Something about these Nationals, they know how to mount a comeback. A lot has not gone their way this season, from injuries to sloppy defense to inconsistent early innings for the pitchers.
But Wednesday reminded baseball that this team never stops fighting.
Down 4-1 heading into their last at-bat, the Nationals rallied for four runs and shocked the Angels 5-4.
The inning got its start as catcher Jose Lobaton connected off of Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri on an 0-2 pitch, slamming a long drive down the right field line to trim the deficit to 4-2. It was his first homer for the Nats.
“I feel like the Lobaton at-bat was just the spark we needed,” Werth said. “Seems like the last few days, really we just can’t get it going. We had our chances. That was the hit we needed.”
“The damage was really done before my at-bat,” LaRoche said. “Some great at-bats. Lobaton comes up and puts a run on the board quick.”
After the Lobaton home run, pinch-hitter Zach Walters struck out for the first out.
But Denard Span reignited the rally with a base hit and Anthony Rendon walked.
With two men on, Frieri’s wildness helped Werth get to a 3-0 count. Normally, the next offering is a take pitch. Not in this situation. Werth swung and laced a double down the left field line, just inside the bag at third. Span and Rendon raced around the bases and came home to tie the game at 4-4.
“It is one of those situations, hit into a double play right there it is probably the worst play you have ever seen,” Werth said. “If you get a hit, it is the best. So I am glad it worked out, that is for sure.
“It is probably just how you feel. Some guys are comfortable swinging 3-0, some guys aren’t. Sometimes even if you feel comfortable swinging 3-0, you don’t really feel it. But for whatever reason, I felt it and I went for it.”
LaRoche, waiting for a possible at-bat in the on-deck circle, was amazed to see Werth’s swing turn into a game-changing two-run double.
“I can’t imagine anyone thinking J-Dub is going to swing 3-0 right there,” LaRoche said. “Surprised all of us, came up huge. Big win, needless to say, we needed that one.”
LaRoche arrived at the plate with the game tied at 4-4 and the Angels going with right-hander Fernando Salas. One swing later, game over. LaRoche hit the first offering hard off of Salas to left-center and Werth scored the game-winning run for a 5-4 Nationals win.
LaRoche was asked to break down the key at-bat. He said if you blinked, you would have missed it.
“Well, it didn’t last long, it was one pitch,” LaRoche said. “Not a whole lot to go through. He left a fastball up over the plate. In that situation, just trying to hit something hard. I know he has a good changeup, so I can’t really sell out on the fastball. I tried to put a good swing on.”
Manager Matt Williams said LaRoche knew Salas well. But what was LaRoche thinking about as he stepped in?
“I am still sticking with the game plan, trying to get something out over the plate that I can drive,” LaRoche said. “In that situation, typically guys are trying to get ahead. I was able to find a hole with it. Awesome game.”
Werth said the ninth-inning rally, which took six batters to put four runs on the board, demonstrated what this team is capable of accomplishing. The rally turned into the Nationals’ seventh come-from-behind win of the season.
“We just need to keep it going,” Werth said. “Last night, we are sitting here talking about how bad we are. Tonight it is a different story. Crazy game.”