GAME 72 REVIEW: Capps' Nailbiter Closes Out Royals 4-3

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | , , , , | 0 comments »

THE RESULT:  It took a 48 minute rain delay, a couple of home runs, and four hits off the closer, but the Washington Nationals held on for a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on a steamy, stormy evening before 21,168 at Nationals Park.

The Nats took a 4-1 lead into the ninth, and in what's becoming typical Matt Capps fashion, Capps put a bunch of runners on base but wriggled his way out of the jam.

Capps got Jose Guillen to fly out to right, but then gave up three straight singles to the 6-7-8 hitters in Kansas City's lineup.  Pinch-hitter Chris Getz popped up to short for the second out, but lead-off man Scott Podsednik drove in two with a clean single, and what remained of the crowd -- after a torrential downpour -- were now on the edge of their seats.

That brought up catcher Jason Kendall with runners at first and second and two outs.  But Capps got Kendall to fly out to Adam Kennedy at first base, sending Nats fans home happy.

It was Capps N.L. leading 22nd save of the season.

"A lot of things haven't gone Matt's way, for a guy who has 22 saves," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. "He could have more if he would get a little lucky now and again."

"But the bottom line is he got the save."

Washington busted out the homer stick tonight, with Josh Willingham blasting his 100th career home run -- his 13th of the season -- and Adam Dunn's mammoth shot to dead center off the vine-covered batter's eye behind the utility tunnel.

(Photo by Meaghan Gay/DCist)

The Nats have hit 64 home runs this season, with a whopping 44 of those, including both tonight, of the solo variety.  Washington has the highest percentage of solo home runs in the Major Leagues.

They also got a RBI double from Ryan Zimmerman (2-for-4) and an RBI sacrifice fly from Nyjer Morgan for their biggest offensive outburst since scoring four runs in a loss to Detroit on June 15.

Nats starter Luis Atilano (W, 6-4) was effective -- before and after the rain delay.  He went 5 1/3 innings and allowed just one earned run on six hits and most importantly -- no walks.  He struck out five and threw 58 of his 84 pithces for strikes.

(Photo by Meaghan Gay/DCist)

Atilano turned things over to the bullpen with two outs in the sixth, and Joel Peralta, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings. 

Clippard turned things over to Capps in the ninth, fitting as the theme of T-Shirt Tuesday was Clipp 'n Save, with a coupon on the front of the t-shirt with the players' names and nicknames.

The Nats send Stephen Strasburg to the hill tomorrow looking to sweep the Royals, with the Major's worst team -- the Baltimore Orioles -- next up on the scheudle.  After breaking a six-game losing streak, the Nats might have found the right place to look for some comfort.

Maybe there is something good about interleague play.

THE GOOD:  Josh Willingham.  3-for-4 with two doubles and a homer.  The 3-4-5 hitters were 6-for-12 with three RBIs.  When the middle of the order hits, this team wins.

THE BAD:  Despite scoring four times, the Nats were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

THE UGLY:  Capps gave up four hits in the ninth inning.  If it weren't for the three-run lead, we'd be talking about a completely different game.

NEXT GAME:  Wednesday, the finale against the Kansas City Royals.  Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.86) faces Brian Bannister (6-5, 5.70) at 4:35.  As of this posting, plenty of good seats remain.  Of course, game time temperature is expected to be 95 degrees with a heat index over 100.  Drink plenty of water if you go.