|Photo by USA Today
A night after being bailed out by his center fielder on a miraculous catch to end the game, Nationals closer Rafael Soriano once again made matters interesting in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants.
But this time he wasn’t so lucky, as a pinch-hitting Hector Sanchez launched a towering three run homer to the upper deck in right field, putting the Giants up for good and ruining the Nats’ chances of a sixth consecutive win.
The final blow came in a 3-2 count with two outs, on a pitch Soriano didn’t think he would have to make. The previous pitch, at 2-2, Soriano fired a fastball that was up in the zone, just high enough to earn a ball from home plate umpire Jim Joyce.
Soriano thought it was a strike and couldn’t recover after thinking the game was over.
“I don’t think it be a bad pitch at all. I think it be a strike. But I don’t make that decision,” he said. “I think the game [should have been] over. That pitch, to me, I think it be a strike. I think that was when the game changed.”
Sanchez even thought he was done.
“It was close you know, I thought he got me,” he said.
Soriano’s next delivery was slightly higher, but right where Sanchez was hoping it would be.
“I was looking high and I got that pitch,” he said.
The Nats had nursed a lead since the third inning, only to see it ripped away at the end in the 4-3 loss on Thursday. They struck early with three runs in the third and knocked Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong out of the game after just 3 2/3 innings.