In what might turn out to be the most bizarre game the Nationals play this season, it’s only fitting it would end this way: Rick Ankiel, who’d just swung at a 2-0 curveball from a left-hander who’d thrown six straight balls, still drawing a bases-loaded walk, and Michael Morse following it up with an 11th-inning grand slam just over the center field fence.
There wasn’t too much else that could have happened between the Nationals and Diamondbacks on Sunday in a sweaty, sloppy, 11-inning affair that featured 12 pitchers, four hit-by-pitches, four ejections and a blown-three run lead from a closer who had only blown one save all year.
When it finally ended, though, some four hours after it started, the Nationals had a 9-4 win and a series split against the Diamondbacks.
The Nationals did plenty of things wrong on Sunday; Storen had a rough day, and they stranded 10 runners. But sometimes in baseball, you get away with things because you’re able to get men on base and hit homers. The Nationals have failed to do that far too many times this season, but when they got some walks in the 11th inning, they benefitted again from having Morse in the lineup. He’s hit nine homers this year, eight since April 24, and has both of his career grand slams in the last two weeks.
They’ll now go to San Francisco for three games, having split a series where they got shut out twice and traded hit-by-pitches with the first-place Diamondbacks all weekend. Pretty? No. But in their current state, the Nationals will likely welcome it.