Bryce Harper hits his first of many walkoff homers

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After the Nationals coughed up a 7-3 lead in the top of the ninth Thursday against the Pirates, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, giving Washington a 9-7 win.

Harper’s homer came off Bryan Morris with two outs in the ninth. He had gone 12 straight games without an RBI before delivering his shot just over the wall in left center. It was his first homer since July 1 and 14th of the season.

The Nationals needed Harper to play the hero because Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol combined to give up four runs in the top of the ninth. Soriano walked the first two batters he faced and gave up two hits while retiring just one batter afterwards. He was pulled from a 7-5 game with left-hander Pedro Alvarez coming up. Krol ended up walking Alvarez (when being able to throw just one breaking ball in the vicinity of the plate probably would have gotten him a strikeout) and giving up a two-run single to Josh Harrison.

The contest ended with neither manager in his respective dugout. Davey Johnson was tossed in the fifth, and Clint Hurdle was ejected two innings later. The sloppy game featured three Pirates errors in the Nationals’ four-run first inning.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.