Yesterday’s home game against and Pirates revolved around the number two. The game had two home runs, two Presidential Race’s, two stretches, and two sets of nine innings– ending with a 2-1 Nationals loss.
Pirates stud Starling Marte hit a game winning home run in the top of the 18th to put the Pirates up one on the Nationals and Jon Niese spoiled out the Nationals comeback efforts in the bottom of the inning.
It should come as no surprise that Starling Marte was the one to put a stronghold on the game, as he has been an absolute force for the Pirates this season, slugging in 34 men with a .315 batting average. "Too many innings," Marte said. "We were tired. It was time for a home run." Marte’s empathetic moon ball landed deep into the empty bleachers of left field, blessing fans hoping to beat the rush hour traffic home. Marte went three for seven on the day.
The home run in the top of the 18th put the Pirates in familiar territory, as they had held a one run lead on the Nationals during regulation time. The play came in the top of the sixth as– you guessed it– Starling Marte doubled deep to left field to drive Adam Frazier to the plate.
The lead lasted until the bottom of the ninth when manager Dusty Baker sent big hitting Daniel Murphy up to the plate as a pinch hitter on his day off. As destiny had it, Murphy blasted a line drive home run well over the right field wall to extend the game.
“We almost knew it was going to happen,” said pitcher Max Scherzer when discussing Murphy’s blast. “As soon as he hit it, we were like ‘Yeah, we’re going to play 16 innings.’ We were wrong. We played 18.” The hit gave Murphy his 18th home run of the season and increased his batting average to .350.
The game ended in 18, but if not for Michael Taylor, the Pirates would have walked away with the victory two innings before. The play came when Josh Harrison hit a monstrous double off the center field wall and teammate Eric Fryer booked it home from first base. Nationals’ Taylor fielded the ball, launched it to shortstop Danny Espinosa who fired it home to catcher Wilson Ramos. Ramos caught the ball with ample time to readjust his body position and make the tag at the plate.
“Danny’s got a special arm,” Trea Turner said. “He’s shown it all year. That’s a huge play, once again gives us a chance to keep going. . . . I love watching plays like that because I think stuff like that goes unnoticed.”
Even Pirates manager Clint Hurdle commended the play. "How about the relay they had in the 16th inning?" He asked. "It's the best relay in the history of the game in the 16th inning. Ever."
The 18 inning defensive bloodbath needed 17 pitchers to complete the game. The game started with Max Scherzer on the mound for the home squad and Chad Kuhl for the visitors. Both pitchers asserted dominance early as it took six innings for the first man to touch home.
Scherzer struck out seven and gave up six hits and a run in his seven inning outing, ending in a no decision. The veteran is 10-6 on the season with a 2.94 ERA
Kuhl pitched six shutout innings, striking out five and giving up only one hit in the process. Kuhl’s had four MLB starts on the year after being moved up from the Indianapolis Indians. He boasts a 1-0 record.
Jonathon Niese was handed the win.
The 18 inning, six hour marathon of a game was the longest in Nationals history. The only other 18 inning game the team has played in also ended in defeat. The Nats have an off day today before facing the Dodgers at home on Tuesday.