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Nats 9, D’backs 6: Taylor’s slam atones for Harper’s ejection

May 13, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: When Bryce Harper and Matt Williams were ejected in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon, you couldn’t help but sense that controversy would end up affecting the outcome of this game, good or bad. Turns out it did have a dramatic effect on the outcome, in a surprisingly positive way.

Michael Taylor, who took over for Harper in the cleanup spot following his ejection, launched a grand slam in the top of the ninth off Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed, bringing the Nationals back to win the game and their fifth straight series in stunning fashion.

Jayson Werth also belted a 3-run homer to left-center in the top of the third, then Tyler Moore hit the foul pole for a 2-run, pinch-hit homer in the top of the sixth that tied this game 5-5. That’s when the real  fireworks began. Harper was ejected by Rob Drake in the top of the seventh on a check-swing call, upset that Drake wouldn’t appeal to third base umpire Gabe Morales. Williams also was ejected after coming to Harper’s defense, leaving Taylor in the cleanup spot and Randy Knorr managing the final innings of a close ballgame.

The Nationals bullpen got some really big outs along the way, with Tanner Roark, Matt Thornton and Aaron Barrett notching big strikeouts late. But Barrett couldn’t make one final pitch to Yasmany Tomas, who lined a 2-out, RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Diamondbacks the lead. That lead was short-lived, though, with Taylor flipping the script in most-dramatic fashion.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Wouldn’t you know Taylor would find himself in this situation: Batting with the bases loaded in the ninth, the spot that would’ve been Harper’s if not for the ejection. And wouldn’t you know the rookie outfielder would seize the moment like that? Taylor crushed a low 1-0 fastball from Reed to center field, sending the ball flying into a little cut-out in the batter’s eye where TV cameras are stationed. The crowd of 19,026 was left in stunned silence over the blast, Taylor’s first career grand slam.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Gio Gonzalez had been quite impressive over his last few starts, working a quick pace, keeping his pitch count down and giving the Nationals innings. But when they needed more of that Wednesday, the left-hander couldn’t deliver. He gave up five runs in five laborious innings, done in by a couple of walks, three extra-base hits and a whole lot of pitches. At one point, Williams came to the mound for a rare visit that didn’t result in a pitching change. The skipper was clearly agitated and let the entire Nats infield have it, with Gonzalez front and center.

KEY STAT: Tanner Roark threw a 96-mph fastball in the sixth inning, matching the hardest pitch he has ever thrown in his big-league career.

UP NEXT: The Nationals head to San Diego for the rest of this road trip and a 4-game series at Petco Park. Doug Fister (2-1, 2.87) faces Tyson Ross (1-3, 3.98) in Thursday’s late-night opener at 10:10 p.m. EDT.

  1. David Proctor - May 13, 2015 at 7:22 PM

    That was about as sloppy as it gets. Probably not the way they drew it up. A win’s a win.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 8:56 PM

      +1

    • Hiram Hover - May 13, 2015 at 10:03 PM

      +1.

      A win is a win is a win. But that was ugly, and not the kind of play that usually results in a W.

  2. nattygoats - May 13, 2015 at 7:22 PM

    OMG awesome job. That’s one go Caps and Wiz

  3. adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    Reposting from the end of game-thread:

    Lest we not forget, for those not watching on TV, the yellow line is a ridiculous 20 feet above the field where MAT hit it. So: 20 feet _above_ the 407 foot fence.

    Just. Wow.

    BTW, MAT’s lifetime SLG with bases loaded: 4.000 😉

    • ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      And Harper wouldn’t get that pitch to hit!

    • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 9:04 PM

      OPS of 5.000!

      • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 9:48 PM

        +5000 😉

  4. ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:25 PM

    WOOOOHOOOOO! (TM) MicheleS

    On to San Diego! GYFNG!

    And Mark, find out if Span is healthy. Looked funny out there.

    • scmargenau - May 14, 2015 at 12:57 AM

      Where is Michele???!

      • Dave - May 14, 2015 at 1:14 PM

        Twitter. @ANatsFan

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 13, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    Bench saved us…. And Werth too… Shout out to TyMo and MAT…

    • natsfan1a - May 13, 2015 at 7:30 PM

      True that. Atta way, boys. Atta way.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 8:57 PM

      Yep, great to see!

  6. Danny - May 13, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    Was going to lay into how bad Dez still has been. I’ll let it slide for now after the Curly W.

  7. ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    Nats played great ball, fugly ball, and ugly ball, but took another series win, on the road, on a west coast swing. Not too shabby.

    We are coming Mets, we are coming…

  8. natsfan1a - May 13, 2015 at 7:29 PM

    What an ending! During Taylor’s AB, I said to my tv (nobody else being in the room – yeah, I talk to myself), anyway, I said to myself “9-6 would be nice.” Shortly after that I was saying “Holy [er], holy schmoly!!” Followed by “Woo hoo!” and some other stuff. What an ending!

    • ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:33 PM

      I jumped out of my chair and did a twinkle toes dance, a pirouette, and yelled Grand Slam!!!!! My kids laughed at me. I’m used to it.

