him wrong, he’ll take that personally,” Stammen said. “So blatantly walking to get to him, you know you typically don’t walk to get to your three-hole hitter, especially a veteran guy who has proven he can get big hits. But they chose to, and it worked out in our favor this time.”
Werth knew that the walk to Anthony Rendon in front of him, which loaded the bases in the eighth with the Nationals trailing 7-6, was one option in an attempt to set up a possible double play ball.
“No, I wasn’t shocked,” Werth said of the Marlins’ decision to walk Rendon. “There are a few ways to play that, that was one of them for sure. But it worked out.”
Werth did not take it personally. But what got him riled up was the first pitch of the at-bat.
“It is just part of it,” Werth said of the intentional walk. “I think I was more pissed off about the strike one call than anything else. When you are put in that situation and the game is on the line, you want to come through for your teammates. I was happy to do that.”
The Nationals came back from 5-0 and 7-6 deficits to win the game, 10-7. The comeback win was the Nats’ fifth of the season, and their record improved to 6-2. Could this trend of bouncing back in games become a positive to begin the season?
“You hope so,” Werth said. “I never felt out of this game, that is for sure. If you look at the way we played down the stretch last year in second half, and the way we played so far this year that can become an identity, for sure. We just got to keep going, keep pressing, take opportunities when they are given to us and keep winning ball games.”
Werth also was a part of a big play on defense. In the top of eighth, Garrett Jones’ RBI double might have plated two runs if it wasn’t for Werth’s throw to Rendon and the relay to catcher Jose Lobaton. Giancarlo Stanton was tagged out before he touched home plate, and the Marlins led by just one, 7-6. Miami committed three errors in the game.
“We took advantage of some mistakes they made as well,” Werth said. “It was a crazy game, back and forth. One of those games when you play that long, you want to win. So, did our job and got a chance for the sweep tomorrow.”
The 21,190 fans at Nationals Park also congratulated Werth for his mammoth blast with a curtain call request. Werth had to be told to get up the steps out of the dugout and tip his cap after crushing the go ahead, eventual game deciding grand slam.
“Somebody reminded me, I was somewhere else at that point,” Werth said. “That was a nice gesture by the fans, I was happy to come through for them.”