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Orioles 4, Nats 3: Machado delivers clutch homer off Scherzer

Sep 23, 2015, 10:09 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Knowing his team has reached a point where it all but has to win every remaining game on the schedule, Matt Williams asked his ace to do something extraordinary. Max Scherzer couldn’t quite do it, and so the Nationals lost yet another game via a huge hit allowed in the seventh inning. And that only set up some more fireworks later than may have brought some new life to this interleague rivalry.

Scherzer was electric most of the night, striking out 12. But he was done in by a pair of homers, one allowed early, one allowed late. Steve Pearce’s 2-run shot in the top of the first gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Then Manny Machado’s 2-run blast in the seventh (on Scherzer’s 122nd pitch of the night) gave Baltimore a 4-3 lead that altered the course of the game.

The Nationals couldn’t overcome that deficit. They got one run back off Chris Tillman in the bottom of the first, then two more in the bottom of the fifth, but couldn’t deliver another hit that would have brought them back.

The real fireworks came in the top of the ninth, when Jonathan Papelbon twice threw up-and-in to Machado, plunking the Orioles third baseman with his second offering. Plate umpire Mark Ripperger immediately ejected Papelbon, prompting both benches to empty (though nothing remotely close to a brawl ensued).

Of more concern, the Nationals wasted a second straight opportunity to pick up a critical game in the standings after the Mets lost again to the Braves. The deficit remains 6 1/2 games with 11 to play, New York’s magic number now down to 5.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: The Orioles haven’t gone after Bryce Harper much at all in this series; they’ve walked him five times in two nights. But the MVP favorite had a chance to swing away when leading off the eighth with the Nats down a run against right-hander Mychael Givens. So what did Harper do? He squared around to bunt a 1-1 pitch, fouling it off. Givens then struck him out on the next pitch. Harper likes to square around on occasion, especially against tough lefties, but that situation screamed for him to swing away and try to tie the game on his own.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Scherzer’s pitch count was at 104 when he took the mound for the seventh, trying to protect a 3-2 lead. He gave up a quick double to J.J. Hardy but then buckled down and struck out Jimmy Paredes on a 98-mph fastball before getting Gerardo Parra to ground out. His starter’s pitch count now at 117, Williams had to make the kind of decision that has faced him all season: Leave Scherzer in to face Machado with the game on the line, or ask one of his beleaguered relievers (in this case, Casey Janssen) to get the job done? He stuck with Scherzer, who on his 122nd pitch reached back to find 98 mph again but left it over the plate and watched as Machado launched it into the Red Porch for the go-ahead homer. It was the 17th homer Scherzer has allowed in 80 innings since the All-Star break. And the pitch count of 122 was the largest for a Nationals starter since Edwin Jackson threw 123 on Aug. 30, 2012.

KEY STAT: Bryce Harper has reached base 290 times this season, most by any Washington major leaguer since Frank Howard (294 in 1970).

UP NEXT: This year’s Battle of the Beltways wraps up at 4:05 p.m. Thursday, a day later than originally scheduled thanks to a rainout. Tanner Roark (4-6, 4.73) starts for the Nationals against right-hander Tyler Wilson (2-2, 3.72).

  1. Danny - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:14 PM

    Play Turner

    • lesatcsc - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:57 PM

      Absolutely. I’ve seen enough of Desmond to last a lifetime and we need to see where Turner is at in his development.

  2. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:17 PM

    One word describes the 2015 Nationals: soft. Watch the Orioles ON the field after Papelbon hit Machado. And watch the Nats cower in their dugout.

    The Nats are a pathetic franchise from top to bottom.

  3. janebeard - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:19 PM

    Ok. Now I’m just rooting for the Mets to clinch BEFORE we get there. Imagining them celebrating in our faces is too much.

    • lesatcsc - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:59 PM

      Maybe its what this under-achieving team needs, to watch another team celebrate right in front of them. This team has lacked fire all season. Maybe they should be there to buy the drinks while the Mets book them tee times.

  4. robertrobert104 - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:31 PM

    Matt Williams is an ass. 122 pitches for Scherzer is way too much, this is september, pitchers are a little tired at this time, even the most stupid guy on earth knows that, but not Williams…There’s a reason why the Nats are out of the playoffs, and it is not because of the many many injuries they had. I strongly believe that the poor management of Williams is the main reason why this team is at almost .500. And more and more people are saying it. So if the Nats wants to win, they will have to get rid of Williams. Period.

    • sec112 - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      I guess his exhaustion is what kept that fastball down at only 98 miles an hour.

      • pchuck69 - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:05 PM

        98 right over the middle of the plate. Poor location is just as big an indication of exhaustion as speed.

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      Dude, you’re kind of arguing with yourself. At this point I doubt there are many Nats fans would would disagree with the notion that Williams should be canned.

      The question now is: should Rizzo join him on the unemployment line for putting together such a flawed roster–especially the horrid bullpen, the (mis)management of which has dramatically exposed just how bad a manager Williams really is.

  5. Karl Kolchak - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    You gotta hand to the Orioles for being smart enough to know that not giving Harper many pitches to hit is the way to short circuit the Nats’ offense. The 5th inning was case in point–with 2 outs it is much better to pitch to Werth with the bases loaded than Bryce with runners on first and second.

    • hersheyman - Sep 23, 2015 at 10:59 PM

      Agreed.

      Contrast that to M Williams, who would never have the wisdom to think like that. Prime example: with Hardy on 3rd in the 7th, walk Machado and Davis to get to Weiters (248 hitter). Dont let there big bats beat you. Not M Williams – again, no thinking outside the box. He’s def a goner after the season.

