MILWAUKEE - While still getting over the fact that we very nearly saw Adam LaRoche pitch last night ...
What a ballgame that was at Miller Park last night and into this morning. In addition to some idiot sliding down Bernie Brewer’s slide, we had 16 hard-fought, drama-filled innings between two division-leading clubs.
Ryan Zimmerman then gave the Nats the lead in the top of the 16th with a massive two-run homer, and followed it by making a spectacular diving grab in the bottom half of the inning to help lock up the win.
The Nats were worn down after the game. Their previously taxed bullpen had worked 10 innings, and held the Brewers without a single run after Jordan Zimmermann departed in the sixth. Their position players were exhausted after playing nearly two full ballgames.
But they scratched and clawed and eared another win over the team with the best record in the National League, guaranteeing themselves a series win on the road and giving themselves a chance for a sweep today.
“We didn’t want to do that. Nobody wants to play 16 just because it taxes everybody, but they’ve been doing this all year,” Matt Williams said afterward. “There’s been a lot of situations this year where you’d say we were out of a game or the other team got an early lead and we were able to come back. That’s a testament to them and how they grind it out.”
As for today’s series finale against Milwaukee, don’t be surprised if we see a couple of regulars out of the lineup.
Sandy Leon will be behind the plate after Jose Lobaton caught all 16 innings last night, that’s for sure. But Williams had been looking for an opportunity to get Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth a day off even before the Nats played a 16-inning game, so I would expect at least one of those two to sit today.
Winning the first two games of this series also allows Williams to feel like he can give some of his boys a break today, if need be.
The bullpen is a trickier situation. Williams said last night that the Nats might need to make a roster move to add a fresh arm to add to an exhausted relief corps, and it appears that’s what the team will do.
Right-hander Taylor Hill, who has spent this season in the rotation at Triple-A Syracuse and punched up a stellar 1.92 ERA in 93 2/3 innings, looks like he’ll be joining the Nats here in Milwaukee. His college coach at Vanderbilt, Tim Corbin, tweeted as much this morning. (Hat-tip to The Post’s James Wagner for spotting the Corbin tweet.)
The Nats could clear a spot for Hill on the 40-man roster by placing left-hander Matt Purke, who recently had Tommy John surgery, on the 60-day DL. They would obviously also need to add Hill to the 25-man roster, which wouldn’t be as easy.
Aaron Barrett could slide back down to Triple-A for the minimum 10 days and then return to the Nats, just as he did earlier this year when Washington needed a fresh arm. The Nats could also drop a position player in order to add Hill, and go with a short bench for now.
Complicating things here is that the Nats will play a doubleheader in Chicago on Saturday. Stephen Strasburg will need to go deep into today’s game and Doug Fister will have to eat innings tomorrow, as the guys in the ‘pen need some rest.
Regardless, the Nats have a chance to escape Milwaukee with a sweep today. They’ll be tired, they’ll be chugging coffee and Red Bull, but thanks to their work last night, they’ve set themselves up for a solid road trip.