A walk-off home run by Nationals’ first baseman Michael Morse allowed the Washington Nationals to end a five-game losing streak by a score of 2-1.
After closer Drew Storen allowed a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth inning, Morse crushed a home run to left field to end the game. It was his fourth straight game with a home run and his sixth of the season.
“We’ve all seen this from Mike,” Nationals’ manager Jim Riggleman said after the game. “We saw it last year. We saw it in spring training. It got away from him a little bit for whatever reason. Now he’s just playing baseball. He’s not over-thinking things. He’s just hacking, and the ball really jumps off his bat.”
Nationals’ starting pitcher John Lannan was excellent, throwing seven and two-thirds innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts. Lannan has struggled at times this season as he lowered his ERA from 5.03 to 4.40 May 27.
“The biggest thing I’ve been struggling with has been consistency,” Lannan said after the game. “The first pitch strikes were there. I need my sinker to do well. I got ground balls. I’ve just got to run with it.”
The first run of the game came off the bat of Nationals rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa in the bottom of the fifth inning, a solo home run to left field off Padres starter Clayton Richard.
The score remained that way until the top of the ninth inning when Padres’ shortstop Jason Bartlett hit a solo home run of his own off Nats’ closer Drew Storen to tie the game at one apiece. It was Bartlett’s first home run of the season. Then Morse’s walk-off came in the next half inning.
The win snaps the Nat’s losing streak, who won just once on the eight-game road trip that ended Wednesday. Players are clearly frustrated with the team’s play of late, especially newly signed right fielder Jayson Werth, who recently said that, “things need to change.” While many saw the comment as a suggestion that Riggleman be fired, the Nationals’ manager does not see it that way after having a conversation with Werth about his frustrations.
“He’s been around a lot of winning, and we’re not winning right now,” Riggleman said before Friday’s game. “Jayson is becoming one of the voices of the ballclub with his experience in the game, and he expressed that frustration.”
There is one change that Riggleman believes the entire team is onboard with.
“Changes? We’ve got to start winning ballgames,” he said. “The losing that’s taken place here the last couple years, that’s got to change”