The spirit of game #76 has a great comeback win!

Kevin Long with Daniel Murphy. Photo by Lee Heiman for TalkNats

Pick your star of the game? Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Wilmer Difo, Adam Eaton or Brian Goodwin? Maybe all of them. It was a great team win to rally from 4-runs down to show the national television audience on ESPN’s Sunday Night game that the demise of the Washington Nationals was greatly exaggerated.

Plus we need to give some credit to Shawn Kelley, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle out of the bullpen with a big hat-tip to the defense for some amazing plays by Wilmer Difo who had two incredible plays and Anthony Rendon added a golden play in the 9th inning.

“That’s how championships are won — games like that,” manager Dave Martinez said. “This is a great win for us. I know they’ll feed off of it.”

You would like to say that Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are off the schneid as each had clutch 3-hit nights, and it was Murphy who had the tying and game winning RBI with his 2-run single that just went over the Phillies second baseman’s head. Michael Taylor had 3-hits of his own and redeemed himself after a bases loaded strikeout. Trea Turner came up big from the lead-off spot with an RBI triple, a single, a run scored and a stolen base. Rendon got the Nats on the board in this game with a booming home run and later had a clutch RBI double.

Michael A. Taylor once again learned that less is more as his two singles drove in a run each time and was a lot better than his 5th inning bases loaded strikeout when the Nationals trailed 6-to-2. Taylor reverted back to “bad MAT” when he swung from his heals at 3 straight pitches out of the zone to end the Nationals threat — empty. There is a lesson to be learned by Taylor that his recent success has been achieved by a controlled contact game which he found again later in the game — luckily.

Click here for the Daniel Murphy 2-run single which in a funny irony was an Andy Roddick forehand tennis lob over the net. The net we will call 5′-10″ César Hernández. For the irony part for anyone watching the ESPN broadcast, they played a commercial of former tennis star Andy Roddick and his wife Brooklyn Decker right before the inning.

“I was watching some film on [Seranthony Dominguez],” said Murphy. “And he had gotten going with the slider as a kill-shot to a couple lefties. So once I got to 2 strikes, I was aware of it. …Fortunately, I was able to get it in the air enough and kind of scoop it over Cesar’s head over there at second base.”

Bryce Harper set a personal record with 3-doubles in a game, and he showed it isn’t how you start — but how you finish. Harper began the game with two straight strikeouts without seeing a pitch that he would take for a ball. Starter Nick Pivetta seemed to challenge Harper with big heaters, and the one thing that I mentioned to people who were frustrated was that Harper’s mechanics were good at least, and he has forced pitchers to throw him pitches over the plate, and he just needed to time up some pitches. Harper was close to the plate, stance more closed, and he was swinging all game a Chandler bat that he pulled from his closet. That vintage bat sure did have some magic in it. Harper turned his 0-2 to a 3-5 when his team needed him most, and he showed some great hustle and emotion.

“I’ve said it every day — I think getting pitches over the plate — it’s huge,” Harper said. “I didn’t get any pitches over the plate the first at-bat; maybe one or two. Then I chased, and chased again the second at-bat. My swing feels great. I just got to get a pitch over the plate that I can drive.”


In all, the Nationals tallied 17-hits with 4 walks, and every Nationals position starter got on base at least twice except for the hard-luck Pedro Severino who left 5-men on-base. Both Nationals pinch-hitters got on base also. Adam Eaton had a single, and Brian Goodwin worked a key lead-off walk in that 3-run 8th inning. As it usually goes, lead-off walks are killers, and tonight that was once again the case.

Starter Jefrey Rodriguez was not at his best while pitching to a high pitch count of 87-pitches through the 4th inning and the 38 minute rain delay probably should have ended his night — but it did not, and he came out for the 5th inning and walked the lead-off man plus a hit and Sammy Solis relieved him and allowed both inherited runners to score plus two more as the Phillies ran their lead to 6-to-2 from what was a tie game. It kind of looked like deja vu all over again with Fedde coming back for the 7th inning with a 97-pitch count in a 2-to-2 tie game.

On this day though, it was the Nats offense fueled by Harper and Murphy that got this win and covered the many failures in this game. All you have to do is look at the runners left-on-base stats for Rendon, Taylor, Difo, and Severino to know that each left at least 4 runners on base. In the end, Daniel Murphy picked up the team in a 2-strike count against fireball reliever Seranthony Domínguez who was charged with a blown-save and the loss.

With this win, the Nationals are now tied in the season series with the Phillies at 3-games each. Next weekend the Nationals travel back to Philadelphia for a 4-game series that begins on Thursday. The Nationals win 8-to-6 and fly out in an hour to Tampa, Florida. The team will get to sleep between 5am and 6am. Gio Gonzalez matches up with Tampa’s ace, Blake Snell, for Monday night’s game.

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