ATLANTA - Think the Nationals were emotionally beat-up after being on the losing end of a 2-1 walk-off loss to their chief division opponent?
Think again. They’ll be just fine.
“No one in here is hanging their head,” Ian Desmond said afterwards. “More scratching their head than hanging their head, I guess.”
“It’s just one of those days, one of those games,” Jayson Werth said. “You can’t really hang your head too much. It was a tight game. Both teams battled, and they were able to push one across at the end. Seemed like they just kinda bled us to death at the end there and got us in a tough spot. But all in all, we’ll come back tomorrow and play our game. We got a lot of big games coming the rest of the way. Nothing to be discouraged about.”
Desmond was charged with a throwing error on the play that allowed the game-winning run to score in the ninth, even though he had little time to gather the groundball off the bat of Tyler Pastornicky and fire home to try and gun Aldrelton Simmons at the plate.
It’s a tough play for a number of reasons - the ball wasn’t hit very hard, Simmons has good speed, and it wasn’t a force play at home.
“We’ve got the infield in right there,” Desmond said. “He hit me kind of a slow chopper kind of thing. I’ve got a prayer, basically, with Andrelton Simmons at third. Just tried to get it as quick as I could and get rid of it.
“If I set (before I throw), he’s already sliding in celebrating. There was a probably 1-in-10 chance, and (I) didn’t get him.”
The Nats did very little offensively all night, striking out 17 times, which was three more than their previous season-high. They also had just two at-bats with runners in scoring position the entire game thanks to Atlanta’s dominating mound trio of Kris Medlen, Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel.
Eight of Medlen’s 13 strikeouts were looking, which according to ESPN Stats & Information is the most by a pitcher in a game this season.
“Good pitching beats good hitting every day of the week, and he was good tonight,” Werth said. “Hit his spots, kept the ball down, pitched backwards at times and was aggressive in the zone. Got strike one and pitched tough.”
There weren’t many Nationals highlights in this game, but Roger Bernadina’s leaping catch in left field to rob Jason Heyward of extra bases and keep it a 1-0 game sure qualifies. Bernadina went crashing into the wall and needed a couple minutes to collect himself after taking the brunt of the contact with the wall squarely on his right shoulder.
“You don’t think about (the wall),” Bernadina said. “You just go on instinct. I know I was pretty close. The only play I could make was to jump to get it. I had to keep us in the game.”
“It was a great catch. I think going back on the ball, that’s a pretty impressive catch,” Bryce Harper said. “All the people yelling and screaming at him and things like that, keeping his composure and being able to catch that ball was pretty impressive.”
The Braves out-hit the Nats 10-to-5, but few of their basehits were squared up. They bested the Nats by playing small-ball and leaning on their pitching. Tonight, that was enough.
“Yeah that was the story of the night,” Werth said. “They put the ball in play and were fortunate. We obviously struck out a lot and didn’t give ourselves much of a chance but fortunately for us we’re in a good position where we’ve got two more games against them. We feel good about the way we’ve been playing baseball. Bounce back tomorrow.”