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Plenty of contributors in Nats' comeback win over Mets

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Plenty of contributors in Nats' comeback win over Mets

As if it wasn't clear already, the second-inning departure of Yunel Escobar due to injury gave the Nats yet another reminder that if they are to win games these days, they are going to have to do so without the contributions of some of their biggest names. 

Escobar exited with a left wrist injury, another scary moment in a season full of them. But afterwards, it was the bottom of their lineup, Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa who stepped up to secure a series victory over the rival New York Mets.

Taylor had two RBI singles to drive in three total runs. Ian Desmond, who batted seventh, scored twice and had two hits and two walks. Eight-hole hitter Matt den Dekker scored the fourth run in their 4-3 win and ended with a single and three walks. Espinosa drove in the go-ahead run.

That is certainly not the way the Nationals drew it up before the season but, hey, they'll take it.

"Opportunity. That's what they're looking for, the opportunity to show us and everybody else what they can do," Matt Williams said. "They've stepped up. It wasn't the plan, for sure, but nonetheless they've contributed and we're at where we're at."

The Nats surely planned to have Desmond be a big contributor this season, but up until lately he hadn't produced much of anything. Now Desmond has reached base in seven out of his last 10 plate appearances.

"That's the key with Desi. If he sees it well, then he lays off the bad pitches and he's able to do stuff like that," Williams said. "Hit balls over the fence, get basehits and walk and cause havoc on the bases as well. I like where he's at right now. He's seeing the ball well."

Taylor brought Desmond home twice, first in the fourth inning and again in the eighth. The second hit also scored den Dekker and tied the game at 3-3. 

Afterwards he described his approach to the at-bat against Mets reliever Bobby Parnell.

"I just tried to step out of the box and take my time more than I probably would normally. I'm looking for a certain pitch in that situation, so just have to try to be as patient as possible," Taylor said. "That was a big change in the game."

Taylor has an unusual split this season based on whether runners are on base. With no runners he is hitting .198 (32-for-162). With runners he is batting .389 (21-for-54) with 30 RBI.

"For me, when he gets in those situations he doesn't try to do too much," Williams added. "He's not looking for a three-run homer, he's looking for a basehit."

"It’s heart. I think he wants it more than the next guy. It’s been fun to watch. Hopefully there’s a lot more of it," Desmond said.

Espinosa - another fill-in due to injury - delivered the game-winning hit against Parnell in the next at-bat. He roped a double down the line and into the corner in left field. That scored Taylor from second, after the rookie stole a base following his 2-RBI hit.

The clutch hits from Taylor and Espinosa represented a breakthrough for the Nats on this particular day. Before the eighth inning they were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and had left 10 stranded on-base.

The Nats kept pushing forward and came away with an important victory in the NL East.

"The fact that we had a chance to come back in this game shows that we don't give up," Williams said. "We create opportunities for ourselves and we can come through. If we don't have those [10] runners, then we can't strand them. That's a good sign for us that we have guys on the basepaths. That's what we want."

"We got a team built on character guys and today was a perfect example of that," Desmond said.

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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.