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Nats 5, Yankees 4 (11): Span caps late rally to avoid sweep

Jun 10, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: As was the case Tuesday night, the Nationals and Yankees found themselves in a tight pitchers’ duel for six innings. And as was the case Tuesday, the Yankees then busted out for four runs in the seventh to take the lead. This time, though, the Nats stormed back to tie the game … and then won it in extra innings.

The Nationals held a 2-0 lead after six thanks to Danny Espinosa’s homer and back-to-back doubles by Espinosa and Denard Span, plus Gio Gonzalez’s strong start. But Gonzalez faded in the seventh, and the Nats bullpen couldn’t stop the bleeding. The Yankees scored four runs off Felipe Rivero and Aaron Barrett, with some help from an ailing Span (whose bad bad may have prevented him from tracking down a pair of deep flyballs to center) and a lucky bounce of a grounder off second base.

Down to their last six outs, the Nationals turned to a familiar face to save the day: Michael Taylor. The rookie outfielder (inserted for defense the previous inning) delivered again at the plate, driving a 2-run, opposite-field homer to tie the game in the top of the eighth. It was Taylor’s fifth homer of the season, the last four of which all tied or gave the Nats the lead in the fifth inning or later.

And this one proved really meaningful, thanks to the Nationals’ game-winning rally in the 11th. Tyler Moore started it off with a single to left, then advanced 180 feet on a sac bunt and a groundball. That set the stage for Span, who despite a bad back that sidelined him Tuesday night, managed to leg out a chopper to second base for his third hit of the day. This one was the biggest of all, giving the Nationals a much-needed win and a series split.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: This notion would’ve sounded ludicrous three months ago, but it’s absolutely true right now: The Nationals need to find ways to get Espinosa in their lineup on a regular basis. He has made that so by completely revamping his left-handed swing, and the results have been staggering. With a 3-hit performance Wednesday (including a solo homer in the fifth), Espinosa now sports a .238/.340/.451 slash line from the left side of the plate, with a sizable increase in home run rate (from 2 percent to 5 percent) and a sizable decrease in strikeout rate (from 37 percent to 24 percent). So, how do the Nats keep him in the lineup? Well, with Jayson Werth out til August and his replacements struggling, Espinosa looks like a good bet to get his first career start in left field sometime soon.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This was among the best starts Gonzalez has put together all season, though it ended sooner and not as positive as the lefty would have liked. Gonzalez carried a shutout into the seventh, displaying solid command of both his fastball and curveball. He was fairly efficient (by his usual standards) but not quite efficient enough to give Matt Williams the seven full innings he coveted. Gonzalez wound up getting pulled at 103 pitches, recording only one out in the seventh. Overall, though, the Nats have to be pleased with the way the left-hander looked on this day.

KEY STAT: For the first time in his professional career, Bryce Harper faced a pitcher young than him. Left-hander Jacob Lindgren (22 years, 90 days) entered in the top of the eighth and got Harper (22 years, 237 days) to fly out to left.

UP NEXT: This odd, three-parts-of-the-country road trip continues with a 4-game weekend series in Milwaukee. Thursday’s 8:10 p.m. EDT opener features Tanner Roark (2-2, 3.16) vs. veteran right-hander Matt Garza (4-7, 5.09).

  1. Joe Seamhead - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    Baby Taylor, Span, Espinosa Gio, Treinen, Rivero, Barrett,Storen all deserve a big hand!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:48 PM

      Uh Tyler Moore scores the winning run off a leadoff single in a 1-2 count!!!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:48 PM

      Uh Tyler Moore scores the winning run off a leadoff single in a 1-2 count!!!!

      • natsdial8 - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM

        and the point is 🙂 What took you so long Skip ?

      • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:50 PM

        And after two productive outs! In a row! Imagine that!

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:52 PM

        Sorry, didn’t mean to slight him.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:53 PM

        Or give credit to Barrett. Wasn’t good

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:54 PM

        Clint Robinson helped today to be pulled for Michael Taylor who homered in his spot.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:50 PM

      Barrett? Huh? What did he do? Blast to A-Rod!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      Let me re-write that: Baby Taylor, Span, Espinosa, MooreGio,Treinen, Jansen, and Storen all deserve a big hand.

      • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:56 PM

        hear hear!

        huzzah!

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:59 PM

        Oh, for an edit option. Of course, I’m the only one that could use one.
        Sorry, I screwed up again.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:08 PM

        Thank you thank you. Frame that up. We had GT today .

