Apr 28, 2015, 10:37 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Where to begin with this one? Guess we need to start at the beginning, with A.J. Cole making his major-league debut and getting beat up to the tune of nine runs in only two innings, a painful way to be introduced to the world. Who would’ve believed that would be a footnote by night’s end?
The Nationals did everything in their power to bail out the rookie right-hander, and somehow they pulled it off in historic fashion. Down 9-1 after two innings and 10-2 after four innings, they put together a furious rally, scoring four times in the fifth, once in the sixth and three times in the seventh, trimming the lead to 11-10 at the crowd at Turner Field stood to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The Braves added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 12-10, which is where things stood as the Nats came up to bat in the top of the ninth. Until Dan Uggla launched a 3-run homer off Jason Grilli, improbably bringing the Nationals all the way back to take a 13-12 lead that left the crowd in stunned silence.
And when Drew Storen finished off the Braves in the bottom of the ninth, this historic rally was complete. The Nationals set a new club record for largest comeback victory, besting the 7-run deficit they overcame against the Yankees on June 17, 2006. They also snapped their 6-game losing streak in most dramatic style
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: There were no shortage of big hits during the Nationals’ prolonged rally, including a 3-run, opposite-field homer by Jose Lobaton. But who are we kidding, this was Uggla’s night. His 2-run triple in the top of the seventh really made this improbable comeback seem possible. And then he topped that with his 3-run homer off Grilli in the ninth, giving him five RBI over the game’s final three innings. The veteran’s future with the Nationals is murky, with a spot not likely to be available once Anthony Rendon returns. But credit to Uggla for being among those players who didn’t give up on this game and helped pull off the unthinkable.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Though he obviously was put into a tough situation, asked to help stop a 6-game losing streak in his big-league debut, Cole’s wounds in this game were entirely self-inflicted. Everything he threw was up and over the plate, with his fastball registering anywhere from 90-to-93 mph. He was torched for nine runs and nine hits (pretty much every one of them scorched) in two laborious innings. And when given a chance to get out of the second still in one piece, he dropped Ryan Zimmerman’s feed at first base for an error that brought two runs home and prolonged the inning (and his misery. Cole was pulled after those two innings and is likely headed back to Syracuse. You can only hope this experience won’t have any lasting effect on him. Hopefully the fashion in which his teammates rallied will aid that cause.
KEY STAT: Cole became only the 14th pitcher in MLB history to give up nine or more runs in his first career start, the fourth this century: Luis de los Santos (2002), John Stephens (2002) and Arnie Munoz (2004).
UP NEXT: The series concludes with another 7:10 p.m. game Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann (1-2, 5.23) gets the start against lefty Alex Wood (1-0, 3.00).
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ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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