PHILADELPHIA - A win is a win is a win.
This win was just not one you’ll see replayed on MASN’s “Nationals Classics” or used as part of a defensive drills tutorial anytime soon.
The Nationals beat the Phillies 9-6 tonight at Citizens Bank Park in a game that saw the two teams combine to throw 347 pitches, just 54 percent of which were strikes.
Six Phillies pitchers combined to walk nine batters. The Nats made three errors, the Phillies one.
The Nats had two runs score on bases-loaded walks and one run score when a third strike went to the backstop for a wild pitch. This was not textbook major league ball.
“That was an ugly game. One of the uglier ones I’ve seen,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “Gio (Gonzalez) had a real rough start, threw a lot of pitches and he hung in there, but it was sloppy behind him. That’s not the way you win pennants, I’ll tell you that. I’ll tell you. We squeaked it out.
“It’s tough on everybody. But Gio didn’t have much command. Early on he couldn’t find the plate and then the defense didn’t help. We missed some scoring opportunities. It was just ugly. I’m sitting over there and you know, (Tyler Clippard) gives up another long one and I said, ‘Here we go again.’ “
In the end, the Nats held on for the win, evening this series at a game apiece going into tomorrow’s finale. But even when things weren’t necessarily sloppy, they were bizarre.
Bryce Harper forgot how many outs there were when he caught a fly ball in the eighth inning, believing that he’d grabbed the final out of the frame. There were, in fact, just two outs, and so Harper needed to slam the breaks on his jog in to the infield and toss the ball back in. Harper turned around to head back to his position and laughed as he heard it from both Phillies fans and his teammates.
“He’s a thrill a minute,” Johnson joked. “I’m just glad he was still on his feet at the end of the game and it didn’t look like he had as much problem with the hip tonight so that’s good news.”
Corey Brown was called upon to pinch-hit in the seventh inning with the Nats leading 7-5, and in his first big league at-bat of the season, Brown crushed a solo homer into the second deck in right to give the Nats a key insurance run.
“He hit probably the furthest ball he’s ever hit in his life,” Johnson said. “That was a bomb. That was a big run.”
Ryan Mattheus came in to relieve Gonzalez in the sixth, surrendered an RBI single on the first pitch he threw, and then tossed two wild pitches. He ended up getting out of the jam, but had another shaky outing, leaving Johnson “a little bit” concerned.
“I think he just tries to overthrow (his sinker) and leaves it up letter-high, nice ball to hit when you’re pinch-hitting,” Johnson said. “But we’ve got to keep going to him. He’s got to get it right.”
Overall, these were the type of mistakes you don’t normally see a team making this late in the season, something Johnson is well aware of.
“I mean, we we’re a young team last year and we were in a pennant race and we handled it all right but we still aren’t out of it,” he said. “We’re just not handling things as, it’s individuals. We have a few cracks in the dam. I need to plug ‘em. I’m running out of fingers.
All that said, a win is a win is a win.
“As ugly as it was, it sure was delightful to win,” Johnson said.