        GT = Good Treinen
        BB = Bad Barrett

      • infideljack - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:07 PM

        Treinen has upside, Barrett is AAA.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 8:52 PM

        People are worried about Strasburg’s brain, I’m more concerned about Barrett’s.

  2. David Proctor - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    Gio pitched very well. That call in the 10th offset that horrible luck of the ball hitting the bag. I think he was safe, but the other play cost us a run so it evens out.

    Great job by Taylor, Espinosa (who WILL be starting in LF tomorrow), Treinen and Gio who pitched great.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      2 earned in 6 is decent. Bullpen didn’t help him.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      I also thought it looked like he was safe. Maybe the replay decisions even out over the season, like everything else does. If so, seems like we are due for some more to go our way. 😉

      • nataddicted - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:57 PM

        I think he was safe too. The ump had the play going away from him and don’t think he saw the tag. Because the ball came first, out was what he said. The tag missed the torso and the hand got in there.

        Repost from the game thread:

        Ray just said that MAT’s 5 Dingers, all either tied the game or put the Nats ahead. Clutch!

    • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      following along on game day — what was the “ball hitting the bag” play?

  3. adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    During the game thread, I wrote, after noting that after 58 games we were at 30-28:

    Last year, the 96-win 2014 season, after our first 58 games we were . . . . 30-28.

    jd responded:

    So the 10 game win streak is right around the corner. Right?

    I responded:

    That happened last time I said something like this (in late April!!)

    Just sayin’ 😉

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      Good job!!!!

      • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:55 PM

        In fact, I think it was _you_ the previous time! I noted something about a bad early season record (that Boz had said), and you said, “well, that was right before a 10 game winning streak” — and, presto!

        (FWIW, I’m trying to share the credit here — with both you and jd! 😉 )

        And credit also to MNF who had Espi on draft kings 😉

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:57 PM

        I just kept saying the Nats would go on a long winning streak as “Youre never as bad as you look when you’re losing”.

        Nats were the luckier team today. Yankees were close to HRs a few times.

        Espi and Taylor got them!!!!

  4. natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    Like I said, time for the sequel, aka part two (does FP read comments here or what?). Nicely done, fellas, nicely done.

    natsfan1a – Jun 10, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    Likewise on the hoping. Maybe it’s time for a Swedish Owl-inspired “man up: the sequel.”

  5. adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    Hey, the hot Yanks were riding a 7 game winning streak coming into today, eh?

    Maybe, with our going to visit the Brewers, we can start one of our own . . .

    • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      Yes, please. Starting out with a happy flight.

  6. David Proctor - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    Andrew Miller going on the DL. That explains why we didn’t see him today. Still curious why no Betances, but I’m not complaining.

    • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      Still curious why no Betances, but I’m not complaining.

      I had those same two thoughts

      • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:04 PM

        Am I the only person who thinks of Toonces when I hear Betances (and visualizing a car-driving cat)? Yes? Um, okay. Never mind.

      • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:07 PM

        it’s a mispelling of the combination of Toonces and Beyonce

      • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:09 PM

        lol, now I have an ever stranger image in my mind.

      • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:09 PM

        !!

        😉

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:58 PM

        +2.

    • jfmii - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:11 PM

      With Miller out, holding Betances for save opp that never came thanks to Taylor.

      • David Proctor - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:13 PM

        You usually see closers pitch the 9th or 10th with a tie at home, because there no longer is a save situation. Even MW does that.

  7. Tyler Babip - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:57 PM

    Good win.

  8. raleighnat - Jun 10, 2015 at 4:58 PM

    It is so funny to see the love for Espinosa. I am so happy for him.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:02 PM

      Me, too. I was kinda hoping he’d get a triple, tho.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:03 PM

        Just because it would have been cool for him to hit for the cycle. Not complaining, though. Nice work, Danny.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      As much sh!t as I have shoveled on him in prior years I’m happy that I’ve been singing his praises almost the entire season. The new approach has been key.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    Girardi: Andrew Miller going to DL with strained muscle in forearm. Dellin Betances will slide in as the regular closer.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:03 PM

      Explains a lot.

