At the seventh inning stretch, the Nationals have a 6-4 lead over the Reds, having added to the margin in the fifth with a Ryan Zimmerman home run that came within a few rows of reaching the left field concourse. But their lead also got smaller after a curious decision from manager Davey Johnson.
Johnson let pitcher Chien-Ming Wang - who’d gone six innings despite allowing a number of hard-hit balls - bat for himself in the bottom of the sixth and start the seventh. Wang, who hadn’t pitched this deep into a game since June 10, 2008, allowed a run with one out in the inning, and had to give way to Tyler Clippard.
Clippard finished the inning, but he’ll likely have to come back for the eighth inning, when Johnson has an eight-man bullpen that hadn’t worked since Saturday. If the Nationals are only going to trust Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen with a lead, it seems extraneous for them to carry so many relievers.
Wang did a good job, considering he had trouble locating his sinker all night. The Nationals will ask Clippard to work another inning, though, and hope they can get the ball to Storen in the ninth.