The umpires reviewed it and properly overturned it to a grand slam, a significant early body blow to Lohse and the Cardinals. And then they made all the Nationals’ runners go back to the bases they’d started at and run the play again. The dugout pleaded with him to fake a swing, Yadier Molina told him the same.
Morse stood in the box, the sheer ridiculousness of the act not lost on him, and pantomimed his swing to put the runners in motion. He smacked himself on the helmet between first and second, as he does on every home run and when he finally made it back to the dugout his teammates were there ready to finally greet him.
“It was just such a crazy moment,” Morse said, his highlight reel playing in the background on the clubhouse televisions. “Might as well have some fun with it.”
It was all the scoring the Nationals would put together until Suzuki came to the plate in the 10th. They struck out 13 times and had just one extra-base hit from innings two through nine. But Adam LaRoche walked to leadoff the 10th inning and Roger Bernadina promptly bunted him over. With Danny Espinosa due up, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opted to walk to the second baseman.
Suzuki, who has hit .322 and driven in 20 runs out of the No. 8 spot in the Nationals’ lineup over the past 27 games, got felt his adrenaline pulse as Espinosa trotted to first base.
“That kind of lights a fire under you,” Suzuki said, his offensive rejuvenation since arriving in Washington one of their biggest pluses the past few weeks. “Not that you don’t go up there with a fire under you anyway, but especially in that situation, they want to pitch to you. So you want to go up there and make them pay.”
“He’s been outstanding,” Johnson said. “It seems like the last 10 games, he’s been swinging a hot bat and getting big hits, maybe longer than that. I really like his approach. He’s a gamer, he likes those situations. That was huge.”
Jordan Zimmermann gave them six strong innings before he began to struggle with one out in the seventh, giving up three straight hits and walking David Freese before his night was over — allowing the Cardinals to make it a game with three runs in the frame. Back-to-back singles in the ninth and a sacrifice fly allowed them to tie it off Storen.
When it was over, the Nationals had bent – giving the Cardinals a glimmer of hope and certainly forcing the hearts of their own fanbase to flutter a little faster — but they did not break. They did not falter entirely on this night. They made sure that the promise of tomorrow was in their hands. Win, and they’re in.
“You don’t have a bad taste in your mouth after tonight,” Storen said. “I think we showed a lot and we showed what good teams do, that’s bounce back and battle through the adversity. It’s ours to take tomorrow. We’re going to lace it up and try to get it done.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
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