Strike three looms large in Unit's win
Dunn called out instead of earning game-tying walk
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had a chance to prevent Giants left-hander Randy Johnson from winning his 300th career game Thursday evening at Nationals Park.
It occurred in the eighth inning with the Nationals down, 2-1. Johnson was already out of the game after pitching six solid innings. But the Giants' bullpen had a tough time getting hitters out two innings later, and it took closer Brian Wilson to snuff out the rally. Washington had the bases loaded with two outs, when slugger Adam Dunn came to the plate.
As per his custom, Dunn worked the count to 3-2. On the at-bat's seventh pitch, Dunn took a fastball that he thought was down the middle, but low, for ball four. He even started jogging toward first base believing that the tying run had scored. But home-plate umpire Tim Timmons, a veteran with nine-plus years of experience as an umpire, called strike three to end the inning. Dunn argued the call for a few seconds before manager Manny Acta intervened.
The replay showed that the call could have gone either way.
"Good pitch," Dunn said sarcastically. "Don't need to [look at the replay]. Good pitch."
Asked if the historical implication played a role in the called strike, Dunn said, "I don't think so. Come on, Tim is not going to think that quick. He is not going to think about that. He thought it was a strike."
Timmons could not be reached for comment.
Naturally, Wilson didn't have a problem with Timmons' call.
"I liked it. It worked out," Wilson said. "I pretty much just wanted to throw it right down the middle and let him see what he could do with it. He took it. I can't really speculate where it was. I just know that the umpire called it a strike and it was very advantageous for us. So I'll take it.
"You really don't want to see a 300th [victory] lost on a walk. Nor did I want to see it."
At the moment, Dunn does not feel that his pivotal strikeout is a part of history, but felt that could change if Johnson doesn't win another game.
"I don't think it's a [historic] play by no means," Dunn said. "I'll give you this: If [Johnson] doesn't win another game the rest of his career, then I'll say it's [historic], but there is a good chance he is probably going to win another one."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.