    • IsawTeddywin - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:05 PM

      Actually, Werth batting .333 with bases loaded, Harp bats .167 with men on 1st and 2nd

      • lesatcsc - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:12 PM

        How many outs did Werth make tonight? He was Mr Clutch all night, NOT. If he’s hitting .333 with the base loaded, what’s he hitting when the bases aren’t loaded? Something less than the Mendoza line and something any major league manager is going to be willing to take a chance on. Worked pretty well for the Orioles tonight.

    • lesatcsc - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:07 PM

      I”m not sure smart is fair in this instance. Look at the Nats lineup, they have one, count em, one guy, a journeyman first baseman, hitting over .250 from the fourth spot on down. You would have to be an idiot to throw Bryce a strike with absolutely no threats following him in the order. They have nothing after Bryce until you get to Rendon again. Hell, I would walk him 100% of the time in every situation because I think you can bet the farm that the rest of the order is such garbage that your 17 year high school pitcher making his first major league appearance can cruise thought them. Who is there to be afraid of? Werth .228, Desmond .232 and a million strikeouts, Ramos, .232, Taylor, 2.35? Nope, smart is giving them too much credit, obvious is what pitching around Bryce is.

  6. lesatcsc - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:00 PM

    How many hundred million did they pay a guy that gives up a home run every fourth inning, and usually after he has walked someone to maximize the runs he’s giving up? And for how many years? Hmmm. If a 12-12 guy is worth $210M, how much is David Price worth?

  7. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:02 PM

    Today at 7pm, 90 minutes after I arrived at the park and couldn’t do anything about it, I got an email from the Nats, telling me the points I used to attend the rained-out 21 September game against Baltimore, have now been returned to my Red Carpet Rewards account, and could only be used for merchandise.

    Until I got the email, I planned to attend the 4:05 game tomorrow, since my main RCR game was rained out. Now I am told I can’t go to the game, but I can use my RCR points for ancient bobbleheads of long-departed players.

    It really is time all of us acknowledged one thing: the entire Nationals enterprise is conducted to enrich the Nationals, and nothing more.

    I will not attend tomorrow, as I had planned. I will not use my remaining points for “merchandise.” The Nats win all around.

    Except on the field.

    • senators5 - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:26 PM

      And you are surprised? Certainly hope not because pro sports is business first and the fans be damned. Don’t believe it?…ask the loyal Redskins season ticket holders, which by the way, is shrinking while I write this.

      • naterialguy - Sep 24, 2015 at 8:45 AM

        That’s BS. The Nats actually make it very affordable compared to all the other sports franchises and most college sports as well in the area.
        You can bring in your own food and water, and you can get tickets for $10.
        Cheaper than going to the movies.

    • trfwans - Sep 24, 2015 at 12:02 AM

      Do you still have the ticket you used on Monday night? That’s your raincheck. I would be willing to bet that it will get you into the game tomorrow. If the barcode won’t scan, they’ll call over a supervisor who will take one look at the ticket and let you in.

      Or you could call your account rep and raise a stink. There’s no reason they shouldn’t honor your rain check for that game, no matter how you obtained the ticket in the first place. You shouldn’t just assume you’re bring screwed here just because they gave your points back. Maybe they were doing you a favor, and now you’ve got the game AND the points.

    • jfmii - Sep 24, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      Who cares? First world problem sounds like to me.

  8. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2015 at 11:31 PM

    Senators5: you are right. I shouldn’t be surprised. The point of the entire enterprise is to extract every possible dollar from all of us. The enterprise has no other purpose.

    Thank you.

    • sec112 - Sep 24, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      Actually, your tickets are still good for today AND they gave you your points back in recognition of the fact that a 4:05 game on a weekday might not be what you would have used your points on if you had the choice. So I’d say that’s going beyond what’s necessary – they had no obligation to return the points – and is good customer service. You (and I) can be frustrated with the way the team has played, but at least in this case, we should give the organization credit for doing the right thing.

      • naterialguy - Sep 24, 2015 at 10:26 AM

        Hey breakbad seemed to have disapeared. Good news is just hard for some to accept I guess

  9. golfersal - Sep 24, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    This is the culmination of our year. Stick a fork in the Nats, they are well done and finished for the year, the seventh inning homerun has ended our season.

  10. naterialguy - Sep 24, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    This game didn’t ruin our season. There are approximately 1/3 of our losses that were very winnable. I would say you coup pin those losses equally divided by injuries, poor pitching, and bad management decisions.
    We had enough talent to squeeze by with two of those misfortunes but not all three.
    I truly believe MW will learn a lot from this year and be a better mgr in 2016.
    I truly believe our injury situation will be better next year (due in part because the team will be younger)
    And I truly believe our pitching will be better (if for no other reason than I don’t think the bullpen can blow as many games again)
    So, unlike many here have forecast gloom and doom for this franchise moving forward, I expect us to remain being a contending team for many years to come.
    Even as bad as this season has been, we have remained in contention well into September, and in baseball you really can’t ask for much more than that. (well you can ask, but you should never expect it)

    • jfmii - Sep 24, 2015 at 9:57 AM

      Don’t be silly, naterialguy. We all know Williams, Rizzo, Werth and Zimmerman must go. And we know the Nationals need to reconfigure into a non-profit organization to make their angry fans feel better about spending all their hard-earned money watching the Nationals lose.

      • NatsNut - Sep 24, 2015 at 12:51 PM

        Don’t say “we all” please. Because “we all” dont believe that for a second.

  11. raleighnat - Sep 24, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    What a waste. Can’t blame Scherzer’s effort but darn.

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