Everything was fine until it wasn’t, which is how being walked-off for a closer goes.
The Nationals went into the bottom of the ninth with a three-run lead against the Braves. A pair of two-run home runs against Daniel Hudson flushed the night into a 7-6 loss. They are 8-12.
There’s rarely a good explanation. How do you justify giving up four runs before you can get three outs? You can’t. It’s a compilation of nastiness, things that go wrong big and small. The closer’s life is a nuclear ride. Night after night throwing fastballs by people, slapping five, starting the congratulatory postgame line. Then the one catastrophic event hits.
“It stings,” Hudson said. ”A three-run lead in the ninth inning should be game over. That’s not always the case. It’s baseball. It’s probably going to sting the rest of the night, but life of a reliever, you really can’t let it bug you too long. It’s one of those things where you wake up tomorrow and try to clear it. Come to the ballpark tomorrow and if they call your name again, be ready to go.”
Davey Martinez said he didn’t have any managerial regrets. Tanner Rainey and Will Harris were able to hang on before Hudson entered in the ninth. But, Martinez and Hudson agree on the biggest problem of his downfall, a yanked slider that hit Nick Markakis in a 2-2 count.
“It started with trying to do too much with the slider to Markakis,” Hudson said.
It did. Adam Duvall’s homer followed. Dansby Swanson hit the celebratory fly ball four batters later. Hudson left the mound.
The Nationals lamented a deep fly ball by Juan Soto that was an out instead of a grand slam earlier in the game. A line drive by Luis García, who hit his first career home run Monday, was snagged at third base for an unassisted double play in the third. Aníbal Sánchez was again mediocre.
That all preceded Hudson’s flop at the end. His ERA rocketed to 7.88 because of the bad outing. He remains the closer, ready to pitch again Tuesday, with a manager ready to put him back out there. They’re happy to try it again shortly after discarding this night.
“One of those games,” Martinez said.