Skip to content

Padres 6, Nats 5: Furious rally comes up short

Aug 26, 2015, 10:12 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Feeling as good as they have about themselves in weeks, the Nationals took the field Wednesday night with a chance to notch their third straight series victory and post a 4-game winning streak for the first time since June. But they wound up digging themselves into a big hole early, then saw a furious rally attempt come up just short.

Things started off poorly, with Yunel Escobar’s error opening the door for a 4-run third inning by the Padres against Gio Gonzalez, who struggled for a third straight outing. Down 5-0 in the fourth, though, the Nationals slowly clawed their way back to make this a game.

Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run in the fourth and another in the sixth, trimming the deficit to 5-2. The Padres got one back in the top of the seventh, when Justin Upton launched his second homer of the night, but the Nationals again rallied in the bottom of the inning, getting a bases-loaded walk from Anthony Rendon and a 2-run single from Bryce Harper. An Escobar double-play grounder on a 3-0 pitch ended that rally in disappointing fashion, but the Nats remained only one run down at that point.

That’s where the deficit remained. The Nationals couldn’t push across the tying run against either Joaquin Benoit or Craig Kimbrel, and so their winning streak was snapped at three games, their deficit to the Mets in the NL East in danger of growing to 6 1/2 games with 37 to play.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: There were a lot of very good at-bats during the Nationals’ seventh-inning rally: Denard Span’s double, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon’s walks, Bryce Harper’s 2-run single. But those became meaningless because of one really bad at-bat by Escobar. With three runs already in and the tying run now at third base with one out, Escobar worked the count to 3-0 against lefty Marc Rzepczynski. A walk would’ve loaded the bases for Zimmerman. Even a strikeout wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Instead, Escobar swung away at the 3-0 pitch and grounded to third. The Padres turned the 5-4-3 double play, getting a headfirst-sliding Escobar at first base to kill that rally in the most crushing of fashions.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Who knows what might have been had Escobar been able to start the 5-4-3 double play that would’ve ended the top of the third. Regardless, Gonzalez still had an opportunity to get out of the inning unscathed. Instead, he served up a 2-run double to Matt Kemp and then a 2-run homer to Justin Upton, turning a scoreless game into a 4-0 deficit in the blink of an eye. Gonzalez labored through most of his outing, which continued a downward trend for the lefty. After going 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over a stretch of eight starts from June 21 through August 10, Gonzalez now has a 10.22 ERA and 2.11 WHIP over his last three starts.

KEY STAT: Derek Norris, who was part of the Gio Gonzalez trade in 2011, is 3-for-4 with two homers, six RBI and a walk in his career against the left-hander.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up at 7:05 p.m. Thursday when the other member of the Ross Pitching Family, Joe, takes the mound for the Nationals, looking to improve his 4-5 record and 3.56 ERA. Right-hander Andrew Cashner (5-12, 4.03) starts for San Diego.

  1. philipd763 - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:27 PM

    Escobar and Williams killed the rally and probably any chances of catching the Mets.

  2. nats106 - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    Good effort, but just short. Harper and Zimmermann are some serious RBI machines. Unfortunately a nail in the tire kept me from making tonight’s game.

    I’m going to take it out and put it in the Nationals coffin for the 2015 season. I guess that leaves about 31 more to go.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    The Padres turned the 5-4-3 double play, getting a headfirst-sliding Escobar at first base to kill that rally in the most crushing of fashions.
    .
    I will never understand why a guy slides headfirst in to first.

    • alexva6 - Aug 27, 2015 at 6:54 AM

      the last act of a desperate man

      • natsfan1a - Aug 27, 2015 at 7:35 AM

        [begin obligatory film reference]

        “We don’t care if it’s the first act of ‘Henry V,’ we’re leaving!”

        [end obligatory film reference]

    • chapjim - Aug 27, 2015 at 10:25 AM

      Only reason to slide in to first is to avoid a tag. Definitely not to get there quicker.

  4. lesatcsc - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:41 PM

    It has been a season of epic fails in key situations. Escobar, who has been great most of the season, tonight, Gio who was terrific for a series of starts and awful when they needed him to continue being terrific, Desi who struck out in a critical situation again tonight (I have a sense of deja vu). At almost every critical moment a different Nat has failed and the season has been lost in those moments. They are now in a position where they have to hope the Mets lose the division because there is almost no hope of the Nats winning it without a serious choke by the Mets.

    So at what point do the Nats admit this has been an unmitigated disaster and begin to make plans for the future. Part of that is starting Turner at SS for the month of September. It will be a low pressure chance to see whether he’s ready or decide that you need a season of Esco or Espi at short. Desi cannot pack his bags fast enough in my view, so I see no need to prolong the agony by letting him go 0 few and strike out 3 times a night for another month.

    I think the Nats have to start looking at Werth as a third base coaching prospect instead of a major league player. He will be 37 next year, hasn’t logged a healthy season since who knows when, is a liability on defence and may or may not ever be a decent offensive player again. I think they have to consider him expensive bench help and a veteran presence for the next couple seasons and go out and get an OF that will be a big bat in the lineup. Maybe Gio can be the trade piece that gets that guy.