    • Eric - Jun 10, 2015 at 7:11 PM

      I even thought Betances last night looked quite a bit less electric than he did in DC. Maybe the novelty just wasn’t there or he was a bit off or something.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:03 PM

    Michael Taylor with 5 impactful HRs. He’s special in big spots and will frustrate you in small spots.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:12 PM

      Unlike Desmond who comes through in the small spots and frustrates you in the big spots.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:14 PM

        Yep, he was Mr Bases Loaded last year. Awful in clutch this year but that will change. He’s making better contact

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:37 PM

      I’d like to think that is a repeatable skill for MAT, and not just luck of a very small draw, but I am not sold yet.

      Sure am happy he came thru today, tho!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 8:54 PM

        The kid doesn’t have a high WAR but this is no fluke that he has helped win a few games as the difference maker.

        If he could elevate his game during boring Low Lev at- bats he’d be statistically strong.

  11. philipd763 - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:04 PM

    Danny Espinosa has to be the comeback player of the year for the Nationals. He stopped trying hit home runs and everything fell into place. Desmond could learn a lot from him.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      Desi tried a new approach to start the season. Put him in a bad spot. He refuses to shorten up in 2 strikes.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:33 PM

        I don’t recall ever seeing Desmond shorten up with two strikes – at least not since 2011. He’s always been whiff prone.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:47 PM

        Yah, didn’t last long and didn’t stick with it

    • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:19 PM

      philipd763 — I agree with both your points

  12. Joe Seamhead - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Well, MW seemed to imply that Ghost will be right. I still think it should be Espinosa stays in the IF, and Desmond to the bench.

    • bowdenball - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:15 PM

      It’s an interesting dilemma. As Mark pointed out on twitter, even with as bad as Desmond has been he’s still hitting much better than the Nats’ mix-and-match left field group. So that suggests he should play LF to remove the weakest link in the lineup.

      But on the other hand, Taylor is an outstanding defensive player. Taylor in left and Espi at SS is clearly superior defensively to Espi in left and Desmond at SS, especially considering Desmond’s play this season.

      Tough call. Personally I’m OK with it either way.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 10, 2015 at 7:37 PM

        I’m still worried about Span’s back – he didn’t look very spry going back for fly balls today.

  13. Dave - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    The Nats win the season series over the Yankees, but aren’t they overall series winners against the Yankees since 2005? Either that or they’re tied, but I think they’re a game or two ahead, right?

  14. natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    Looks like Yankees 5, Nats 4 since 2006, if I’m reading this right:

    http://mcubed.net/mlb/wsh/nyy.shtml

    • adcwonk - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:21 PM

      right — but add in the Nats 3-1 this year, and you get: Nats 7, Yankees 6 !!

      • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:08 PM

        D’oh! I forgot to account for this year. Take that, Yankees!

    • Dave - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:35 PM

      Yep, that’s what I meant: through and including this year.

      Our Nats have always held their own against the evil empire since coming to DC.

  15. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    Espi needs an outfielders glove and 1st baseman’s glove.

    Can Esco play 1st?

    MW says they will discuss ways on the flight to work Espi in.

  16. Doc - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:33 PM

    Yanks announcers like Treinen. They have his FB as 6th best in the Bigs at 95.6. Also impressed with the sink!

  17. TheBigDummy - Jun 10, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    Great win today. If only we could get Treinen like that more consistently. His stuff is filthy.

    As far as the Danny in left or at short debate goes, I’d almost rather see him at 1st. It takes away his cannon arm, but it gets him on the field. Let Zimmerman rest the plantar fasciitis and maybe get some productivity from first base.

  18. micksback1 - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    MT has done it again

    Gio was solid

    I am so done with Barrett as I am Desi, glad team won in spite of them. Rizzo must pick up 1-2 more BP pitchers by the Fall

  19. micksback1 - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    could not be prouder of Espis the NL comeback player of the year as of today

    • ArVAFan - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:32 PM

      +1 (and here’s hoping we’re not jinxing him for the rest of the season!)

  20. senators5 - Jun 10, 2015 at 7:01 PM

    Ok, changing subjects briefly, where is Trea Turner? I thought he became a Nat in June. Is there designated date when he is allowed to move? And speaking of the move, where do you think he will be assigned?

    • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 7:07 PM

      I believe that June 13 is the date.

  21. manassasnatsfan - Jun 10, 2015 at 7:51 PM

    We win no sign of Nattygoat? Coincidence?

    Though I was sure he would show up the bottom of seventh.

  22. scmargenau - Jun 11, 2015 at 1:33 AM

    +1

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