GAME IN A NUTSHELL: There’s nothing more harrowing for the Nationals these days than a close ballgame in the seventh inning, a frame that more than any other has left this underachieving ballclub on the precipice of elimination. But when they actually strung together a rally in the bottom of the seventh this afternoon, turning a 1-run deficit to the Orioles into a 1-run lead, they might just have flipped the script at long last.
Well, until the eighth inning arrived and made the seventh-inning rally moot. Blake Treinen, entrusted to protect that 1-run lead in the eighth, couldn’t even do it for two batters. The right-hander immediately allowed a single to Steve Pearce and then a towering home run to Matt Wieters that turned that 1-run lead right back into a 1-run deficit.
So it was that the Nationals lost yet another game having blown a late lead. They were swept by the Orioles and now trail the Mets by 7 games with 10 to play. This loss also officially eliminated them from the NL wild card race.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: It looked like it would be a monumental blast for Wilson Ramos, whose seventh-inning homer off Chaz Roe tied the game and brought some life back to the ballpark. The ball landed in the second-to-last row of the left-field bleachers, nearly reaching the concourse, measured at 430 feet. That’s one of only a handful of balls to be hit that far to that part of Nationals Park since it opened in 2008. Alas, it was but a footnote by the end of this game.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: He’s not the only member of the Nationals’ rotation to be victimized by the home run ball this season, but Tanner Roark has been among those most victimized by it. And today’s game was only the latest example. The big blow off the right-hander was a 2-run homer by Jonathan Schoop, who sent a 1-0 fastball soaring over the center-field wall and onto the grass batter’s eye. It was the 15th homer allowed by Roark in only 98 1/3 innings this season, a rate of 1.4 homer per nine innings that has doubled his rate allowed last year. Roark also has failed to reach the sixth inning in any of his last five starts. He hasn’t thrown more than 82 pitches in any of those outings.
KEY STAT: Bryce Harper went 0-for-6 with seven walks in this series, the first time this season he has gone three consecutive games without recording a hit.
UP NEXT: The Phillies come to town for a weekend series that begins at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Jordan Zimmermann (13-8, 3.49) makes what will likely be his final home start with the Nationals in the opener, with right-hander Jerad Eickhoff starting for Philadelphia.
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