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Nats 2, Phillies 1: Harper homers, Scherzer dominates

May 22, 2015, 9:41 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

GAME IN NUTSHELL: Max Scherzer and Sean O’Sullivan had squared off twice already this season prior to Friday night, with Scherzer prevailing both times. And in each of those games, the Nationals ace was buoyed by a Bryce Harper homer off O’Sullivan.

So what happened in meeting No. 3 of the season? The exact same thing. Scherzer once again pitched a gem against the Phillies, tossing eight innings of 1-run ball. And Harper once again homered off O’Sullivan, giving him three in three games against the big right-hander.

The Nationals’ go-ahead run, though, came in large part due to Scherzer, who led off the sixth with a single to right and then busted it 270 feet around the bases to score on Ian Desmond’s RBI double off the center-field fence. The crowd of 35,893 was particularly impressed with that aspect of Scherzer’s night.

Drew Storen pitched the ninth, protecting a 1-run lead, securing his 13th save in 14 tries and lowering his ERA to 0.98. And the Nats notched their sixth straight win, their 18th win in 22 games to match a club record and continue a torrid stretch of elite baseball.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Harper’s latest home run was yet another jaw-dropper. Not because of how far he hit it, but because of how he hit it. Down 0-2 to O’Sullivan, Harper took a close curveball for a ball, showing the patience that has become his hallmark this season. Then he somehow managed to connect on a high fastball at his shoulders and drive it over the left-field fence, an impressive display of power once again from Harper, who is just on an insane tear at the plate. At that moment, he had 11 homers in a span of 45 at-bats. How crazy is that? Consider that if you took away all his non-homers from that stretch and turned them into outs, he’d still own a .244 batting average. Just nuts.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Just as we’ve come to expect Harper to homer every night, we’ve come to expect dominance from Scherzer every fifth night. And Friday night was no exception. The right-hander gave up a couple of well-struck balls to center field in the early innings, with Ryan Howard and Odubel Herrera combining to plate the Phillies’ lone run. But he was lights-out after that, working quickly and efficiently to toss eight innings on 110 pitches. In the process, he became only the second pitcher in Nationals history to go at least seven innings in seven straight starts. Only Livan Hernandez has bested that, with eight straight such starts back in 2005.

KEY STAT: Five of Harper’s six intentional walks this season have come via the Phillies pitching staff.

UP NEXT: The middle game of this series features Stephen Strasburg (3-4, 5.98) and Cole Hamels (4-3, 3.24) on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. Saturday.

  1. Drew - May 22, 2015 at 9:45 PM

    Wow. (Whew!)
    With those four lefty bats coming up, I was hoping they’d go to Thornton, but Storen and Williams proved me wrong.

    It’s great to see Scherzer rewarded. Maybe the Nats will have the Cy Young and the MVP winners.

    GYFNG!!!

    • tcostant - May 22, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      I was hoping that too.

    • nattygoats - May 22, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      Don’t forget a WS

  2. tcostant - May 22, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    Nats win, Mets loss. One and a half game lead. Great game.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

    Scherzer, Desi, Bryce, Span are the top stars.

    Difo needs to be the pinch-runner in the future. Not only is Taylor a horrible baserunner, his circuitous routes to balls shows further inexperience. He ran after a flyout as if the wind was blowing it.

    Nats should’ve scored 5 off of O’Sullivan. He’s not that good.

    Couldn’t tell by the stats but Storen pitched a nice 9th. 2 clutch K’s.

    • Candide - May 22, 2015 at 9:50 PM

      MAT leads the Nats with 4 TOOTBLANs on the season. As a bench player.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 9:52 PM

        I have 6 TOOTBLANS for him as the 2 thrown out at home I blame on poor baserunning.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 22, 2015 at 9:58 PM

        Again…. really hoping the Nats re-sign Span for another 2 or 3 years… and have MAT be the transition for Jayson Werth…

        MAT is simply not ready for every day play. My heart literally jumped in my throat when he made the can of corn kind of an event in RF in the 9th….

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:04 PM

        I’m thinking the same to retain Span for at least 1 to 2 years. Taylor just lacks strong baseball instincts and the 2 areas he was supposed to be strongest was defense and baserunning and he’s not been good.

        The area I was most worried was his offense and he’s exceeded my expectations there.

        You don’t take a lead where you can’t get back but it’s beyond that. He’s been thrown out twice at the plate on poor reads and running. Speed doesn’t make you a great baserunner.

        Span has been the full package.

      • ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 10:10 PM

        Im taking the opposite view Ghost – hitting is much harder to fix than base running and routes to balls. Lots of upside to MAT, but he needs seasoning. This is the right ballclub for him though.

        As for Span, I have to believe he will want, and probably get, a longer term deal than Rizzo will give him.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:15 PM

        That would be the issue as to length of contract for Dspan.

      • Just. Dave - May 22, 2015 at 10:21 PM

        I love Span. There is no way he is retained for two years; someone will give him five. He has been under appreciated in his time here.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:49 PM

        I think you’re right but you never know.

