The main storyline before this game was the pitching matchup. Over six hours after it was supposed to start and long after both starters had exited the game, it ended on an infield single after one of the teams brought in a fifth infielder to try and prevent exactly that. It was a weird one.
On the mound for either team was Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer. Between them, you had five Cy Young Awards, including both of 2017’s, six other top five Cy Young finishes, and 10 All-Star appearances. It’s not every day you get a matchup of that historic caliber.
On one hand, Kluber was solid but unspectacular. He went 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six. You would’ve hoped he could’ve lasted a little longer, but for the most part you’d take that outing. Yet for most of the day, it seemed like that outing wasn’t enough, thanks to the other half of that pitching matchup.
For the Nationals, Scherzer went 7.1 innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 14. There certainly have been games this season where the Yankees have struggled offensively and it’s been down to their own struggles more than anything else. This didn’t feel like one of them, Scherzer was just that good. He struck out 10 through the first four innings, and it seemed like he was heading for 20.
Yet after he left, the Yankees managed to rally to tie the game. They then did that again after falling behind in the 10th inning. After all that, things finally ended after Gleyber Torres softly hit an infield single with the bases loaded in the 11th. It was a very weird ending in a 4-3 Yankees’ win in what will go down as one of the crazier games this season.
After two fairly easy innings, Kluber got into some trouble in the third. With one out in the inning, Alex Avila reached on a single. Following him was Víctor Robles, who laid down a push bunt that, due to a combination of miscommunication from Kluber and first baseman Mike Ford and it just being a good bunt, led to there being no play at any base. Trea Turner then added a single to load the bases. After a force out at home for the second out, Juan Soto came to the plate. Understandably, Kluber was very careful with Soto, but it did lead to him walking the slugger, giving the Nationals the lead.
Washington’s lead would only last a couple minutes, though. Scherzer looked extremely impressive to start, retiring the first seven Yankees he faced, six via strikeout. However, the eighth Yankees’ hitter was Kyle Higashioka, who took a Scherzer pitch over the wall in left to tie the game.
While Kluber wasn’t matching Scherzer in pure highlights, he did keep up with him in putting up zeroes in the scoreboard, at least until the sixth inning. After retiring the first two hitters of the frame, Kluber couldn’t close the deal and gave up a double to Kyle Schwarber. That brought former Yankee Starlin Castro to the plate. He snuck a single up the middle, scoring Schwarber and putting Washington back in front. That would also be it for Kluber as Aaron Boone went to Chad Green, who ended the inning.
Meanwhile, a couple batters after the Higashioka homer back in the third, DJ LeMahieu added a single. Scherzer then retired the next 13 Yankees he faced, and no one looked particularly close to getting on base. Clint Frazier finally broke that with a lead off walk in the eighth. Scherzer then got Mike Ford to fly out before finally being removed from the game. The Yankees failed to capitalize on what was left of the Scherzer-less eighth inning, stranding Frazier.
The Yankees had their last chance in the ninth with the top of the lineup due up. It only took a couple batters for the Yankees to basically double the offensive output from the Scherzer innings. With Nats’ closer Brad Hand in, LeMahieu drew a lead off walk. Two batters later, Aaron Judge somewhat broke his slump by dropping a blooper just fair and just in between two fielders. LeMahieu was held up at third, which seemed a somewhat dubious decision, but it wouldn’t matter. Torres singled two batters later and the game was headed to extras.
In the 10th, Aroldis Chapman came in, but allowed a single to Robles. The extra innings runner stopped a third on that play, but scored on the next one when Turner flew out. It goes down as unearned (thanks weird rules/Rob Manfred!), but it was the first run of any kind that Chapman has allowed this season. He ended up stranding a couple runners after that, setting up the bottom half of the inning.
Ford has, somewhat deservedly, been one of the most maligned hitters on the Yankees so far this season, but he made amends in this one. After showing bunt earlier in the at bat, he swung away with a 3-1 count and punched a ball through for a single. Extra innings runner Frazier scored and we were tied yet again.
Justin Wilson threw a scoreless 11th inning, leading to the walk-off in the bottom half. Walks to Giancarlo Stanton and Judge loaded the bases, allowing for Torres to be the hero with his infield single.
It was an absolutely perfect ending to an absolutely maniacal game.