January 26, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 39 Review: Harper powers Nats over Padres

NATIONALS GO 5-2 ON WEST COAST ROAD TRIP

The Washington Nationals are officially on a roll. No-hit through four innings, the Nats bats finally woke up, and when they did, they were loud. Bryce Harper homered again to lead the Nats over the San Diego Padres 10-5 at Petco Park, completing a seven-game West Coast road trip at 5-2.

What set up as an interesting pitching match-up between Stephen Strasburg and Ian Kennedy ended up a rout. But with Strasburg getting yanked early in his past two starts, it was a big test for the righty, who has battled ankle and upper back problems this season.

Strasburg ran into trouble right off the bat. He struck out the first two batters, but Abraham Almonte reached base regardless on a wild pitch. Almonte stole second, then, running on the play, scored on an infield single by Matt Kemp as he beat Ian Desmond’s throw to the plate. He then walked Justin Upton, but escaped further damage, though Strasburg needed 31 pitches to get out of the first.

Justin Upton homered in the third to put San Diego up 2-0.

Padres starter Ian Kennedy hadn’t allowed a hit through four innings, but in the fifth, the Nats (22-17) finally made some noise.

Bryce Harper led off with a triple to the right field corner, then Ryan Zimmerman’s infield single put runners on the corners with no outs. Kennedy was able to coax pop-ups from Tyler Moore and Jose Lobaton, but Danny Espinosa came through, clobbering a mistake 0-1 fastball into the stands in right.

Espinosa’s fifth home run of the season put the Nats up 3-2.

Kennedy completely, and pretty shockingly, ran out of gas in the sixth, walking the first three batters. He managed just two strikes against the 12 balls in the frame. Lefty Frank Garces relieved, and with two strikes, he fooled Harper, who barely got his bat on a slider.

But everything’s coming up Harper right now, and the nubber trickled down the third base line and died before it got to the bag. All hands were safe, and the Nats had a 4-2 lead on the RBI “single.” Ryan Zimmerman followed with a broken-bat sacrifice fly to left to score Desmond.

Tyler Moore then broke it open, with a ground ball double down the left field line that hit the facing of the stands and ricocheted the ball back into short left field. But runners scored to make it 7-2.

Strasburg gave up consecutive hits to open the sixth, and manager Matt Williams came out with the quick hook. He went five innings-plus on 91 pitches and allowed three earned runs on five hits and a walk, striking out seven.

Tanner Roark relieved, and got a ground ball from Yangervis Solarte. The Nats couldn’t turn two, and a run scored. But the starter-turned-reliever limited the damage and got out of the inning allowing just the one inherited runner to score.

The Nats just continued rolling. Desmond singled and went to third on an Escobar single. That brought Bryce Harper up, and he came through once again. Down 0-2, he battled back and took an outside 92-mph fastball into the left field stands for his 14th home run of the season, a three-run shot, to give the Nats a 10-3 lead.

The Padres got solo homers by Justin Upton and Jedd Gyorko to provide the final score.

HERO: Bryce Harper. What can’t this guy do? 3 for 4, 3 runs, homer, triple and 4 RBIs.

GOAT: Michael Taylor and Jose Lobaton both went 0 for 4.

NATS NOTES:

  • Bryce Harper leads the Nationals with 14 multi-hit games and has reached base safely at least twice in 11 straight games, the longest such stretch of his career and the longest in Nationals (2005-present) history.
  • Danny Espinosa has hit give homers left-handed this season, as many as he had all of last year.

NEXT GAME: Nats are off until Tuesday, when they host the New York Yankees. Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.25) goes against Nate Eovaldi (3-1, 4.14).

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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