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Homer from den Dekker wins suspended game

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Homer from den Dekker wins suspended game


GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Well, if you had to condense it down to one word, it would be: Weird. The opener of this series between NL powers began Friday evening under normal circumstances, with the Dodgers taking a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on Adrian Gonzalez's homer off Jordan Zimmermann. And that's when this became anything but a normal ballgame.

Three separate power outages at Nationals Park forced the suspension of the game in the top of the sixth, with the Nats leading 3-2 at that point thanks to Yunel Escobar's 2-run homer. It resumed Saturday afternoon, with Tanner Roark taking the mound for what technically was his second inning of relief, and quickly turned into a tie game when Gonzalez homered to left field.

So now this turned into a battle of bullpens. The Nationals loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but couldn't push the winning run across. Then they put a man on in the bottom of the eighth, and this time they got the job done. Matt den Dekker, sent up to pinch-hit, pounced on Pedro Baez's first pitch and sent it flying into the second deck in right field, giving the Nats the lead

The Nationals then rode scoreless innings of relief from Aaron Barrett, Casey Janssen and Drew Storen to take the very odd opener of this weekend's series.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: He isn't particularly known for his power stroke, but den Dekker certainly does make the most of the homers he hits. Last month, he clubbed a 2-run shot deep to right in Philadelphia to help lead the Nationals to a win. And on Saturday, he came up to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth and immediately launched Pedro Baez's first pitch into the second deck down the right-field line, giving the Nats the lead. It has been contributions from players like den Dekker that have allowed the Natiobals to withstand the prolonged losses of four key lineup regulars to injury. 

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Casey Janssen spoke passionately last weekend about his desire to prove to the Nationals he deserves to be their primary eighth-inning guy. If the veteran reliever keeps pitching like this, he'll earn that job soon enough. He tossed another 1-2-3 inning in a tight game Saturday, retiring the heart of the Dodgers order in the top of the eighth. Combined with his last appearance in Baltimore, Janssen has now retired six consecutive batters, four via strikeout. Janssen knows he doesn't have the stuff to overpower hitters, but he feels like if he locates well and mixes things up he can still make hitters swing and miss. His last two times out, he has proven that.

KEY STAT: Tanner Roark has now surrendered 11 home runs (most on the Nationals' pitching staff) even though he ranks fifth with 64 innings pitched.

QUOTABLE, PART 1: den Dekker on his homer: “First-pitch fastball, I think that’s what it was. I was just ready to be aggressive early, coming off the bench you gotta be in there and be ready to go. That’s what I did, just got a pitch over the plate and got the barrel on it… It’s just exciting to be a part of the win and a part of the team.”

QUOTABLE, PART 2: Matt Williams on the game being played across two days: “It’s good if you win it. It’s a humdinger of a game if you win it. If you don’t, then it doesn’t feel as good.”

UP NEXT: Don't go anywhere, because today's regularly scheduled game is coming up next. It's Doug Fister (3-4, 4.08) vs. Clayton Kershaw (6-6, 2.85).

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.