The Nats’ new starting catcher went 0-for-4 today, but that didn’t stop him from soaking up every moment of the postgame atmosphere in the clubhouse after the 10-7 win.
“This is awesome!” he said.
Pretty much everyone in the Nats’ clubhouse acknowledged that the team came out a bit flat tonight, and the Marlins capitalized early on.
“They took advantage of every mistake we made,” Adam LaRoche said. “Stole a bunch of runs. And it wasn’t looking good.”
But yet again, the Nationals came through with some late-inning magic, stringing together five straight two-out hits, scoring six runs off Marlins reliever Mike Dunn to jump on top.
The eighth-inning comeback all started on LaRoche’s simple one-out grounder to first. Dunn went over to the bag to cover, but dropped a slow toss from first baseman Carlos Lee, allowing LaRoche to reach.
“That’s what we kept talking about is just the guy messed up the PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice) and it just happens like that,” Tyler Moore said. “This game’s crazy.”
“They gave it a lot of momentum,” Danny Espinosa said. “For Lombo to come up and get a base hit up the middle to score a run and then T-Mo have two strikes on him and get a base hit and score another run, it’s huge.”
Espinosa’s contribution was even larger. He got ahead in the count 2-1, then took a bad swing on a slider for strike two. Dunn tried to get one more slider by him on the next pitch, but Espinosa was having none of it. He walloped a ball way out to left that nearly went over the Marlins’ bullpen.
Standing on first base, Moore knew immediately it was way gone.
“I ain’t tagging for that,” he laughed after the game.
Espinosa had battled himself for much of the game, making two throwing errors earlier on. But instead of carrying his defensive struggles with him into the batter’s box, he was able to set that aside and focus on getting something over the middle of the plate that he could drive.
“(That’s) really hard,” LaRoche said. “You see it all the time, especially in a young guy. It’s tough to step in the box and not think about some runs you let in or some runs you left out on the bases. Again, the way that whole thing worked out, to be able to come through with a huge home run like that, god, you can’t say enough about it.”
Said Espinosa: “It’s a great feeling to just be able to come through. I’ve had a lot of situations this year where I think I haven’t done so well and to be able to come through for the team like that felt really good.”
Bryce Harper then got in on the fun, taking a hanging curve way out to right to cap the eighth-inning scoring and send the crowd into an even bigger frenzy.
“The past couple games, I’ve been taking swings like that, but just not connecting,” Harper said. “I’ve been chasing bad pitches, just trying to do a little too much. The crowd’s going crazy, that really gets me going. It felt good. I just have to build off that.”
After tonight’s comeback, the Nationals now have won eight games in which they’ve trailed after the seventh inning. Don’t leave Nats Park early if the home team is behind. You might miss some fireworks.
“To turn it around like that just says something about this club,” LaRoche said. “Not that we should be surprised. We’ve been doing that all year.”