A day after Phillies manager Joe Girardi was ejected from Tuesday night’s home game against the Nationals after threatening to engage Washington starter Max Scherzer in a fight, the Nationals outslugged Philadelphia, rallying three times to score a 13-12 win on Wednesday.
The slugfest came down to a 34-year-old relief pitcher Paolo Espino shutting down the middle of the Phillies’ order for his first career save after Starlin Castro hit a go-ahead, two-run single off closer Hector Neris in the ninth inning. It was the first game in major league history that featured a grand slam and three-run homer for each team.
“Boom,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez. “There’s no way to sum it up.”
Josh Bell answered Andrew McCutchen’s slam with one of his own as the Nationals overcame deficits of 5-0, 9-5 and 12-11.
Kyle Schwarber hit Washington’s three-run homer and Travis Jankowski had one for Philadelphia. Bryce Harper also connected for the Phillies.
Both clubs let their bats do the talking after Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called Girardi a “con artist” for asking umpires to check Scherzer for illegal substances during the Nationals’ 3-2 victory Tuesday night.
“It’s embarrassing for Girardi, it’s embarrassing for the Phillies, it’s embarrassing for baseball,” Rizzo said in a radio interview Wednesday on Washington’s 106.7 The Fan.
Scherzer threw his glove and hat to the grass, then stared down Girardi after getting checked for a third time by umpires for sticky stuff.
Major league umpires began a crackdown on Monday by regularly examining pitchers for tacky substances that can give them a better grip on the baseball. Managers also can request a check, although umps can deny it if they believe it’s not in good faith.
Girardi said he became suspicious because Scherzer was touching his hair more than usual on the mound. Scherzer said he did that because he couldn’t grip the ball and needed moisture on his fingers. He also said he got tired of tasting rosin.
“He’s a con artist,” Rizzo said of Girardi. “He’s been doing that for years on TV.”
Phillies president Dave Dombrowski defended his manager, saying Rizzo’s comment was “totally improper.”
“That’s not Joe Girardi,” he said. “It’s totally improper for [Rizzo] to say that . . . Joe Girardi is the farthest from a con man of anybody that I know. He’s a very sincere individual. He was within his rights.”
Dombrowski added that he called Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office about the issue. MLB has consulted with the umpires and determined Girardi’s request was legitimate.
Girardi’s biggest issue this time was trying to find a pitcher to hold any lead.
Meanwhile, Martinez had already used seven pitchers by the time he handed it over to Espino for his 30th career appearance. The Panama native retired Rhys Hoskins and Harper on two pitches. After J.T. Realmuto reached on an error, Brad Miller lined out.
“Espino is pretty much our secret weapon,” Martinez said of his veteran reliever, who has 21 strikeouts and only three walks in 28⅔ innings this season. “He’s the one guy I know will go out there and pump strikes.”
Yasmani Grandal helps White Sox halt skid
Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run double and the Chicago White Sox stopped a five-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3. Leury García added a home run as the AL Central leaders ended their longest skid of the season.
Chicago starter Dylan Cease (6-3) bounced back from rough outing to work 5⅔ innings, allowing one earned run while striking out seven. He was tagged for seven runs in 3⅓ innings in his previous outing at Houston.
Liam Hendricks pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save of the season.
Grandal’s tiebreaking hit came with two outs in the fifth inning and finished Pirates starter Chase De Jong (0-2). García led off the second with his first home run of the season, a first-pitch drive to right center.
Jonathan Schoop’s solo HR sparks Tigers
Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homer and a two-run double to help the Detroit Tigers beat the skidding St. Louis Cardinals, 6-2. The Tigers have won three straight for the second time in a 10-day span. Schoop has played a key part in the relative surge, hitting 10 home runs this month.
The Cardinals have lost five of six. Since leading the NL Central nearly a month ago, they have lost 16 of 22 games.
Matt Manning (1-1) allowed two runs on five hits and two walks over 5⅔ innings. It was his second career start and first at Comerica Park, where his parents were in the stands.
Gregory Soto, Jose Cisnero and Michael Fulmer combined to pitch 3⅓ innings of scoreless relief.
Indians’ RHP Aaron Civale out a month
Indians pitcher Aaron Civale will miss more than one month with a sprained right finger, the latest blow to Cleveland’s injury-ravaged rotation.
Civale, who is tied for the major league lead with 10 wins, injured his middle finger in a start against the Chicago Cubs on Monday. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday.
The Indians said Civale will be shut down from throwing for up to two weeks and the right-hander will miss between four to five weeks of game activity.
Civale’s injury comes on the heels of the Indians losing reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber (shoulder) and Zach Plesac (broken thumb) to injuries. Bieber and Plesac are expected to be sidelined several more weeks.