MAT and TTO lead the offense; Doolittle Saves!

The Nationals won a wild one by the final score of 11-to-10 over the Phillies. When the game started off with a shaky Max Scherzer, you had a feeling this was not going to be a normal night of baseball. In the top of the first inning, Max Scherzer walked two batters before surrendering a 3-run home run.

“That’s what you kick yourself over,” Max Scherzer said. “I was trying to throw a fastball [inside] on Williams, and I left it over the middle of the plate. That happens. I can live with that. It’s the walks that drive me nuts. I can’t just allow free passes to happen.”

The Nationals then went on a scoring spree when they plated 7 unanswered runs which included a bases loaded inside-the-park-home-run off the bat of Michael Taylor on a line drive that was misread by the Phillies centerfielder Odubel Herrera. After the ball went over Herrera’s head, he jogged to it while Taylor was sprinting around the bases. It was the first grand slam inside-the-park-home-run in Nationals history!

In some irony, Michael Taylor was the centerfielder when the Phillies Aaron Altherr hit a grand slam inside-the-park-home-run in 2015 when Taylor dove for a sinking liner and he missed it as it rolled past him. Of course Taylor was also the fielder last year when MAT misplayed Yasiel Puig‘s groundball single into a walk-off inside-the-park-home-run in which Howie Kendrick scored in front of Puig.

Baseball has a way of evening things out as Taylor got his inside-the-park-grand-slam-home-run finally as 2 years ago to this same day he had one ruled a single and a 3-base error on Yoenis Cespedes. We refer to this as a “Little League” grand slam home run.

Tonight, Michael Taylor was the star on offense and defense as MAT also threw a runner out at the plate. Actually, Michael Taylor and Trea Turner were both one hit away from hitting for a cycle. Taylor needed a double and Turner needed a triple. Both players are making an impact “up the middle” for this Nationals’ team.

“[Michael Taylor] is impacting the game both defensively and offensively,” Max Scherzer said. “And on the bases. He’s taking bases. He’s playing outstanding, Gold Glove center field defense for us. Robbing home runs, making diving catches. He’s doing everything he can to help us win ballgames.”

The great news is Michael Taylor is struggling no more in his return from the disabled list. This was also a big breakout game for Trea Turner who also was on the disabled list until recently and if not for Taylor’s big night, we would be headlining Trea’s home run, double and single that were all key hits in the game. The Nationals offense had 16 hits tonight, and they also batted .667 in pinch-hitting as both Raudy Read and Andrew Stevenson came up big in situational hitting.

For the Nats’ pitchers, they gave up 10 earned runs and 9 of them came from a trio of 3-run home runs by three different pitchers: Max Scherzer, Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley.

“I don’t think I’ve ever won a game when the opposition hits 3 three-run homers,” Dusty Baker said.

Yes, it is rare to win a game when you give up 3 home runs let alone 3 that scored 9 combined runs. Fortunately Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler, and Sean Doolittle did their jobs holding the Phillies scoreless and Albers and Kintzler were credited with “holds” and Sean Doolittle earned his 16th save for the Nats in that wild 9th inning when he had to relieve Shawn Kelley in a 1-run game.

The Nationals moved to 33 games over .500 with this win improving to a record of 87-and-54 while pushing the Magic Number down to 3 which means the earliest the Nationals could clinch the NL East would be Sunday.

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