THE RESULT: The Washington Nationals lost a perfectly winnable game last night due to a veteran pitcher that couldn't throw a strike, infield errors too numerous to count, a backup outfielder falling down on the base paths, and eight runners left on base with the Nats going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Oh, and the winning pitcher for the Colorado Rockies didn't throw a single pitch.
It was a fairly normal game until the eighth inning. Sure, Jordan Zimmermann wasn't sharp, giving up seven hits and four walks in just four innings. And he certainly would have fared better if Willie Harris, starting again at second base, hadn't tried to field a ground ball in the fourth inning with his, um, private area.
But as it was, the game was tied entering the top of the eighth.
With two outs, forgotten man Austin Kearns pinch-hit for reliever Sean Burnett (two innings, one hit, no walks).
Kearns laced a single through the hole on the right side. Colorado manager Jim Tracy called upon veteran left-hander Alan Embree to face Nyjer Morgan. Kearns broke on a steal attempt, and instead of throwing home, Embree went to first. Kearns then, incredibly, just fell down in the middle of the base path and was tagged out after a short run down.
So then to the bottom of the inning. Julian Tavarez struck out Chris Iannetta to start off, but then gave four straight balls to rookie Carlos Gonzalez, hitting all of .197. Seth Smith pinch-hit for Embree, and drew a five-pitch walk. Acta had seen enough.
"I am very patient, but my patience runs out when there's a veteran run who's not throwing strikes," Acta said later.
Joe Beimel came in, and on his second pitch he got Ryan Spilborghs to bounce back to the pitcher for a tailor-made, inning ending double play.
Only Cristian Guzman, who earlier failed to field a ground ball that hit his shin, was late getting to second base, and Beimel double-clutched, sending the ball to Harris, who was in short center field backing up the play. All hands were safe, and the next batter lofted a run-scoring sacrifice for the game-winner.
THE TAKEAWAY: I blame TV play-by-play man Bob Carpenter. Earlier in the game, he noted how the team defense was much better "due to better starting pitching", whatever that means. Regardless, Cristian Guzman was absolutely terrible last night, committing his 12th error of the season and contributing to Beimel's throwing error in the pivotal eighth.
Gotta hand it to thet Nats, though. It wasn't boring.
THE GOOD: Ryan Zimmerman. Actually, it was a mixed bag for Zim, as he hit his 14th home run of the year, a three-run shot, that put the Nats up 4-1 at that point. But he also ground into two more double plays, giving him 14 of those on the season as well.
THE BAD: Adam Dunn. 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
THE UGLY: Julian Tavarez. He's now 3-7 on the season.
NEXT GAME: Today, the finale of the three-game series with Colorado, at 3:10 pm EDT. Ross Detwiler (0-4, 5.81) tries to play stopper against Jorge De La Rosa (5-7, 5.14).
NOTES: Jesus Colome rejected his outright assignment to Triple-A Syracuse and elected free agency. Via con dios, Jesus.