      • TimDz - May 22, 2015 at 10:08 PM

        I would like to see that, but the only way it happens is if Span leaves money on the table…pretty sure he’ll command 4/48 next year and I don’t see Rizzo going there…

      • manassasnatsfan - May 22, 2015 at 10:21 PM

        How about 3 for 36

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:19 PM

        Did they count the throw outs at home.

      • Candide - May 22, 2015 at 10:21 PM

        Only the one on April 11 against Philadelphia.

        (Good site – have a look.)

    • nattygoats - May 22, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      Are you always so negative?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:08 PM

        That’s analysis SWM. You complain about everything including the handshakes after a Win.

    • letswin3 - May 22, 2015 at 10:23 PM

      I love Taylor, but you’re right Ghost … he needs more seasoning. I saw exactly what you saw tonight, plus I saw him baffled by breaking balls the other day, again.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:48 PM

        He’s such a good kid and wants to do good. He has to think of what he would do in each situation. Did you see what Scherzer did scoring from 1st on a double. Played it textbook and started to sprint once the CF turned his back to the infield.

        He has to step it up in all facets.

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 22, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      Michael “AAAA” Taylor is Justin Maxwell 2.0. He’s. Just. Not. That. Good. Re-sign Denard Span for however many years it takes!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:19 PM

        MAT just needs to slow his game down and hopefully come back and show he belongs. Like you, I’m concerned he could be AAAA.

  4. David Proctor - May 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

    I’ve said this before, but watching Max every five days makes you really appreciate what an ace is. We’ve had great starting pitching the last few years. Jordan Zimmermann in particular has been outstanding.

    But watching Scherzer , we’ve never had a pitcher on his level. The intensity, the execution, the consistency–we just haven’t had it. It’s one of those deals where you have to experience it to realize what you were missing. Max is an ace in every sense of the word. He’s on a clear tier above the others, even when they’re pitching to their capabilities. That’s nothing against them because, as I said, they’re great pitchers. It’s just a testament to how great Max is.

    Also, we need to appreciate how nails Storen has been. He’ll blow another save at some point, but even tonight where had two weak hits against him, he didn’t panic and got the strikeouts he needed.

    • ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 9:54 PM

      +1 on both

    • scmargenau - May 22, 2015 at 10:38 PM

      Spot on DP.

      And this best thing is his drive and attitude. You see him hustle around the bases and how pumped he was? We all said we needed a leader, max and bryce are filling that void.

    • ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 9:55 PM

      No link? Or broken?

    • ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      The new link worked. Wow, that is sad. One more reason to like Rizzo!

      • manassasnatsfan - May 22, 2015 at 10:32 PM

        The whole team there is going to hell in a hand basket.

      • ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 11:03 PM

        Hopefully the trolls here will go there!

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      Did you also read the link within the story about the Marlin’s president misreading a weather app and failing to close their retractable roof in time to prevent a rain delay? Incredible stuff.

      What’s the over/under on the demoted GM’s lifespan as manager?

  5. ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 9:52 PM

    That is a bit more than I expected from the team at the start of the season. And we are missing 2 key players, and other guys are dinged up. Harper – is he merely playing up to his potential, now that he is healthy? The longer this “hot streak” goes, the more it will become the norm. Just fun to watch.

    Lastly, this is an organization that clearly knows how to develop players. That bodes well for MAT, who showed today that he still needs to work on some things.

    GYFNG!

  6. David Proctor - May 22, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    Sounds like there’s trouble in NY. Matt Harvey has complained to both management and the media about their idea of going to a 6 man rotation.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      Fine. Stick with five and shut him down in mid- to late-August.

  7. AlexandriaNatFan - May 22, 2015 at 10:03 PM

    “The Bear was steadfast tonight.” Lol. +1

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 22, 2015 at 10:17 PM

    What’s going on with the comments? Beautiful night at the park…. had a great time…

  9. ehay2k - May 22, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    A-Roid ties Ruth on all-time RBI list. Glad he didnt do it here.

  10. David Proctor - May 22, 2015 at 10:27 PM

    James Wagner ‏@JamesWagnerWP 2m2 minutes ago

    Scherzer said to Barrett after the game: “We win in this clubhouse. If that means you have to win the national anthem standoff, go ahead.”

  11. manassasnatsfan - May 22, 2015 at 10:27 PM

    FYI

    4 high schools friends and their spouses (I am one of the 4) are going to Chicago then Cincinnati.

    Here’s my jersey lineup

    Monday JZim or Roark
    Tuesday JZim or Roark
    Wednesday RZim
    Friday Harper
    Saturday Desmond
    Sunday Fister

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 22, 2015 at 11:27 PM

      I like it, but I’d drop Roark lower in the order, have him hit in front of Desmond. Of course, he’s starting that Tuesday game, so you don’t have much choice.

      • NatsNut - May 23, 2015 at 8:36 AM

        LOL!

