Game in a nutshell: Bryce Harper's first career homer set the early tone for the night, but the Nationals were forced to rally after starter Ross Detwiler gave up five runs. Perhaps negatively affected by the loss of rookie catcher Sandy Leon to a scary-looking ankle injury, Detwiler put his teammates in a 5-4 hole. No problem, because Ian Desmond responded with a two-run double in the sixth, and Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady added solo homers in the ninth to provide some cushion for Henry Rodriguez. And the beleaguered closer needed it, because he walked the bases loaded with one out, forcing Davey Johnson to summon Sean Burnett to bail him out. Which Burnett did by inducing a game-ending, 1-2-3 double play.
Hitting highlight: It was bound to happen eventually, and it didn't disappoint when it did finally happen. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the third, Harper crushed a 2-1 breaking ball from Tim Stauffer over the center-field fence and well up the grass batter's eye for his first career home run. The 19-year-old became the youngest major leaguer to homer since Adrian Beltre in 1998 and got a curtain call from the announced crowd of 19,434.
Pitching highlight: After Detwiler labored through five innings, Johnson was forced to turn to his bullpen earlier than usual. No problem, because Craig Stammen came to the rescue yet again. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three in the process, to bridge the gap from Detwiler to setup man Tyler Clippard. Stammen now boasts a 1.29 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 innings out of the bullpen this season.
Key stat: This was only the fourth time in 35 games this season in which the Nationals' starting pitcher gave up more than three earned runs.
Up next: Stephen Strasburg finally gets a chance to face his hometown team when the Nationals host the Padres in the 1:05 p.m. finale of this very brief, two-game series. Right-hander Anthony Bass starts for San Diego.
Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.
Dancing is not.
On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor.
With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch."
Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.
While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."
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It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.
While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle.
106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here.
It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.
It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.
They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training.
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Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.
Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.
Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.
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