Before we get to the fun stuff from another walk-off win, there’s a roster move to pass along.
The Nationals designated infielder Brett Carroll for assignment after the game, making room for Rick Ankiel on the 25-man roster. Ankiel will be activated from the disabled list and play tomorrow against the Reds.
When manager Davey Johnson sat down for his postgame press conference, he let out a sigh and cracked a smile.
“Where do you want to begin?” he said.
There sure is a lot to discuss. First, the ending, which finally came in the 13th inning when Jayson Werth smacked a single through the drawn-in infield, bringing in Danny Espinosa from third with the game-winning run.
Despite coming to the plate a handful of times with runners in scoring position so far this season, Werth had failed to record a big hit in a clutch situation. Until now, that is.
“He’s actually in a great frame of mind,” Johnson said. “He’s been swinging the bat good. I think he sometimes makes it tough on himself, demanding too much. I think he went up there the last time, just sitting on the breaking ball. Didn’t look too good taking a fastball and swung through one but that’s what you do to get clutch hit sometimes. All of us, the whole lineup, I’ve got to give credit. My pitching staff was outstanding. Both our clubs, we went to the nth degree with our bullpens.”
The Nationals’ bullpen was particularly outstanding, delivering six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, three walks and striking out seven. The only available guy left in the ‘pen when the game was over was Tyler Clippard, because lefty Sean Burnett felt some tightness in his back while warming up, but Johnson said he could’ve stuck with Craig Stammen as long as he needed to.
Stammen struck out the side in the 13th to get the win, marking the second straight day he struck out three in an extra-inning appearance against the Reds.
“It’s a remarkable bullpen because guys get right and lefts out,” Johnson said. “It was fun to watch the matchups all night.”
The Nats tied the game in the eighth when Xavier Nady came in as a pinch hitter and took Reds lefty Bill Bray out to left for a solo home run. The Nats had just two pinch-hit homers all of last season, but again today, their bench proved that it can come through in a big spot.
The Nady home run got starter Jordan Zimmermann off the hook, which thrilled Johnson and the guys in the Nats’ clubhouse. Without the late pinch-hit homer from Nady, Zimmermann might have been stuck with his second loss on the season despite allowing just two earned runs in his 14 innings.
“I was tickled to death that we got him off the hook,” Johnson said. “He pitched another great ballgame. It would have been tragic for him to lose that ballgame. I told him after the game, you’re a good pitcher, you learn how to spit the hook when you pitched a good ballgame and leave it behind. But that was the happiest moment of the game when, he pitched a great game and I’d hate for him to have been 0-2 after two great ballgames.”