"I don't know how Dougie [Eddings, the second base umpire] saw that play out there. I guess he was eating his carrots today." -- Nyjer Morgan, on the reversal of a strikeout in the fifth inning.
THE RESULT: Second base umpire Doug Eddings overruled home plate umpire Hunter Wendlestadt, turning a strikeout by Garrett Mock into a foul ball. Carlos Gonzalez blooped the next pitch down the left field line for a double, the Colorado Rockies scored two, two-out runs, and defeated the Washington Nationals 4-1, before 18,036 sweaty Nats fans.
Gonzalez tipped a 1-2 pitch from Mock, and Wendelstadt ruled that catcher Josh Bard caught it for strike three. As the Nats were jogging off field, Eddings called everyone back, ruling from his double-play position that the ball skipped in the dirt before Bard caught it, to the dismay of manager Jim Riggleman, who argued vociferously to no avail.
There could have been no resolution other than the run-scoring hit on the next pitch.
"When I got to second base, I asked the umpire," Gonzalez related, "and he said he could see the mark in the dirt."
"I think the umpire made the right call," Mock (L, 2-5, 5.10) said. "But regardless of whether he makes the right call or the wrong call, that's not for me to argue or get rattled about."
Colorado got its second run courtesy of Mock's wild pitch to the next batter.
Mock's day ended with the eventual conclusion of the fifth inning, after 91 pitches. He allowed just those two earned runs on three hits and two walks. He struck out eight in five innings.
For all the excitement, it was just a 2-0 deficit. But the Nats bats on this occasion could not get their starter off the hook.
Rockies starter Jason Hammel (W, 8-7, 4.54) was just as good as Mock. He went seven innings, and gave up just one earned run on three hits and two walks, striking out three.
Jason Bergmann, called upon in the eighth inning, couldn't hold the deficit to one run. He gave up two straight two-out hits to the middle of Colorado's order, resulting in a lead the Nats could not dent in their last two trips to the plate.
THE TAKEAWAY: Washington managed just four hits and two walks against the Colorado Thursday night, and the streaking Rockies find themselves just 3.5 games back of the Dodgers at this point.
Right or wrong, the Nationals probably see a lot of themselves in the way Colorado picked themselves up after dismissing former manager Clint Hurdle early in the season, replacing him with old-school manager Jim Tracy, much as the Nats have played better with Jim Riggleman of late.
Whether that improvement is resultant, coincidental, or just regression to the statistically probable, we don't know. One thing we do know is that under Riggleman, the Nats are one streaky team.
They have had winning streaks of four, eight and three games, and losing streaks of five, four, three since the all-star break and currently are stalled in a three-game losing streak.
THE GOOD: Sean Burnett. He went two and one-third innings of perfect relief, striking out three.
THE BAD: Jason Bergmann. He got one out and gave up two runs on two hits.
THE UGLY: Two more errors, one each on Elijah Dukes and Cristian Guzman.
NEXT GAME: The Nationals start a wraparound, four-game weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at 7:05 PM at Nationals Park. J.D. Martin (2-2, 4.61) hosts Braden Looper (10-6, 5.03).
NOTES: Washington will introduce first overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg to the media and fans today at 2:00 PM at Nats Park. The Nats are offering $1 tickets to folks willing to go to the box office between noon and 2:00 PM today, and all fans are invited to the conference, a Q&A with team officials following, and watch the Nats batting practice from the stands.