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Heisey's walkoff homer in 16th gives Nats sweep of Twins

Heisey's walkoff homer in 16th gives Nats sweep of Twins

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 6-5 walkoff win over the Minnesota Twins in 16 innings on Sunday afternoon at Nats Park: 

How it happened: Even when Bryce Harper is supposed to have the day off, he can still find a way to help his team win a game. On Sunday, the reigning MVP waited patiently all afternoon before his named was called to pinch-hit for Michael Taylor in the bottom of the ninth. The Nats slugger emerging from the dugout with his bat and helmet to a roaring applause from the 35,397 in attendance at Nationals Park. He then came through with a monster shot homer to center field against Twins reliever Kevin Jepsen. It was a solo bomb and it tied the game at 4-4. The big swing forced extra innings and set up the decisive blow, a walkoff homer by Chris Heisey off Michael Tonkin in the 16th. That came after the Twins went up a run in the top half of the 15th on a single by Miguel Sano, a run that was only made possible by a crew chief review to keep the inning alive. And it came after Danny Espinosa tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the 15th by scoring from second on a throwing error to first by Twins catcher John Ryan Murphy. At 5 hours and 58 minutes, it was the longest regular season game in Nationals history.

What it means: With the win the Nationals are now 14-4, which ties their 2012 start through 18 games. It also matches the best start for a D.C. baseball team since the Washington Senators began the 1932 season at 14-4. The Nationals have benefitted from an easy schedule so far, but they have had no trouble at all with the teams they have played. Up next is the Philadelphia Phillies, who come to town as one of baseball's early season pleasant surprises. The Nats, though, did take two of three against them just a week ago.

Replay burns the Nats: Sano's RBI single drove home Eduardo Nunez after the 15th inning at one point appeared over. Nunez singled to right field with two outs and then was initially called out on a steal attempt of second base. But a crew chief review overturned that call and award him second. Dozier then walked to bring Sano to the plate.

Strasburg cracks late: For most of the afternoon it looked like another dominant outing for a Nats pitcher against a beleaguered Twins lineup, but Strasburg couldn't finish the job in the Nats' win. Strasburg was cruising before the eighth on a day he struck out 10 batters and walked none. The Twins, though, were able to start a rally with Joe Mauer notching a pinch-hit single. Nunez then reached on an infield grounder - his third hit of the day - and Dozier cleaned it all up with his third homer of the season. Strasburg ended up charged with four earned runs which is the most he's surrendered since Aug. 30 of 2015. Strasburg, in fact, had allowed just four earned runs total in his previous five outings entering Sunday, in a stretch of 35 2/3 innings dating back to last year. Strasburg's 10 strikeouts, though, did give him his 23rd career start with double digit strikeouts.

Harper's 9th homer a big one: Harper had quite the battle with Jepsen, who threw him only fastballs in a seven-pitch at-bat. Harper fouled off three pitches before sending one out of the field of play. Harper now has a game-tying or go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in each of the last five seasons. No other player can claim that.

Another first inning run: The Nationals continued their early season trend of getting off to good starts. den Dekker's homer off Twins starter Tyler Duffey put the Nats up 1-0 in the first and gave them 25 runs in the first inning this season, more runs than any MLB team has scored in any inning. They still, however, have not scored in the second inning, which is a strange stat when juxtaposed with their first inning domination.

Wilson gets a walk: Wilson Ramos has been off to a very good start this season, as he entered Sunday's game batting .315 with two home runs. But, prior to this game, he had yet to draw a single walk. He was, in fact, the only qualified hitter without a true walk. Gerardo Parra had no walks, but did have an intentional walk entering Sunday. Ramos finally got his first walk, though, off Duffey in the fourth inning. Ramos also had a two-RBI double in the eighth inning to cut the Twins lead to 4-3, which allowed Harper to tie it with his homer.

Up next: The Nats have Monday off before they continue their homestand against the Philadelphia Phillies. Joe Ross was supposed to start the opener, but will now have his turn skipped due to the blister on his right hand. Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.32) will instead start opposite 23-year-old starter Vincent Velasquez (2-1, 0.93). Velasquez struck out 16 batters in a complete game shutout two starts ago.

[RELATED: Baker has unique thoughts on HBPs: 'That's what you call a fool']

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Anthony Rendon misses fourth straight game

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Anthony Rendon misses fourth straight game

The Washington Nationals fell to the Colorado Rockies 9-5 Wednesday to close out a six-game road trip. Here's the latest Nats and Rockies news. 

Player Notes: 

NATIONALS:

Starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez allowed six runs on nine hits over five innings Wednesday, his season record falling to 0-3. He'll get another chance to get his first win of 2019 next Monday against the Cardinals

Juan Soto launched his fourth home run of the season in Wednesday's losing effort, a two-run shot in the third inning off Rockies starter German Marquez. It was a quiet day at the plate otherwise for the 20-year old, going 0-3 with a walk in his four other plate appearances.

Ryan Zimmerman sat out Wednesday's game after hurting his heel making a leap catch Tuesday. Nats manager Davey Martinez said Zimmerman was gonna get a day off regardless, but added the heel was still bothering Zimmerman "a little bit."