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 3:18 PM

        He is pitching Mon and JZim on Tuesday, so I know the order now.

  12. Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    Scherzer said to Barrett after the game: “We win in this clubhouse. If that means you have to win the national anthem standoff, go ahead.”

    Matt Williams didn’t like that it caused Scherzer to circle the mound 3 times while Barrett did his thing but if it didn’t bother Scherzer than alrighty.

  13. David Proctor - May 22, 2015 at 10:30 PM

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:03 PM

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2015 at 11:05 PM

      And don’t you need an asterisk on that top one?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        Truth to that.

      • thelatencn - May 23, 2015 at 8:53 AM

        I’d put an asterik (a, as in altitude) on the third one, too. That would leave just Harper and the Babe.

  15. sec105rowwseat28 - May 22, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    CROWD LOWLIGHT: Doing the wave while Storen is trying to record a save in the top of the ninth. We drove the Phillies fans out of town for this?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM

      At least this time very few participated. Just shows the fanbase is getting smarter.

      • sec105rowwseat28 - May 22, 2015 at 11:23 PM

        It went around the entire stadium one whole time. Including the seats right behind the Nats dugout where supposedly the most hardcore of fans are sitting. Too many bozos on this bus, still. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wave at an Orioles game. Give their fans credit for that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:27 PM

        No, but at Orioles games they have bozos who run onto the field which is something that is rare at any other stadium. Orioles have their own sets of unique fan issues. I take Nats fans any day over theirs but the wave thing, yeesh.

        This wave thing while the Nats are pitching is ridiculous. Didn’t realize it made it around the stadium. I saw it when it was fizzled out.

      • Bruxtun - May 23, 2015 at 12:02 AM

        I’ve definitely been at Camden Yards when people were doing the wave. Years ago, but I saw it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 9:02 AM

        Bruxtun, thanks for that news. I sometimes wonder if 105 is an Orioles fan based on his/her comments.

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:14 PM

    Look how high the pitch was that Bryce hit out. That’s nuts. I remember when Stanton did that against Soriano and there’s only a few players that can get on top of those pitches. Bryce has climbed into a new league. He knew the pitch that was coming and just got enough of it. For almost all other players it’s either a swing-through strike or a popup or a foul back to the screen.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 22, 2015 at 11:17 PM

      I hit the report button and did not mean to. Please moderators ignore that.

      Hunter Pence says hello!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:20 PM

        LOL, what he did to JZim wasn’t fair. That was even higher than that Bryce pitch.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:32 PM

      I think Mark owes me a drink:

  17. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    That is such a sad story that Candice posted about the Fish. I had/have them finishing 2nd in the division in my office pool. Feel especially bad for the fans that paid for that event and didnt get to meet a single player…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:34 PM

      That hit a new low. Consolation prize was meeting GM/Manager/Son Dan Jennings and Owner/DBag Loria.

      • ArVAFan - May 23, 2015 at 7:22 AM

        Enjoy your tax deduction, folks, that was probably the best part of the evening.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 9:04 AM

        The fire sale is about to begin. BTW, both Henderson Alvarez and Latos to the DL.

  18. Theophilus T.S. - May 22, 2015 at 11:29 PM

    Watching Scherzer cutting the corner at 3B, his intent was much better than Taylor’s big wheel a couple of nights ago. The difference between Scherzer and Srasburg is that Scherzer loves every aspect of the game. Syrasburg pitches not to lose. Scherzer plays to put his foot on the throat of every player on the other team.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:37 PM

      Yes, and he has conviction of his pitches. Look how well that he and Ramos handle the game. They have just been on the same page. I love how they change the eye level and move in and out. Just so smart.

      • ehay2k - May 23, 2015 at 11:52 AM

        Same page? To me, Scherzer shakes off more pitches than anyone else. He has the plan, not Ramos. Just my eyes though.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 11:56 AM

        They seemed totally in sync. I’m sure some were true shakeoffs and some could be decoys. I will rewatch the game later.

  19. Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2015 at 11:32 PM

    Thinking about Mets and the notion of a six-man rotation, that means that they would have to go with one man down either in the bullpen or on the bench.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2015 at 11:39 PM

      Yep, they are trying to save Harvey to go longer into the season and while it’s creative it just isn’t smart. According to media reports I’ve read, Harvey hates the idea.

  20. Drew - May 22, 2015 at 11:45 PM

    Speaking of good Nats news:

    Trea Turner is on fire as his Padres tenure draws to a close. In 142 at bats in AA the kid is hitting .338 with a .949 OPS.

    Don’t see how they’re going to stash this kid at Potomac. Seems the Nats would want Difo and Turner to start playing together at Harrisburg.

    Which begs the question: Will they promote Renda to Syracuse to free the spot at AA?

    • scmargenau - May 23, 2015 at 12:42 AM

      Call him up, he’s ready!

    • masterfishkeeper - May 23, 2015 at 8:17 AM

      And also raises the question as to who plays SS.

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