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You saw the homer, but you might have missed everything that preceded it. Here's a look at one of the greatest at-bats you'll ever see.
The St. Louis Cardinals had a Championship Series berth within their grasp Thursday afternoon but could not break through against Washington's lights-out bullpen. Carrying a 1-1 tie into the bottom of the ninth, Nats outfielder Jayson Werth delivered the 2012 playoffs' second walk-off home run in 24 hours, forcing a Game 5 on Friday evening.
[T]he Cardinals' not-entirely-unfamiliar inability to score runs for an effective starter played up a little more sinister than usual in this particular context—it wasn't just the way they'd left the game tied, it was proof that they'd eventually lose it, having failed to properly appreciate what they had...
Add to that the weird angst that comes with having a lead in the best-of-five division series, and that was not an especially pleasant Game 4. It was so unpleasant that nobody could even get worked up about how the Cardinals striking out eight times in the last three innings reflected on their character.
The Cardinals have now blown out the Nationals twice in the series and lost two low-scoring one-run games, continuing the Jekyll and Hyde-like run distribution that plagued them during the regular season.. St. Louis has out-scored the Washington, D.C. squad 23-9 through Games 1-4, but none of those runs carry over to the all-important Game 5.
Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. Eastern at Nationals Park. The game will be broadcast on TBS.
The Washington Nationals were facing elimination in Game 4 of their NLDS match-up with the St. Louis Cardinals, but Jayson Werth's walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth sent the series to a decisive Game 5 and Nats fans into a frenzy. Here is a sample from SBNation's Nationals affiliate, Federal Baseball:
In a game that featured ridiculous relief work from both sides, it was a starting pitcher who gave up the last run of the game. Jayson Werth took a 3-2 fastball from Lance Lynn and drove it into the left-field stands, sending the Nationals to Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Friday.
Werth took two called strikes before working the count full, and he ended up getting 13 pitches out of Lynn, seeing a steady diet of fastballs and curveballs. Lynn, who usually works in the low-to-mid 90s as a starter, was throwing 96 and 97 in relief, but Werth fouled off seven pitches before getting a hold of the game-winner.
Drew Storen gets the win in relief for the Nats, as he pitched a scoreless top of the ninth. The Nationals' bullpen did not allow a hit in three innings, walking two and striking out eight batters.
Well, we finally got our National League pitchers' duel.
After 17 half-innings in Nationals Park, each team has scored precisely one run.
Nationals starter Ross Detwiler wasn't overpowering, but he gave up just that single run, and unearned to boot. Detwiler threw 104 pitches in six innings, which was actually past his usual curfew. In the seventh, Jordan Zimmermann struck out three Cardinals. In the eighth, Tyler Clippard struck out three Cardinals. In the ninth, Drew Storen struck out two Cardinals, then issued a walk to Pete Kozma before getting pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter on a pop fly.
In Davey Johnson's infinite wisdom, he pulled Zimmermann in favor of Tyler Clippard.
Nope, he didn't strike out Allen Craig. He walked him. And to be honest, the third strike to Holliday was probably six inches outside, and Jim Joyce just missed it. Nevertheless, with Craig on first base,
Clippard struck out Yadier Molina.
The Cardinals struck out only twice in six innings against Ross Detwiler. But now the big boys are pitching, and they've struck out six times in two innings.
We're on to the bottom of the eighth, and it's still Cardinals 1, Nationals 1.
Granted, it's just one inning (so far). In the top of the seventh inning, Zimmermann took over from starter Ross Detwiler, with the Nationals and Cardinals tied 1-1 in Game 4 of their Division Series; if the Nats lose this one, they're finished.
With Zimmermann's appearance, Twitter lit up like a freaking Christmas tree in Times Square ...
Interesting move by Davey Johnson; Zimmermann 9.12 career ERA vs. Cards; pounded in Game 2; first MLB relief app; only 3 in minors.— Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) October 11, 2012
We're not picking on Bernie Miklasz; he's a friend of SB Nation and we love him. Bernie understands the concept of sample size. Those are just facts, and if Bernie hadn't cited them, we might have.
But it's about sample size. There was little reason to believe that Jordan Zimmermann couldn't enter a game in the seventh and pitch effectively. Or maybe even brilliantly, considering he wouldn't have to pace himself, knowing he'd be asked to throw just one or two innings.
Let's hope we get to see him again in the eighth. Meanwhile, this one's still tied: Cardinals 1, Nationals 1.
Ross Detwiler did everything the Nationals wanted him to do.
If not for Strasburger's Syndrome -- if you had Tommy John Surgery two years earlier, you're incapable of throwing more than 160 innings -- Detwiler probably would have been bumped from the Nationals' postseason rotation, with Edwin Jackson filling the fourth slot. After all, Detwiler finished with the rotation's worst strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he was allowed to throw more than 100 pitches just once all season.
But here in Game 4, he's limited the potent Cardinals to just one run in six innings. He's also thrown 104 pitches, a new 2012 high, so he's undoubtedly coming out for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth.
Meanwhile, Kyle Lohse has thrown only 66 pitches in five innings, and might be around for a while yet.
The Cardinals fought back and scored a run without a hit in the top of the third inning. Pete Kozma drew a walk off Ross Detwiler. Pitcher Kyle Lohse was the next hitter. You probably don't need me to tell you what happened next, but then again, that's why we're here!
Of course, Lohse attempted a sacrifice bunt. He was successful on the first pitch in advancing Kozma to second base. The next hitter, Jon Jay, reached on an error by shortstop Ian Desmond, with Kozma taking third.
Carlos Beltran lofted a 1-0 pitch from Detwiler into center field; Kozma scored and the game was tied. The out also advanced Jay to second base, but he was stranded there as Matt Holliday was called out on strikes to end the inning.
The Washington Nationals must win Thursday's game or go home for the winter. In such games, it's often good to set the tone by scoring first.
Kyle Lohse is a tough pitcher who has had one of the best years of his career in 2012, and is a candidate for the National League's Cy Young Award.
Never mind that, said Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche. LaRoche worked Lohse to a 3-2 count, then fouled off three straight offerings from the Cardinals righthander before smashing a 92 mile-per-hour sinker over the center-field wall for a home run, giving Washington the 1-0 lead. It was LaRoche's second home run of the series.
The game headed to the third inning, with Washington's Ross Detwiler having held the Cardinals scoreless through the first two frames.
With right-hander Ross Detwiler starting for the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has posted his lineup for Game 4 of the clubs' National League Division Series:
If the Washington Nationals, who finished with Major League Baseball's best record during the regular season, lose to the St. Louis Cardinals today, their season is over. So manager Davey Johnson's Game 4 lineup seems kind of important ...
The St. Louis Cardinals look to close out their NLDS matchup with the Washington Nationals on Thursday at 4:07 p.m. ET.