For the Washington Nationals, Tuesday was an emotional whirlwind to say the least.
After making six different roster moves that saw some key players leave and others return, Washington still had a game to play against the New York Mets, which they won in walk-off fashion. Mets Closer Bobby Parnell only recorded one out in the ninth, allowing a double to Ryan Zimmerman before uncorking a wild pitch, which got Zimmerman to third, and then later scoring to tie it.
Steve Lombardozzi ended up being the hero, skying a walk-off sac fly to left to score the winning run. Lombardozzi started the game at second, replacing the newly DL’d Danny Espinosa.
So, after one game, yes, one game, let’s play ‘instant analyst’: did these moves pay off for the Nationals after one game?
Well, maybe. An example of this could be Lombardozzi being in the lineup over Espinosa. Lombardozzi is batting .281/.257/.406 with RISP with 13 RBIs in 2013. That line handily trumps Espinosa’s .188/.206/.438 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Lombardozzi was also 1-for-3 with the game-winning RBI and a strikeout, while Espinosa’s last game with a hit came on May 29, when he was 1-for-4. Espinosa went on the DL hitless in his last 17 at-bats.
Now, another interesting dynamic to this is that Lombardozzi could have been in the lineup in left field, where Roger Bernadina started and went 0-for-3 in.
Perhaps instead of Parnell intentionally walking Bernadina to get to Lombardozzi, he intentionally walks Lombardozzi to get to Espinosa, who may have done the same thing Lombardozzi did. Or, he could have hit into a double play or struck out, and perhaps the game goes to extra innings. Luckily, all that is “what if” and not what happened.
Another interesting idea is Tyler Clippard pitching the top of the ninth inning. Now, with the Nationals down by a run in the ninth, perhaps Davey Johnson goes to the recently DFA’d Henry Rodriguez, who may have allowed some walks, and perhaps a hit and a run; but Clippard ended up pitching a perfect inning with a strikeout, giving Washington every opportunity to win the game, which they did in exciting fashion.
Sure, Washington’s offense went dormant aside from Ian Desmond‘s HR, but this game could be a turning point for Washington. The bottom line is this: changed needed to be made, and for one night, they paid off.