This really was a tremendous ballgame for 10 innings. Then the Orioles broke things open in a big way in the top of the 11th.
Chris Davis’ two-run homer started a six-run rally in the 11th, with Craig Stammen allowing five of the six runs, as the O’s took the first game of the Battle of the Beltways 8-2.
Stephen Strasburg allowed just two runs (both coming in on a Nelson Cruz fourth-inning homer) in seven innings, Anthony Rendon had a two-run shot that tied the game in the sixth, and Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano and Drew Storen each delivered a scoreless frame to give the Nationals’ bats more chances.
But the Nats left the potential winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, and the O’s put the hammer down in the 11th.
Here’s manager Matt Williams after the game:
On Stammen’s outing: “I just think he made some really close pitches on Davis, got to 3-2 and had to throw a strike, and he took advantage of it. And then the ball to (J.J.) Hardy, just a breaking ball that stayed up a little bit.”
On whether the close pitches were blown calls: “No, we looked at them. They’re off. They’re close, but they’re off the plate. A couple inches a different way, it may be a different story. But he got to full and put a good swing on it.”
On the Nats’ chance in the ninth against sidearming reliever Darren O’Day: “It’s difficult. You figure that a right-handed sidearm pitcher, the ball sinks a lot, but he was throwing balls up in the strike zone. That’s difficult to see, because it comes down here and it takes a different angle than you’re used to - up-to-down as opposed to down-to-up. That’s why he’s in that spot, because he’s really tough on right-handed hitters. But we had an opportunity. Just didn’t happen.”
On Strasburg’s outing: “I think his tempo was good. He was just getting the ball and going. His tempo was ... we talked about it last time, where he slowed the game way down. Today, he was, with the exception of the one pitch to Cruz, he was really good. His tempo was real good.”
On how the tempo benefits Strasburg: “I think it just allows him to feel his pitches more. Again, last time, it was really hot, he was really trying to feel the baseball. Tonight, it wasn’t so bad, so he was able to get it, didn’t have to worry about sweating, going to the rosin bag so much. All the stuff we talked about last time. I think his tempo and working fast and being in the strike zone was really good.”
On Ryan Zimmerman’s off-target throw in the eighth: “He gets the ball and he’s going away from first base. No, I’m not worried about it. He made plays all over the diamond tonight. I’m not concerned about it at all.”