Jul 22, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals insisted all along they weren’t going to place extra emphasis on this series, no matter how big the Mets tried to make it. Well, down to their last four outs and in danger of seeing their lead in the division fall to one measly game, the Nats might have suddenly felt a sense of urgency at last. And thanks to a couple huge hits by Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa, they stole this game back, took the series and dealt their chief NL East rival a big blow.
Taylor’s 2-out, 2-run single to left off Bobby Parnell in the bottom of the eighth turned a 2-run deficit into a tie game. And after he stole second, the Nationals rookie outfielder then scored on Espinosa’s opposite-field double, giving the Nats their first lead of the day and leaving the sellout crowd of 41,291 jumping up and down in celebration.
The victory did come at a potential cost, with Yunel Escobar appearing to suffer a left wrist injury during his second-inning at-bat, ultimately walking directly off the field after fouling off a pitch and dropping his bat in obvious pain. If the veteran third baseman is seriously injured, he would become the fifth member of the Nationals’ regular lineup to take up space on the DL.
That, though, only made Wednesday’s come-from-behind win sweeter, because it was sorely needed on a day that was looking mighty bad for the Nats. Instead, they now head to Pittsburgh with a 3-game lead on New York, hoping they can now start getting some of these injured regulars back in their lineup.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: He still has his rookie moments, but Taylor has sure delivered his share of big moments as well this summer. He had already driven in the Nationals’ first run of the day with a 2-out single to left in the bottom of the fourth. Then he delivered an even bigger one in the bottom of the eighth. With the count 3-2 after a wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position, he drilled a sharp single to left as the crowd exploded. That gives Taylor 35 RBI in 256 at-bats this season, not bad at all for a rookie who has mostly hit first or eighth in the Nationals’ lineup.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: For the most part, Zimmermann was quite effective. But a ragged top of the fourth kind of spoiled his outing. The Mets strung together four hits in the frame, including back-to-back 2-out RBI knocks from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kevin Plawecki. Otherwise, Zimmermann was solid, putting only three other batters on base and letting only one other reach scoring position. He finished strong, too, retiring the last seven batters he faced before departing with his pitch count at 102.
KEY STAT: Bryce Harper’s 6.6 WAR (according to Baseball-Reference’s formula) through 92 games already ranks as the second-best season in Nationals club history. Only Ryan Zimmerman’s 7.3 WAR in 2009 was better.
UP NEXT: The Nats head out of town for a tough, 10-game road trip, with plenty more elite pitchers waiting for them. It begins Thursday in Pittsburgh, when Francisco Liriano (5-6, 2.98) starts for the Pirates against Doug Fister (3-5, 4.30) at 7:05 p.m.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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