If the Washington Nationals want to be considered a World Series favorite, they have to hold leads late in games.
The Nationals led 7-2 in the 8th inning and lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in extras thanks to another blown save by Rafael Soriano and multiple defensive miscues.
Washington failed to gain a game on the rival Atlanta Braves in the NL East standings, remaining 7 games ahead of Atlanta with three weeks left in the season.
Soriano entered the game with a 7-5 lead and allowed two solo home runs to give the Phillies another chance. One of the dingers was hit by Ben Revere, who matched his career total with just one swing. Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore committed errors in the 11th innings, leading to two unearned runs and handing Craig Stammen a tough-luck loss.
Harper flew out to left with the tying run on second base, ending the game and giving the Nationals a crushing loss.
Washington owns the best record in the majors after the All-Star break at 28-18, but this (along with a few others since the break) was certainly winnable. Soriano hasn’t been an effective closer since the All-Star break and even Tyler Clippard has had more shaky outings than usual.
Manager Matt Williams has discussed possibly changing closers, to either Clippard, former closer Drew Storen, and Matt Thornton, who was acquired from the Yankees last month.
Whether the errors are physical or mental, the Nationals easily could have a lead excess of ten games and own the National League’s best record. As it stands, Washington is still in excellent shape thanks to a favorable schedule and their surplus of talent. At season’s end, however, all of the remaining teams are talented and the teams that make the least mistakes will be the most dangerous.
Right now, the Washington Nationals aren’t one of those teams.