      • natsfan1a - May 13, 2015 at 7:39 PM

        Did they get it on video? It sounds awesome. 🙂

      • natsfan1a - May 13, 2015 at 7:39 PM

        At first, I read that as “out of my car.” I’m glad it wasn’t your car. Anyhoo. Nice win.

      • ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:40 PM

        Lol

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 8:18 PM

        I yelled something I shouldn’t, like …
        It was exciting.

      • Eric - May 13, 2015 at 9:16 PM

        I screamed and then my son came in and was like, “what the…?”

        He saw the replay and I explained what happened, and then after the game he saw the replay again, and he was like, “I saw that! I never saw that before, though. The biggest home run in baseball!”

  9. Karl Kolchak - May 13, 2015 at 7:32 PM

    Anyone still think Taylor belongs at AAA? He’s the by far the best 4th OF option this team has, and hopefully this game will cement his place on the big club. 🙂

    • ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:36 PM

      McClouth may never come off the DL.

  10. John - May 13, 2015 at 7:32 PM

    Don’t want to be a downer guys but something must be done about Desmond. He has no question been the worst player in baseball when you combine his fielding and hitting. Truly when rendon comes back he should go to the bench, I’d rather have uggla in and move espi to SS even currently.

    • ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:35 PM

      Idk about worst player in baseball, but for sure Desi is no Chase Utley. 😚

    • Karl Kolchak - May 13, 2015 at 7:48 PM

      Desmond’s WAR is actually PLUS 0.4, so he’s HARDLY the worst player in baseball. That said, another reason it would be nice to get Rendon back so that Desmond could sit a few games, rest up and clear his head.

      • Karl Kolchak - May 13, 2015 at 7:54 PM

        Oops, sorry, 0.4 is his oWAR (according to Baseball Reference). Desmond’s overall WAR was 0.1 going into today. So he’s basically playing at replacement level, but again hardly the worst in baseball.

      • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 8:17 PM

        Even just restricting it to NL shortstops, there are some who are playing worse than Desi right now. Neither Rollins (LA) nor Mercer (Pitts), both playing full-time, are batting above .190

  11. ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    D-Backs, and their fans, must be demoralized. That was a really tough loss.

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 13, 2015 at 7:41 PM

    2 things… I didnt think that managers could speak to reporters after being ejected….

    Dang MW STILL sounds pissed off in his post game comments.

    • unkyd59 - May 13, 2015 at 8:40 PM

      I’d like to see that…

  13. donkort - May 13, 2015 at 7:47 PM

    I hope the ejection doesn’t upset Bryce’s rhythm.

    • letswin3 - May 13, 2015 at 8:34 PM

      His ranting and screaming rhythm seemed to be at an All-Star level to me. I’m with FP on giving a passionate personality a little leeway to also be passionate about a dumb-ass umpire who thinks he can see both balls and strikes AND how far a hitter swung, in the SAME PITCH… all while BEHIND the catcher. Harper gets my appreciation.

      • mcwcmurf - May 13, 2015 at 10:01 PM

        passionate personalities know when to put a lid on it. his diva hissy fit took himself out of the lineup in a close game. FP is a homers homer. never a discouraging word. phil wood brought up poor base running in an atlanta game, and FP said we can either talk about poor base running or we can talk about the Nats sweeping the Braves. end of THAT topic. what a shill. wonder how many runs we’ve lost wandering aimlessly around the bases.

  14. Eugene in Oregon - May 13, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Wow. I had to leave to give a lecture just as the Diamondbacks were taking the lead in the 3rd. Didn’t look good. Now, seeing the results, wish I could have watched live. Impressive comeback, it seems. With excitement. GYFNG!

    • letswin3 - May 13, 2015 at 8:43 PM

      You want to see a lecture … watch the replay of MW’s trip to the mound. He rolled out there with fire in his eyes, motioned Gio to come to him and then layed down the law, loud and with dispatch (maybe 15 seconds at most). My guess is that he may have included some language about the dearth of restaurant choices in Syracuse. He then wheeled around and stomped (that’s my impression anyway) back to the dugout. First time I’ve really seen the tough guy personality that we heard so much about when he was hired.

      • natsfan1a - May 13, 2015 at 9:06 PM

        See, I was guessing it was something like, “Don’t make me bring Clint Robinson out here. Because I will.” 😉

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:27 PM

        Glad you mentioned that. Gio was throwing a lot of changeups and dancing on the corners. Gio was also showing frustration with the ump and MW has seen that before.

        So many issues today with pitching, pitch selection, the lack of the K pitch, defensive errors on the throw home and 2 by Desi and then Aaron Barrett with another subpar performance including 6 straight sliders to Tomas who of course only saw 6 pitches and you then throw this?

      • unkyd59 - May 13, 2015 at 9:46 PM

        Didn’t see the replay on AtBat… Anybody got a link…?

      • Eric - May 13, 2015 at 9:55 PM

        +1 unkyd

  15. Eugene in Oregon - May 13, 2015 at 8:04 PM

    Checking the box score on my iPad, it shows:

    Robinson,
    C, PH

    My first reaction: Wait! He caught today after pitching yesterday? Duh.

    • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 8:19 PM

      LOL!

      (+ 25)

  16. soonernat - May 14, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Ummm….technically the entire stadium was not left in stunned silence. There were a couple of hundred Nats fans standing a cheering 😉

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