After the Nationals let Stephen Strasburg stay in for the fifth inning and put himself in line for a win in his first start back to the majors, they only needed a half-inning to strip that chance away from him.
Doug Slaten put two runners on base early in the sixth, and with one out, manager Davey Johnson went to Brad Peacock, who was supposed to relieve Strasburg. Johnson started the inning with Slaten because two left-handers were due up. But when Peacock - who had 12 relief appearances in the minors - came into the game, he was pitching from the stretch with two men on base and NL MVP candidate Matt Kemp at the plate.
That’s an unenviable situation for almost any rookie, let alone one making his debut. But Peacock would have been out of the inning if Ian Desmond hadn’t mishandled two ground balls in the inning. Both of them were scored hits, perhaps generously, but they kept the inning alive for Andre Ethier to tie the game on a single to center.
Manager Davey Johnson said before the game he wasn’t going to have Peacock start the game in the middle of an inning, and perhaps he was trying to find the right-hander enough work in the flow of the game to still use him after Strasburg pitched an extra inning. If Peacock hadn’t started until the seventh, he would have been looking at finishing the game in a save situation or only getting an inning or two of work. He also didn’t do himself any favors by walking Juan Rivera.
But the way the situation was handled was curious, to say the least. We’re now in a rain delay with the game tied at three in the seventh.