It wasn’t exactly too little, but it was definitely too late as the P-Nats rallied for four in the bottom of the 9th, but came up short, 9-8 to the Kinston Indians.
The bottom of the 9th started innocently enough as Eury Perez singled for the third time, which is hardly a surprise with Perez on a hot streak which has seen him raise his batting average from .259 to .279 since August 11th. He then stole his 45th base, also not much of a shock since he’s swiped nine straight bags this week.
Soriano moved him over with a grounder to second and Kobernus moved him in with an infield single. Kobernus took second uncontested and Justin Bloxom walked. This brought up Steve Souza, who had already stranded four runners with two out. Apparently, having one out seems to suit him, as he clubbed his 11th home run to bring Potomac within one. It was his first home run since July 23, and the first one at the Pfitz since May 24.
If there’s a hotter hitter than Perez right now, it’s Zach Walters, who singled after Souza’s blast to restart the rally. Walters’ two hits pushed his Potomac batting average to .302, precisely what it was for South Bend when he was acquired for Jason Marquis in late July. Walters took second on a Sandy Leon groundout but was stranded there following a Jose Lozada walk and Brian Peacock’s game-ending flyout.
Erik Davis took the loss (his fifth in six starts) in what may very well be his final appearance for the Nationals organization. Once again, he struggled with his control, walking four batters over six and 2/3rds innings and striking out just three batters. He gave up six hits and was charged with six runs. Simply put: He looked more like a Low-A pitcher in his first High-A start than a AA pitcher that had been dropped down.
Davis is believed to be ineligible for the playoffs, but there is cause for concern with the first man out of the ‘pen. Josh Smoker let in the two runners he inherited from Davis in grand fashion with a slam over the LF wall, the second straight outing he had given up a homer. Perhaps its fatigue — Smoker leads the team in appearances with 46 — but it’s definitely something to be concerned because the heater wasn’t so hot last night (well, except on the way back out), flat, uneven and and elevated. That’s the classic recipe for getting knocked around.
Unfortunately, not only did the loss end the P-Nats’ four-game win streak, it was a missed opportunity to take first place as the Keys fell to the Blue Rocks, 3-2. The elimination number remains at three
, but Potomac still can win the division regardless of what Frederick does; they just have to win the rest of their games. Conversely, a doubleheader loss combined with a Keys win today clinches the division for Frederick.