    The best revenge for the most disappointing season in Nats history would be one where they bring home a WS title; the time to lay the ground work for that starts tomorrow.

    • nats106 - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      Sadly you are correct on many of your points regarding the serious shortcomings.

      That being said, they keep going with their best lineup here and now until they are eliminated. While I don’t think it’s realistic for them to overcome the hole they put themselves in, they owe it to the ownership, the fans, and most importantly themselves to play this one with a full and experienced deck, as imperfect as they are.

    • hummel26 - Aug 26, 2015 at 11:40 PM

      Can you imagine if they’d picked up CarGo from Colorado? Would have cost a good bit, but I think he’s under control for three years or so. Or if they’d rented Parra, Cespedes, or the OTHER CarGo who went to Houston? They needed someone who would give them a charge and wasn’t caught up in their malaise. There seem to be so many places where they lost a game or two, and if they had made the right personnel or managerial choices, they might be right there. The Mets are a team that’s finding themselves and having that end of the season run to the postseason. I think they’ll be hard to catch. Tonight was a big loss.

  5. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And in this marathon, they are now a mile back of the leader, with about six miles left.

    • npb99 - Aug 26, 2015 at 11:21 PM

      In just about any marathon that lead is insurmountable.

  6. hersheyman - Aug 26, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    Giving Escobar a green light on 3-0 with Zimmerman, your best clutch hitter and one who is fantastic in late-inning situations like the one in the bottom of the 7th, and someone whose been solid since coming back, is symptomatic of M Williams managing: POOR!

    They will have to take 5 of 6 from the Mets 6 to have any chance. Incredibly unlikely.

    • mauimo22 - Aug 27, 2015 at 11:43 AM

      Good to see MW finally lined up his best pitchers for the Mets series.
      I think he’s made enough mistakes to get gone after this season.

  7. lesatcsc - Aug 26, 2015 at 11:34 PM

    I have to think, fair or not, if this team does not make the playoffs, MW will pay with his job. Someone has to be accountable. This was the team to beat until it stepped on the field, Someone will have to pay the price for the championship season going awry. It won’t be Rizzo, so that leaves…

  8. Section 222 - Aug 26, 2015 at 11:42 PM

    A painful loss for sure. When that DP ball was hit, i felt like the season flashed before my eyes. We really needed this one, but fell short. Still, I don’t blame Esco for swinging 3-0 or MW for letting him. He’s been a great hitter this year, and had two hits already in the game. If he thought it was a good pitch to hit, that’s fine.

    Diving into first is another matter. Perhaps he thinks it shows maximum effort, but it’s been shown time and time again that it’s slower than running through the bag. Maybe he wouldn’t have made it, but that’s just not smart.

    At the end of the day, though, if you score 5 runs you should win. This loss was on Gio.

    We can’t survive too many more like this.

    • Section 222 - Aug 27, 2015 at 12:03 AM

      MMN is 31 with 36 to play.

    • npb99 - Aug 27, 2015 at 10:41 AM

      Yep, I was there and that DP sucked all the energy out of the team and the park. A big nail in this season’s coffin.

  9. Karl Kolchak - Aug 26, 2015 at 11:50 PM

    I just got home from the game, and the Escobar double play not withstanding, he simply KILLED the Nats in the field tonight. The miscue on the double play ball that ended up costing 4 runs was just part of it. It almost seemed like the Padres were TRYING to hit the ball his way, knowing that he has the range of an old refrigerator. If he doesn’t want to play 2B, fine–then bench him for Espinosa already. The defensive improvement would at least make up for the difference at the plate.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 27, 2015 at 12:47 AM

      Agreed that Escobar had a terrible night offensively and defensively. Swinging 3-0 was just blindingly stupid (and contrary to specific instructions – in section 311 we were clearly chanting “DO! NOT! SWING!”). Diving into first was just the icing of stupid on an already idiotic cake. On defense he not only made that ugly error (which would have been worse had Zim not sprinted off the bag to snare the errant throw), but at least three hits were baseballs past a leaning (twice) and diving (once) Escobar. He plays too shallow, and it’s a big reason why the Nats give up one of the worst BABIPs in all of baseball.

      • npb99 - Aug 27, 2015 at 7:57 AM

        I was in 311 last night too. Fun section, especially the guy who chanted N-A-T-S-I-am-drunk!

      • therealjohnc - Aug 27, 2015 at 2:58 PM

        The radio guy – he’s there all the time. Apparently attends a lot of Caps games, too, wearing Nats gear to the Caps games. Usually his schtick is to announce how many beers he’s going to drink after the game, with the number being in the thousands. Last night he switched to the hard stuff (whiskey and vodka). I guess the Nats drove him to it!

  10. umpiressuk - Aug 27, 2015 at 7:42 AM

    Why, oh why isn’t the best third baseman (Rendon) playing third base Mr. Williams?

    • mauimo22 - Aug 27, 2015 at 11:46 AM

      MW caters to his players “preferences”. Obviously Esco doesn’t want to play 2B.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

WLGB
NEW YORK9072
WASHINGTON83797.0
MIAMI719119.0
ATLANTA679523.0
PHILADELPHIA639927.0

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.

Follow us on Twitter