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September 4, 2014 / Nat Anacostia

Comments on yesterday’s 14-inning marathon

Here are a few random thoughts on yesterday’s 14 inning, 8–5 victory over the Dodgers:

  • I was only able to watch the last couple of innings, heard a couple more innings on the radio, and followed some of the play by play on my phone. When I first heard about Jayson Werth dropping the fly ball in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game, my first thought was “why wasn’t Michael Taylor playing right field as a defensive substitute?” One reason, of course, is that Mike Rizzo hadn’t called up Taylor—I just sort of assumed that he had. But if I were managing the Nationals, in September I’d want to have a defensive substitute in there for Werth anytime the Nats had a lead in the 9th inning. Werth isn’t an awful fielder (and when I finally saw the replay, it was clear that the sun, and not Werth’s fielding ability, was mostly responsible for the missed catch), but still Werth now has below average range and has a lot of aches and pains, so I’d want to use a defensive substitute pretty regularly in September. If not Taylor, then Eury Perez or Jeff Kobernus or someone with better range.
  • In the top of the 11th, I thought it was really weird that Matt Williams asked Asdrubal Cabrera to sacrifice after Adam LaRoche led off the inning with a hit by pitch. I mean, Cabrera is clearly a much better hitter than the two guys following him—Sandy Leon and Kevin Frandsen, so why not take your best chance letting Cabrera swing away?
  • I was surprised that Jerry Blevins was called on to pitch a full inning in the bottom of the 11th, but after tracking through the play by play, I see how Matt Williams got to the point that he had to use him. If he had know that the game would go 14 innings, it obviously would have made more sense to use Blevins to get the last two outs in the 7th and ask Matt Thornton to pitch the 11th, but of course Williams couldn’t have known that. Fortunately, Blevins’ LOOGY skills enabled him to get the final two outs, but that was a tough inning. I’d hope that for the rest of this year Blevins would rarely be called upon to face right handers in high leverage situations.
  • Although the run that Rafael Soriano gave up in his blown save was unearned, he did walk Ethier to put on the tying run. Rizzo missed his chance to significantly upgrade the bullpen at the trade deadline, and I have a growing sense of dread about the Nats’ bullpen and the post season.
  • A few years ago, someone did an article using some type of sabermetric measure to identify the most exciting games played during the season. I don’t really remember the metric, but it may have been something like adding up the absolute value of the win probability added. I’d guess that this game would rank among the top 5 or 10 games of the year using that type of metric. Plus, these were two playoff-bound teams that were treating it as a dry run for a post-season showdown. It was quite a game.



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