If you have read the game recap of last night's 5-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, you may have been frustrated to see that I excluded a full breakdown of last night's chaotic eighth inning. The half-inning was so out of control for the Nationals that I had to give it it's own post.
For those of you who missed it, here's a quick recap:
The Nationals entered the top of the 8th down 2-1, easily within striking distance of the Reds. Tyler Walker came into the game to relieve Atilano and proceeded to give up a no-out double to Orlando Cabrera and then a single to Brandon Phillips to score the runner. Now, down 3-1, Riggleman brought in Sean Burnett to face the lefty Joey Votto. Worried about the runner at first, Burnett worked from the stretch with a keen eye on Phillips, and not enough of one on the plate. As a result his first throw was a wild pitch.
Phillips who got a great break on the ball decided try for third, attempting to pick up two bases on the passed ball. While Nieves' throw from the backstop beat the runner to third, and Zimmerman applied the tag, Phillips was ruled safe as a result of runner interference on shortstop Ian Desmond. Outraged by the call, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman sprinted out to third base to protest, and was eventually ejected from the game.
Burnett walked the current batter Joey Votto, giving the Reds runners on first and third with no outs in a 3-1 ball game. Scott Rolen then hit a sharp ground ball to the second base side of Ian Desmond. Instead of attempting to turn two, Desmond fired the ball to the plate in a throw that beat Phillips by only two steps. Phillips proceeded to barrel over Nieves causing him to drop the ball, Phillips was safe at the plate. Upon his walk back to the dugout, the confident middle infielder pounded his chest and stomped on the plate as if to show up the Washington club.
After striking out Johnny Gomes, Burnett allowed a single to Jay Bruce which scored Joey Votto and pushed the Reds lead to 5-1.
Breaking it Down:
The decision to bring in Tyler Walker in a close game is one that some may question, however the bottom line is that if the Nationals do want to be competitive they will need to have more than three pitchers they can throw in close game situations. Riggleman tried to expand his effective bullpen last night, but perhaps was shown that there are just some people he can't rely on.
The wild pitch by Sean Burnett was just poor form, especially for a lefty that by now should be very accustomed to pitching with runners on base.