Tonight’s hero came via the Walk-Off: Mark Reynolds

Mark Reynolds just walked-off with a moon-shot home run to win the game for the Nationals off of the reigning reliever of the month Kyle Barraclough. It was a game of inches the entire night in a tied game at 2-to-2 as the Nats loaded the bases with no-outs in the 8th inning and could not score. Once again, manager Dave Martinez went with a hunch and pulled Michael A. Taylor back and instead pinch-hit for Sean Doolittle with Reynolds. That is how you make your manager look good when Reynolds delivered the game-winner.

The Nationals with this win moved a game above .500, and saved the bullpen by keeping this game from going into extra innings. The game was started by Gio Gonzalez who labored with long counts during his 5-innings but kept pulling magic out of his cap to keep the game at a 2-to-2 tie as he was pulled after the 5th inning at 114-pitches. The Nationals turned 4 doubleplays tonight of which 3 were in support of Gio’s outing and a spectacular doubleplay was turned for Justin Miller in the 6th inning.

The bullpen was once again great as Justin Miller, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle covered the final 4-innings of the game with a one-hit shutout for the bullpen stars.

For tonight, the defense made every play and some spectacular plays. Both Harper and Eaton had some adventures tracking fly balls, but they made the plays when they counted.

“It was a big win,” Dave Martinez said.  “Just get one [run] more than the other guys.”

Pick your star of this game, and all fingers point to Mark Reynolds who delivered tonight when the Nats needed a hero. The 32,652 fans in attendance were instrumental in raising the intensity level and with bases loaded and 2-outs the crowd came to life in support of Gio Gonzalez in his final inning tonight. Gio struck out his final two batters on the night with bases loaded pitching two key strikeouts and the assist goes to those fans in attendance.

In Mark Reynolds’ tenure with the Nationals, he came in like a lion and then struck out like a lamb. Reynolds dominated upon his call-up in May hitting 4 homers in his first 6 games. He added 2 more homers before May ended and he was leading all MLB players in HR/AB.

Whether he fell into a funk or pitchers made adjustments, Reynolds was homer-less in June until last week in Philadelphia. He made some adjustments cutting down on his launch angle. In the last two weeks, Reynolds started hitting singles, and last night the memorable line drive pinch-hit home run that was hit into the Marlins bullpen. It was Reynolds second career walk-off, and a much needed game-ender for the Washington Nationals as Reynolds came through in a pinch.

“He’s actually been staying on top of the ball a lot better, not getting underneath,” Martinez said about Reynolds. “I remember he was going through a stretch where he was fouling everything straight back, straight back. I told him, just try to stay to left center field. We talked about it. Stay through the ball a little longer and get your hits.”

There’s nothing like a walk-off, and this is the first time in exactly a month that the Nats have won back-to-back games.

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