Quick Links

Nats fall in 18th inning on Marte's homer, as Pirates avoid sweep

Nats fall in 18th inning on Marte's homer, as Pirates avoid sweep

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in extra innings on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Off-days are cherished throughout the course of a 162-game MLB season, but the Nationals will be extra thankful for the one they are about to get on Monday.

That's because they just lost the longest baseball game of most of their lives. And if anyone involved in their 18-inning loss to the Pirates on Sunday has ever experienced a longer and more exhausting defeat before in their baseball careers, then God bless their souls.

This was a brutal one. It will go down as just one loss, but the Nationals just got the energy drained out of them in the longest regular season game in team history. Only their NLDS Game 2 defeat of 2014 was as long in terms of innings. And just like that marathon, an extra innings homer did them in.

This time it was Starling Marte who launched a solo bomb to left field with two outs in the top of the 18th off Oliver Perez. That put the Pirates up 2-1 and gave them the victory.

The game began with an unlikely pitchers duel between Max Scherzer and rookie Chad Kuhl. Scherzer allowed one run across seven innings and Kuhl tossed six shutout frames with just one hit surrendered. 

The Nats would get to Pittsburgh's bullpen, however, as Daniel Murphy smacked a game-tying pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth in his first at-bat after missing two games with a hamstring injury. That forced extra innings, where the Nats bullpen ultimately cracked after combining to toss 9 2/3 scoreless frames.

All in all it was a tough day for the Nats' offense, which managed only one run. The Nationals fell to 4-4 in extra innings this season.

What it means: The Nats had their five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 56-37 on the year. The Mets won and cut the Nats' lead in the NL East to six games.

Scherzer strong again: Scherzer overcame a high pitch count early to go seven strong innings in the loss. He gave up only one run on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts and 103 total pitches thrown. Scherzer has made it at least six innings in 13 straight starts with a 2.16 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings during that stretch. He has given up just two earned runs in his last four outings across 27 1/3 frames.

Scherzer's only run on Sunday was on a Marte double in the sixth inning. Marte drove in Adam Frazier, who led off with a double of his own. Of the six hits the Pirates got off Scherzer, four were doubles.

Bullpen also good: The Nats' bullpen picked up right where Scherzer left off, combining to toss 9 2/3 scoreless frames before Perez gave up the go-ahead homer. Blake Treinen, Shawn Kelley, Jonathan Papelbon and Yusmeiro Petit all tossed one inning apiece to take them through the 11th. Matt Belisle then tossed two scoreless innings before Felipe Rivero took over to pitch three unblemished frames. As a group they struck out nine and gave up just three hits and two walks before Perez came in.

Turner's rough day: Turner was a late addition to the Nats lineup once Anthony Rendon became a late scratch with flu-like symptoms. Turner hit leadoff, but wasn't able to much going at the plate. He went 2-for-7 with four strikeouts and is now just 3-for-15 in the three games he's played since getting called up just over a week ago. The 2-for-7, however, was worse than it looks. His second single led off the bottom of the 17th, but Turner then got thrown out at second trying to manufacture a double. It was an unfortunate mistake for the rookie.

Murphy hits No. 18: Murphy's homer was his 18th of the season and the fourth pinch-hit homer of his career. His last came against the Nats on April 27, 2011 when he hit one off Tyler Clippard. It was the 10th pinch-hit homer for the Nats already this season, tied for the most in baseball with the Cardinals.

Harper reaches twice: Harper's single was his second in as many games, but one of only three over his last six outings overall. He's 3-for-22 (.136) during this current slump. He also walked, though, to lead off the 10th inning.

Up next: The Nats take Monday off before hosting the Dodgers on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series. Flamethrowing prospect Reynaldo Lopez will make his MLB debut for the Nats opposite L.A. lefty Scott Kazmir (7-3, 4.52).


Quick Links

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

USA Today Sports

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

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."


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

Quick Links

The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

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. 


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.