August 22, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 31 Review: Bryce. Harper.

BRYCE HARPER WALKOFF LIFTS NATS ABOVE .500 FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR

The Washington Nationals blew a five-run lead and found themselves in a tie game in the ninth inning. No matter, though, as the hottest hitter in baseball was due up in the bottom half.

With one on and one out, Bryce Harper turned around a slider over 400 feet into the right center bleachers, lifted the Nats to an 8-6 win over the Atlanta Braves. With the win, the Nats move above .500 (16-15) for the first time this season.

In the ninth, Yunel Escobar (2 for 5) singled on the first pitch from Cody Martin, in his second inning of work. Jayson Werth struck out, setting the stage for Harper. On Wednesday, the still 22-year-old slugger hit three home runs. He followed that Friday with two more. After taking a fastball for ball one, Martin tried to bury a slider in on Harper’s hands.

Unfortunately for Martin, the slider hung a bit, and it ended right in Harper’s wheelhouse. Harper reached down and crushed it into the last set of bleachers in right center before the batting eye, about half-way up.

It was Harper’s 11th home run of the season and the two RBI’s give him 27 for the campaign.

The Nats got to Braves starter Julio Teheran in the second. Ian Desmond singled with one out, then Jose Lobaton blasted the next pitch into the upper deck to right field to put the Nats up 2-0.

Danny Espinosa followed with a double to center and after Fister struck out, Denard Span drew a four-pitch walk. Yunel Escobar then singled to center on a 1-2 count to plate Espinosa to make it 3-0.

Atlanta got one back in the fifth. Alberto Callaspo led off with a single. With two outs, Cameron Maybin doubled to left field to score Callaspo.

But the Nats weren’t done scoring. With one out in the fifth, Jayson Werth singled and went to second on Bryce Harper’s single. Ryan Zimmerman got down 0-2, then fought off four foul balls before hitting a laser that just cleared the fence in left, but bounced back onto the playing field.

After review, it was confirmed that the ball bounced in the flower box above the fence line and hit the back wall, which sent the ball back on the field and the umpires gave the home run signal. Zimmerman’s homer is his third of the season.

The Braves picked up two more in the seventh, all with two outs. Christian Bethancourt singled and went to third on Maybin’s double. Pedro Ciriaco pinch-hit and doubled to deep left-center to score both runners, ending Fister’s day.

Fister finished 6 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits and no walks, striking out three.

Atlanta made more noise in the eighth, loading the bases against Aaron Barrett with one out. With lefty Jace Peterson at bat, manager matt Williams called upon righty Tanner Roark, instead of warmed up lefty Sammy Solis. Peterson hit a dribbler back to Roark for an out, but a run scored.

Roark then went 2-2 to Bethancourt, and the young catcher found a hanging slider and clubbed it to the left center gap to plate both runners and tie the game.

The Nats had a chance in the eighth to break the tie. With Michael Taylor on second — pinch-running for Jose Lobaton )3 for 4, 2 RBI), who singled — Dan Uggla delivered a single to left. But Kelly Johnson made a strong throw home and Bethancourt made the catch and applied the tag just before Taylor touched the plate.

After Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, all that was left was for Harper to win the game.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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