Well that’s something one doesn’t expect to see every day.
The Nationals sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the first game of today’s doubleheader against the Braves. Then Mike Minor settled down and didn’t allow another run through the sixth. The Braves scored runs in the sixth and seventh to bring it to 3-2.
In the top of the eighth inning Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer off Tyler Clippard. Braves up 4-3. An Ian Desmond error in the ninth gave Atlanta another run and a 5-3 lead. With Craig Kimbrel waiting to come in. Game over, right?
Wrong. Here’s what Kimbrel did:
- Issued a walk to Adam LaRoche
- Allowed an infield single to Wilson Ramos
- Issued a walk to Anthony Rendon
- Allowed a run-scoring groundout to Chad Tracy, making it 5-4
- Induced a ground ball to short that went right through Andrelton Simmons’ wickets to allow the tying and winning runs to score.
Let me repeat: the shortstop who may be having the best defensive season in baseball history had one go right between the pipes. The closer who had never given up three runs in 225 major league appearances gave up three runs. And with that the game was lost.
Kimbrel was bound to blow a save eventually. Simmons is not going to make every play. But boy howdy, you’d not make a lot of money betting on that outcome happening very often. Heck, you’d make more money selling unicorn pelts.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.