The Nationals still have a lot of work to do, but they are trying to make things interesting in the National League East.
Michael Taylor slugged a pinch-hit, walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning last night as part of a 5-2 win over the Braves.
The Braves held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth before Matt den Dekker delivered a game-tying pinch-hit single with two outs against Arodys Vizcaino. After Jonathan Papelbon pitched his second straight scoreless inning, Bryce Harper led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk against Matt Marksberry. Brandon Cunniff entered the game to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman, but gave up a single to move Harper to third. Taylor, who has been dealing with a knee issue over the past two days, then hit for Papelbon and sent everyone home happy.
The Nationals have won three straight games and sit at 69-65 on the year. The Mets lost to the Marlins last night, so Washington is five games back in the NL East with 28 games to play. The two teams will begin a huge three-game series Monday in Washington, D.C., but the Nationals will try to pick up more ground by beating up on the Braves this weekend.
Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:
Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 14
Rays 2, Yankees 5
Orioles 10, Blue Jays 2
Indians 8, Tigers 1
Phillies 5, Red Sox 7
Braves 2, Nationals 5 (10 innings)
Mets 5, Marlins 6 (11 innings)
White Sox 12, Royals 1
Pirates 9, Cardinals 3
Twins 0, Astros 8
Rangers 2, Angels 5
Giants 1, Rockies 2
Mariners 11, Athletics 8
Dodgers 8, Padres 4
Brewers/Reds – postponed
Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is back in the starting lineup today after leaving last night’s game with a glute injury.
Harper’s mid-game departure led to speculation on Twitter that manager Matt Williams had pulled him for some kind of disciplinary reason, which as you can guess had Nationals fans even more ready than usual to fire Williams.
Instead it turned out to be a relatively minor injury and now the NL’s leading MVP candidate is batting third versus the Braves. And with Michael Taylor hurt, Harper is playing center field.
Thursday night when the Nationals placed center fielder Denard Span on the disabled list they indicated that he was unlikely to play again this season due to a left hip injury and now it’s official: Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that Span will undergo season-ending surgery.
Span will end up missing a total of 101 games this season due to multiple injuries, but when healthy enough to be in the lineup he hit .301 with five homers and a .796 OPS for his best production since 2009.
It’s particularly rough timing because Span is a 31-year-old impending free agent who would likely have a robust market and plenty of big long-term offers waiting for him if not for the injuries.
Michael Taylor has filled in for Span at various times and will do so again now, although the rookie exited Thursday’s game after crashing into the outfield fence. If the Nationals fail to re-sign Span this offseason they figure to hand the full-time center field job to Taylor in 2016.