Breaking down what I Liked / Didn’t Like about the Nationals two-game stand in the Bronx.
Game 1: 6-1 loss on Tuesday night (June 9)
Game 2: 5-4 11-inning win on Wednesday afternoon (June 10)
What I liked:
1. The Big Four – The Nats’ four best hitters this season have been Bryce Harper, Yunel Escobar, Danny Espinosa and Denard Span. Those four players combined for 12 of the Nats’ 17 hits in the series.
Harper had a solo homer and a double in Game 1 and a single and a walk in Game 2.
Escobar had a double and a single in Game 1 and a single in Game 2.
Espoinosa had a solo homer, a double and a single in Game 2.
Span did not play in Game 1 due to back spasms but had an RBI infield single in the top of the 11th, an RBI double, another single and a stolen base in Game 2.
2. Michael Taylor’s pinch game-tying two-run homer in the top of the eighth of Game 2 – Taylor has been far from great at the plate this season, but he has homered in the big spot: each of his five homers has tied a game or given the Nats a lead.
3. Gio Gonzalez’s start in Game 2 – Gio tossed six scoreless innings before running into trouble in the seventh, officially allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Gio has lasted for seven official innings just twice over 12 starts this season, but he has been good in three of his last four starts.
4. Max Scherzer’s start in Game 1 – Scherzer allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings but deserved a better fate, as three of the runs came in the Yankees’ four-run seventh and thanks to an Ian Desmond throwing error and a two-run single given up by Matt Thornton. Scherzer recorded seven strikeouts versus one walk, though he did allow eight hits.
What I didn’t like:
1. Ryan Zimmerman’s horrific slump – Zimmerman went 0-for-4 in Game 1, dropping him to 4-for-his-last-46. He has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and did not play in Game 2.
2. More inconsistency from the bullpen – The Nats gave up four runs in the bottom of the seventh of each game. Thornton and Taylor Hill struggled in Game 1. Felipe Rivero and Aaron Barrett struggled in Game 2. Casey Janssen, Blake Treinen and Drew Storen did combine for four scoreless innings in Game 2.
3. Desmond’s throwing error in the Yankees’ four-run seventh in Game 1 – With two outs and runners on first and second in a one-all game, Desmond made a diving backhanded catch of a groundball by Alex Rodriguez but then made an errant throw to third, allowing Ramon Flores to score. Matt Williams said that Desmond should have thrown to first, and while that may have been the safer play, I didn’t think that Desmond was dead wrong for throwing to third. An underrated aspect of the play was Anthony Rendon’s positioning, as he was straddling the third-base line. If Rendon is more on the left-field side of the bag, Desmond has a better target and perhaps makes a better throw for what was, remember, a force out.
4. Harper’s decision to bunt with two strikes in Game 1 – Harper, leading off the top of the seventh with the score tied at one, bunted foul for a strikeout. Yes, the infield was back. Yes, he has the speed to leg out an infield single. But he has been the single best batter in the majors this season. He had homered and doubled earlier in the game. Harper had no business bunting with two strikes, especially in a circumstance in which one swing could have given the Nats the lead.