The Washington Nationals were one out away from securing a massive come-from-behind victory in Los Angeles on Wednesday when an unlikely error by right fielder Jayson Werth opened up the door to a wild finish, which fortunately for Werth ended up in the win column anyway, 8-5 in 14 innings.
Despite wearing his sunglasses properly — which at times seems to be a lost art in MLB — Werth appeared to lose Justin Turner's fly ball in the sun, which allowed Andre Ethier to score from first to tie the game for the Dodgers. Turner ended up cruising into second base, where he'd remain stranded as the game proceeded to extra frames.
And that's where things got a little more crazy, especially for Washington's Adam LaRoche.
After the Dodgers failed to cash in on bases loaded, one out opportunities in both the 10th and 11th innings, including a near walk-off hit-by-pitch that was offset by Dee Gordon actually swinging at the pitch, Washington surged back ahead in the 12th on LaRoche's clutch two-run single. In the ninth inning, LaRoche also delivered a pinch-hit game-tying two-run homer off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, so he was definitely the offensive star despite sitting out the first eight innings.
Then the bottom of the 12th happened.
After Tyler Clippard set down the first two Dodgers in order, Juan Uribe pushed a soft, seemingly harmless single into right field. That set the stage for Carl Crawford, who stunned the crowd with a game-tying two-run homer of his own — only his sixth home run of the season.
Just like that, back to square one. A dramatic near-win verged on becoming a most disheartening loss for the second time in an hour.
Fortunately for Washington, that man again, Adam LaRoche, beat out a potential inning-ending double play in the 14th inning, which allowed the go-ahead run to score. Asdrubal Cabrera then followed with a knockout punch off Kevin Correia, a two-run homer into the right field seats.
Just to recap LaRoche's weird afternoon though. He didn't appear until the ninth inning, yet delivered a game-tying two-run home run, a two-run single and an RBI fielder's choice that proved to be the game-winner. Five critical RBIs off the bench in one game.
Also five historic RBIs. Before Wednesday, only Harold Baines while playing for the Orioles in 1999 had entered the game in the ninth inning or later and managed to knock in five.
All of this on a day LaRoche was totally convinced he wouldn't play.
So it wasn't all bad for Jayson Werth. That's good to know.
LaRoche was also one of 26 Nationals to appear in the game, which according to ESPN Stats and Info was a franchise record. The MLB record is 30 players.
Though the Nationals came into the day holding a seven-game lead over the Atlanta Braves, a loss here, given the circumstances, would have been a gut punch of the worst kind. Especially after coming off the deck against a lockdown closer in the ninth inning. Adam LaRoche assured that wouldn't be the case though, and now the Nationals can fly home happy and comfortable with their lead intact.
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