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Nats 5, Dodgers 3: den Dekker’s HR wins suspended game

Jul 18, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Well, if you had to condense it down to one word, it would be: Weird. The opener of this series between NL powers began Friday evening under normal circumstances, with the Dodgers taking a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on Adrian Gonzalez’s homer off Jordan Zimmermann. And that’s when this became anything but a normal ballgame.

Three separate power outages at Nationals Park forced the suspension of the game in the top of the sixth, with the Nats leading 3-2 at that point thanks to Yunel Escobar’s 2-run homer. It resumed Saturday afternoon, with Tanner Roark taking the mound for what technically was his second inning of relief, and quickly turned into a tie game when Gonzalez homered to left field.

So now this turned into a battle of bullpens. The Nationals loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t push the winning run across. Then they put a man on in the bottom of the eighth, and this time they got the job done. Matt den Dekker, sent up to pinch-hit, pounced on Pedro Baez’s first pitch and sent it flying into the second deck in right field, giving the Nats the lead

The Nationals then rode scoreless innings of relief from Aaron Barrett, Casey Janssen and Drew Storen to take the very odd opener of this weekend’s series.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: He isn’t particularly known for his power stroke, but den Dekker certainly does make the most of the homers he hits. Last month, he clubbed a 2-run shot deep to right in Philadelphia to help lead the Nationals to a win. And on Saturday, he came up to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth and immediately launched Pedro Baez’s first pitch into the second deck down the right-field line, giving the Nats the lead. It has been contributions from players like den Dekker that have allowed the Natiobals to withstand the prolonged losses of four key lineup regulars to injury.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Casey Janssen spoke passionately last weekend about his desire to prove to the Nationals he deserves to be their primary eighth-inning guy. If the veteran reliever keeps pitching like this, he’ll earn that job soon enough. He tossed another 1-2-3 inning in a tight game Saturday, retiring the heart of the Dodgers order in the top of the eighth. Combined with his last appearance in Baltimore, Janssen has now retired six consecutive batters, four via strikeout. Janssen knows he doesn’t have the stuff to overpower hitters, but he feels like if he locates well and mixes things up he can still make hitters swing and miss. His last two times out, he has proven that.

KEY STAT: Tanner Roark has now surrendered 11 home runs (most on the Nationals’ pitching staff) even though he ranks fifth with 64 innings pitched.

QUOTABLE, PART 1: den Dekker on his homer: “First-pitch fastball, I think that’s what it was. I was just ready to be aggressive early, coming off the bench you gotta be in there and be ready to go. That’s what I did, just got a pitch over the plate and got the barrel on it… It’s just exciting to be a part of the win and a part of the team.”

QUOTABLE, PART 2: Matt Williams on the game being played across two days: “It’s good if you win it. It’s a humdinger of a game if you win it. If you don’t, then it doesn’t feel as good.”

UP NEXT: Don’t go anywhere, because today’s regularly scheduled game is coming up next. It’s Doug Fister (3-4, 4.08) vs. Clayton Kershaw (6-6, 2.85).

  1. veejh - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    Janssen sure was good. Precise. We need more of that.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    A bench GW RBI again. Bullpen was great except Roark. Drew was a double shot of bourbon there.

    • veejh - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:33 PM

      I thought the lead was gonna be blown after they had 1st and 2nd no outs. Great job by Drew staying focused on those next 2 batters. Joc was a tough AB. That last swing was a K, imo.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    Matt den Dekker may win me over yet. Storen? You gave us you Storenano best today.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 18, 2015 at 4:00 PM

      Even before this you know he’s a 6th man on the bench but he hustles and plays defense and has taken that McLouth role at a fraction of the price. I didn’t know he could hit a ball that far.

  4. Doc - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:31 PM

    New n;ickname—-Matt Upper den Decker!

    • micksback1 - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      LOL!!!

    • natsfan1a - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      His tweeter handle is upperdecker, I believe.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:42 PM

        er, make that upperdekker

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:54 PM

      His Twitter handle is @UpperDekker which was a joke in a way since he had 1 career HR coming into this season.

  5. micksback1 - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:31 PM

    Rizzo and MW get kudos for the bench players that are keeping the Nats a top. den decker, Robinson, etc…

    nice job.

    a little disappointed in Roark for not using common sense to Rodriguez, but, man is that guy strong to hit an opposite filed HR on a low pitch like that.

    happy for Storen, but I still wish we would get 1 more BP guy at least

  6. micksback1 - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:32 PM

    maybe Jansenn is the guy

    • veejh - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:39 PM

      Maybe. When he’s on, he looks REAL good. He just seems like the kind of pitcher that can get blown up on any AB.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:49 PM

        To be fair, Clippard had more than his share of those blow-up ABs as well.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    den Dekker deserves a 1.0 WAR just for that GW HR. I’m blown away by the bench guys. TyMo with the single and big hustle by Taylor to avoid the doubleplay allows den Dekker to come up with Taylor on base.

    • letswin3 - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:46 PM

      Yeah, Taylor was really getting it down the line.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 19, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      “I’m blown away by the bench guys.”

      Didn’t think we’d be saying that back in February. =) It’s stunning, really. Who in baseball has a better PERFORMING bench?

  8. natsfan1a - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:43 PM

    My one word for the results would be “yay.” But I’m a fan, so I can say that. 😉

    GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Well, if you had to condense it down to one word, it would be: Weird.

    • letswin3 - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      I would sat that they were “Lights Out”.

      • veejh - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:56 PM

        Ha!

    • micksback1 - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:48 PM

      yes and Johnny and FP alluded to this and explain that it is hard for players to turn the intensity around in 15 hours with practically no crowd, due to the start time and confusion of who could attend the game, last night’s patrons or todays?

    • ArVAFan - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:49 PM

      +1

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    den Dekker earns his full share of the World Series money.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 18, 2015 at 3:57 PM

      +1 that game changed on 2 swings—- Escobar’s and den Dekker’s.

    • npb99 - Jul 18, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      Nats Fans starting to feel cocky! A lot of WS references lately.
      Maybe tongue-in-cheek some of them…

      • therealjohnc - Jul 19, 2015 at 1:35 PM

        There are occasional cocky comments. Most fans, though, emphasize the gloom. We need to bring balance to the Force!

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