The Nationals have been on a home run binge in Seattle against the Mariners. On Friday, against AL Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez, they slugged six of them. Jayson Werth added another on Saturday, and the Nats clubbed three of them on Sunday.
Bryce Harper hit two of them, both solo shots off of Hisashi Iwakuma. It marked his first multi-homer game of 2014, the fifth of his career, and his first since April 20, 2013. The first of his two home runs on Sunday was a no-doubter that ricocheted off of the window of the stadium club at Safeco Field.
Harper finishes out the month of August with seven home runs after entering the month with all of three on the season. The surge comes only weeks after many speculated that Harper could have been demoted to Triple-A.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: