The Nationals were cruising along nicely in the first game of their doubleheader with the Phillies. Tommy Milone had flashed a full array of pitches in six shutout innings (against an admittedly undermanned Phillies lineup) and the Nationals had put him in line for his second straight win after Roger Bernadina’s three-run homer in the top of the seventh.
But then Milone came out of the game, and everything unraveled.
Doug Slaten started the inning by giving up a pair of singles to ex-Washington farmhand Michael Martinez and former National Pete Orr. That put two runners on base for Tyler Clippard, who allowed a three-run homer on the third pitch, and first fastball, he threw to Raul Ibanez.
It’s 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning after the homers.
Milone is hardly the first pitcher this season not to get a win after a superb outing, but this one felt different. Slaten has allowed a .348 batting average this season, and though Martinez’s single was an infield hit, Slaten couldn’t regroup and get Orr. The two left-handers were hardly imposing hitters, and with Ibanez due up, it’s likely manager Davey Johnson was planning to give Slaten the whole inning, with Clippard on hand in case there was trouble. But if that was the plan, it might have been better to start with Clippard all along.
As it is, Milone had his best major league start, throwing a full complement of fastballs (four-seamer, two-seamer and cutter) in addition to his curveball, slider and changeup. But he’ll only have a no-decision to show for it after the Nationals’ bullpen gave up a lead.