Nats sweep Giants with walk-off win
The Washington Nationals came up with a unique way to win, picking up the game-ending run on a short-hopped throw to first in 1924 uniforms.
The NL East leaders completed a sweep of the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night, winning 6-5 when Adam LaRoche's would-be, inning-ending double-play grounder with the bases loaded was botched by shortstop Brandon Crawford's low throw.
"Not the way we drew it up, but we will take it," LaRoche said. "I was running as fast as I can — which isn't very fast — but it was good enough to put a little pressure on him."
It was throwback night in the nation's capital, and the "Senators" topped the "New York Giants" with a two-run rally off Santiago Casilla (2-4). Washington recovered from a four-run deficit and has won four straight and seven of nine.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Moore led off the ninth with a double to the gap in left-center. Casilla then failed to barehand Steve Lombardozzi's sacrifice, an error that put runners on first and third with none out. Bryce Harper singled in the tying run, and Ryan Zimmerman was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Michael Morse bounced into a forceout at home, and Zimmerman hoped against hope that the game wasn't headed to extra innings when he saw LaRoche hit the grounder to second.
"Hopefully Adam's fast enough. Well, actually, I know Adam's not fast enough. Hopefully they mess up," Zimmerman said with a laugh.
They messed up. The Giants got the first out at second base, but Crawford bounced the relay — and first baseman Brandon Belt couldn't come up with it.
"Those are the things that have happened to us this year," Zimmerman said. "We've had some opportunities and we've caught some breaks, and more importantly we've taken advantage of those breaks, and good teams do that."
Harper scored on the play, and the Nationals ran onto the field pretending as if they were deer, a preplanned celebration for any sort of game-ending play by LaRoche.
"I was going to shoot then with my bow," LaRoche said. "I think I got one before I got tackled."
Tyler Clippard (2-2) pitched the ninth to get the win for the Nationals, who scored 24 runs in the three-game series.
The home team went all-out to recreate the nostalgia of the '24 World Series, even though the game didn't feature both of the cities nor both of the franchises from the Series the Senators won in seven games. The Giants moved to the West Coast in 1958, and that version of the Senators (also called the Nationals) bailed for Minnesota in 1961. The current Nationals are the former Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington in 2005.
Still, it was a treat to see the Giants wearing the old pinstripe caps with the stylish NY logo, and the Nationals sporting a straight W instead of a curly one. Fans received an old-fashioned "official score card" from the "Washington Base Ball Club." The players wore stirrups, and the grounds crew donned suspenders. Charlie Brotman, the public address announcer for two Senators franchises, was back at the microphone, while the scoreboard showed replays in black and white.
The ball used for the ceremonial first pitch came from Game 6 of the '24 Series. Throwing it from the first row of the stands was Hank Thomas, grandson of Game 7 winner and Hall of Fame pitcher "Big Train" Walter Johnson.
One big difference: That Game 6 lasted one hour, 57 minutes. Thursday's game was just getting to the seventh inning at the two-hour mark.
It would have lasted longer — or at least had more scoring — if the Giants could get more bang for their buck. San Francisco needed 15 hits to scratch out its five runs and went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
"We probably should have had 10 runs today, and we didn't get it done there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You play a good team, and when you don't put them away and keep it close, things like this can happen."
Giants starter Matt Cain allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings and had a 5-1 lead before giving up back-to-back home runs to Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa in the seventh. It was after Desmond's homer that teenager Harper turned to LaRoche and said: "We're going to win this game."
"You know how Bryce gets," LaRoche said. "He gets fired up when stuff like that happens."
NOTES: Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez will have microdiscectomy surgery on his back next week and won't play this season. ... Harper didn't win the online balloting for the final NL All-Star roster spot. Told before the game that Harper was trailing, Washington manager Davey Johnson said: "Good. ... He could use the time off to catch his breath." ... Nationals RHP Drew Storen, recovering from a right elbow injury, threw one perfect inning in a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac.