ST. LOUIS - The Nationals lead 4-0 after the top of the first thanks to what is easily one of the strangest scenes I’ve ever witnessed on a baseball field.
Up with the bases loaded and none out, Michael Morse went with a Kyle Lohse, first-pitch, two-seam fastball and drove it to right. The ball bounced off an advertisement banner just above the right field wall and kicked back on the field.
The guys on the bases for the Nationals all seemed to think the ball was gone and Morse should have been credited with a grand slam, but the umpires let play continue. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche got backed up at third and second, respectively, leaving Morse caught in no-man’s-land after making a turn around first.
Morse was tagged out, but to their credit, the umpires convened and decided to take a look at the replay. After about a minute, they returned to the field and signaled that Morse was indeed credited with a home run.
But that’s when things really got bizarre.
The umpires determined that all the baserunners needed to go back to where they originally were when Morse’s at-bat began, allowing them all to go around and touch each bag.
That meant that Bryce Harper had to come out of the dugout and go back to third base, Zimmerman went back to second, LaRoche trotted over to first and Morse, who seemed confused as all heck for a few seconds, had to go back to the batter’s box.
Once he got there, Morse - who apparently was really enjoying the experience by this point - took a fake swing, and all the runners jogged around the bases.
Only in elementary school does that happen - a guy takes a fake swing and hits a grand slam in a playoff race. This time, however, it actually counted.
And the Nationals have a 4-0 lead because of it. It’s Morse’s second grand slam of the season and fourth of his career.
Update: It’s still 4-0 Nats after six innings, as Jordan Zimmermann is on cruise control.
Zimmermann has allowed just four hits and has struck out five through six scoreless. He’s thrown 93 pitches.
The Nats have put at least one runner on in each inning, but haven’t been able to manage any runs since Morse’s grand slam that wasn’t and then was again in the first.
Down in Atlanta, meanwhile, the Braves lead the Mets 2-0 after seven innings. Barring a comeback by Terry Collins’ bunch, the Nats will have to wait at least another day to clinch the division.