Friday, October 12, 2012

Nats Force Game 5

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Jayson Werth jumps on home plate following his walk-off home run. (Photo: dbking)
With the series, and season, on the line, the Nationals turned to a pitcher that was at one point removed from the lineup. Ironically, he's the same pitcher that replaced Stephen Strasburg in the postseason rotation.

Through six innings with not a single run was earned, one was a sac-fly, Ross Detwiler delivered possibly the best performance of his life.

Over six innings, Detwiler gave up just one run (unearned) and three hits. He walked three, including Pete Kozas to setup the Cardinals only run which was scored on a Carlos Beltran sac-fly, and struck out three. Simply put, it was the best start of Detwiler's young career.

His adversary, Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, was just as solid. He allowed just two hits. One, however, came on a solo home run to center field from Adam LaRoche in the second inning. Lohse also struck out five Nationals.

But, prior to the bottom of the ninth inning, the star(s) of the game was the National pitching staff. Detwiler made it all the way through the sixth inning allowing just one run and that's when Davey Johnson handed the game over to his bullpen.

The first pitcher in the game was game two's starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann had arguably the best stuff of his season as he struck out the side on just 12 pitches. Tyler Clippard then came in for the eighth inning and kept the K-streak alive. Clippard allowed just one base runner, a walk, and struck out three in his inning of work.

The top of the ninth, and the 1-1 tie, belonged to Drew Storen. Like Clippard, Storen allowed a baserunner with a walk, but battled to strike out  two. The third out came on a ground-out and the game went to the bottom of the ninth.

When outfielder Jayson Werth stepped to the plate to leadoff the ninth for the Nationals, he had yet to collect a hit. During the season, Werth ranked fourth in the MLB for most pitches seen during an at bat. Last night, Werth had the at bat of his Nationals career.

Werth finally connected with the 13th pitch he saw and put it in the Cardinals bullpen for the walk off home run. It was the 14th home run of his playoff career. Drew Storen was credited with the win.

The Nationals had just three hits on the game, yesterday, but two of them were home runs. The only other National to collect a hit yesterday was Ryan Zimmerman.

Yesterday was an example of what the Nationals are capable of. Ross Detwiler is the bottom of the rotation starter and is only pitching in the post-season because Stephen Strasburg was shutdown. The bullpen showed us all that they still got it after not giving up a hit and striking out 8 over three shutout innings.

The only left is for the bats to pick up. The Nationals have struggled mightily this post-season offensively. If they want to have success tonight, they'll need to find a way to get the offense going.

Last night, however, all they needed was two two-run homers to win the game. Tonight, it's game five at Nationals Park and Gio Gonzalez will be facing Adam Wainwright. First pitch is at 8:37 PM EST.

Check back here on The Skinny On Sports prior to tonight's game for my game five preview!

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