Anthony Rendon also missed out as he continues his recovery from an elbow injury sustained last Saturday. Martinez said Rendon was available to pinch-hit Wednesday, which he did not, and there's hope Rendon can play Friday after Thursday's off-day. Jake Noll earned his first MLB start at third base Wednesday with Rendon sitting out.  

Relief pitcher Justin Miller has begun a rehab assignment at High-A Potomac. Miller is on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain.

ROCKIES:

Several Rockies had excellent days at the plate Wednesday. Charlie Blackmon launched his third homer of the year in the fourth inning, Nolan Arenado drove in three runs and David Dahl chipped in with three hits, an RBI and a run scored.

German Marquez earned his third win of the season with seven innings of three-run ball Wednesday. Marquez allowed eight hits and walked two, striking out seven Nationals.

Colorado activated former National Daniel Murphy off the 10-day IL for Wednesday's game. Murphy went 1-for-4 in his first game back from a fractured finger, and almost got run over by racing mascots (we're not kidding). Another former Nat, Ian Desmond, was given a day off Wednesday.

The Rockies optioned pitcher Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A Albuquerque after he allowed four runs over five innings in the Nats' win over Colorado Tuesday.

Injuries:

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow hit by pitch, sidelined

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-day IL

RP Justin Miller: Back, 10-day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-day IL

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Saturday, 4/27: Padres @ Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Sunday, 4/28: Padres @ Nationals, 1:35 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Source: Rotoworld

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Nationals' pitching staff rocked in Colorado as Nats close out ugly road trip

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Nationals' pitching staff rocked in Colorado as Nats close out ugly road trip

The Washington Nationals lost to the Colorado Rockies, 9-5, Wednesday afternoon and fell to 11-12 on the season. Here are five observations from the game...

1. The Anibal Sanchez experiment is not going well so far.

The veteran right-hander came to Washington over the winter fresh off a fantastic season in Atlanta, one that was an aberration from previous years and may have extended his career. The Nationals hoped he would be much more like his 2018 version and not the guy he was from 2015 through 2017. 

But through five starts, the results have not been pretty, and Wednesday was his worst game yet. Sanchez got rocked for six earned runs on nine hits and five walks in five innings of work. His season ERA sits at 6.00 and he has 16 walks in 27 total innings.

The early returns on the Nats rotation have not been great. Patrick Corbin is their only starter with an ERA below 4.00. But Sanchez has been far and away the weakest link.

The Nats closed out their road trip with a 2-4 mark. Both series were against teams with losing records. They have lost three of their past four series overall.

2. Adam Eaton also had a rough day. His worst moment was in the bottom of the third, when Raimel Tapia knocked a bases-clearing double over his head in right field. 

Eaton appeared to misjudge the ball by stepping in too far. He jumped in an attempt to make up for it with a leaping grab, only to have the ball sail past him and to the wall. Though Victor Robles sprinted over to back him up, Eaton made the play look even worse by giving up on it and doubling over with his hands on his knees in frustration.

Just one frame later, Eaton struck out with the bases loaded to end the top of the fourth. He went 1-for-5 on the day with his lone hit a single in the top of the ninth.

Eaton also had a minor injury scare. While running out a grounder in the first, he slowed down and appeared to be limping. He was then shown on TV chatting with trainer Paul Lessard in the dugout. 

3. Because this is the 2019 Nationals, the bullpen of course played a factor and once again it was an adventure for Trevor Rosenthal.

Per usual, he was pumping heat but with zero control. He began the eighth inning by hitting Charlie Blackmon and finished the frame with three runs allowed on two hits and a walk. Of his 31 pitches, only 16 were strikes and three were wild. 

Those three runs were costly because the Nats scored two in the ninth and left runners on the corners. If Rosenthal had pitched a clean eighth, it would have been a one-run game.

Rosenthal has allowed runs in six of his seven appearances this season. He now leads the majors with five wild pitches.  

Rosenthal remains one of the Nats' highest upside relief options, so it may pay off down the road if they show patience in him. But it continues to be a disaster just about every time he takes the mound.

4. It wasn't all bad for the Nats. Juan Soto, who fouled a pitch off his right ankle in Tuesday's game, played in this one and launched his fourth homer of the season over the right field fence. He also drew a walk.

Jake Noll made the first start of his MLB career and landed his first hit. He rifled a double down the left field line in the second inning to score Matt Adams. 

Noll started at third base, which was a bit of a strange sight. By now everyone knows of him as the guy who looks like Ryan Zimmerman; now he's playing his old position?

5. The Rockies got a key piece back in their lineup, a guy who is a familiar face to Nats fans. Wednesday was Daniel Murphy's return from a fractured left finger. 

The injury gave him a four-to-six week recovery timeline, but he came back a few days early. Perhaps that can be taken as a sign of hope for Trea Turner, who remains out with a broken finger himself.

Murphy did some damage against his former team. He singled in his first at-bat off Sanchez, then walked and scored in the third inning. He also moved a runner over on a lineout in the fourth that contributed to a run.

Murphy's best highlight, though, came in between innings when he barely avoided disaster while running onto the field during the Rockies' equivalent of the Presidents Race.

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