Nationals Game Suspended Due To Rain
One quick clarification: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, all statistics compiled during today's game -- which was suspended due to rain in the bottom of the 11th with the score tied 10-10 -- are official. Therefore, Ryan Zimmerman did, indeed, extend his hitting streak to 23 games. The official scorer inside the press box at Nationals Park initially had announced that today's statistics would not be made official until the game was completed.
More than five hours after first pitch yesterday at Nationals Park, there was still much confusion permeating the home clubhouse. A game was left incomplete. A hitting streak was left in limbo. A roster spot was left vacant, those whose had not yet been determined.
"I don't know what we're going to do now," Washington starter Scott Olsen said. "I don't know what happens from here on out."
Following a rain delay that lasted an hour and 16 minutes, Tuesday's game between the Nationals and the Houston Astros was suspended with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning and the score tied, 10-10. The contest will be completed on July 9 at Houston, though the Nationals will still be the home team.
While a final outcome remained months away, more immediate matters were tended to before the day was through. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak - extended to 23 games Tuesday with a sixth inning single - continues on, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He met the news with a shrug of the shoulders.
"Yeah," Zimmerman said. "That's one more than 22."
The news was more disappointing for right-handed reliever Saul Rivera, who was optioned down to Class AAA Syracuse following the game's suspension despite working a perfect sixth inning. Left-hander Joe Beimel will return from the disabled list (hip flexor) for Wednesday's game at Los Angeles.
The Nationals departed the District Tuesday night for their first extended West Coast road trip of the season as the holder of baseball's worst record. As was made evident for just less than four hours Tuesday against the Astros, the team can rely neither on its defense (surprisingly) nor on its bullpen (not so much) to protect leads created by its suddenly potent offense.
Zimmerman, who owns the longest hitting streak in baseball in the past two years, went 2 for 6 with an RBI and a run scored. Four of the top five batters in Washington's lineup are hitting above .300, and the lone exception - outfielder Adam Dunn - is hitting .282.
"It's nice to be able to help the team, and you know, I drove in a run with the one hit and we did another good job of coming from behind again today and scoring a lot of runs," Zimmerman said. "Hopefully we can keep it going like we have been."
On Monday night, Washington's hitters bailed the team out of a four-run hole, and they were asked repeatedly to make similar charges Tuesday.
Olsen allowed six hits and five runs in five innings, and still, he managed to leave the game before the most serious damage was done. Toting a four-run lead in the seventh, Julian Tavares gave up two hits and three runs in one-third of an inning. Garrett Mock entered the eighth with a one-run lead and walked pinch hitter Darin Erstad, the first batter he faced.
"Walking the leadoff guy, that's a recipe for disaster," Mock said. "You're asking for trouble."
After Erstad advanced to third, Mock threw a wild pitch to Lance Berkman. Erstad scored to tie the game, 8-8.
Houston's bullpen was equally deficient at holding steady. Curt Sampson spelled starter Roy Oswalt in the sixth inning after Oswalt left the game with a bone bruise in his right index finger. Sampson walked three straight batters, which brought home two Washington runs. By the end of the sixth, the Nationals had tallied six runs on just two hits.
"Today was the battle of two struggling bullpens, and I think we could have helped ourselves a little bit if we would have played better defense," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said. "But our guys battled out there and we put up a couple runs. We just couldn't come out on top."
In the fifth inning, it was the Nationals who could not get out of their own way. Oswalt laid down a sacrifice bunt, but rather than record the easy play at first, catcher Wil Nieves tried to nab the runner at second. His throw was wide right. Four Houston runs later, Washington found itself stuck in an avoidable hole.
"I think a couple plays that we didn't make cost us six runs total," Acta said. "When your pitching is struggling, you have to catch the ball. You just can't give away outs. That's been a bit of a problem here."
At this point, the Nationals' struggles are slightly alleviated by the promise of its offense, one led by Zimmerman and his ever-growing hitting streak.
Back in the Nationals' clubhouse, there was room for optimism after all the confusion died down on another drizzly day.
"So we just pick it up in the eleventh?" Olsen asked. "Still wearing gray?"
When informed he was correct, Olsen grinned.
"Awesome," he said. "Great."
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