Nats Bats Awaken After Harvey Departs


After playing like the 2013 Nationals for seven innings on Friday night, Washington jumped in the not-so-way-back machine and put together two innings reminiscent of the 2012 version, overturning a three-run deficit and picking up a 6-4 over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The catalyst for the turnaround was the departure of Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, who showed everyone why he is considered the front-runner to start for the National League at the All-Star Game. The rookie threw seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits while fanning 11 batters. But his 109th pitch was his last, and the Nationals were able to take advantage against the New York bullpen, coming from behind to pick up what manager Davey Johnson told reporters “might’ve been our biggest win of the year.”

Ian Desmond homered and drove in the game-winning run for the Nats in Friday’s win over the Mets. (Image: Joe Camporeale, USA Today)

It was a win very much in the style of many from 2012, the team able to fight back in late-inning pressure situations, scoring runs off closers and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Yet again, the Nationals feel like this game could be a springboard to bigger and better things, with the impending return of both Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos from the disabled list adding to the positive vibe around the Washington clubhouse.

The vibe was anything but positive early in Friday’s affair, as Harvey was on point with each of the pitches in his impressive arsenal. The rookie didn’t allow a baserunner until Ian Desmond‘s long home run in the fifth inning, a run that negated an unearned tally the Mets scored in the bottom of the fourth. The throwing error by Desmond was his first miscue in 60 games, a streak of defensive mastery that has coincided nicely with his offensive surge and subsequent All-Star push.

Unfortunately for Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, he handed the lead right back. An RBI double by former Nat Marlon Byrd and an RBI single by Josh Satin closed the book on Detwiler, who only managed five innings on his 98 pitches on the evening, still not looking completely comfortable since his return from the disabled list.

Satin added an insurance RBI in the seventh against Ross Ohlendorf, but the most significant moment of the game came when David Aardsma trotted out to begin the eighth inning on the hill for the Mets. Harvey was so dominant, anyone new would have looked like a better option, and the Nationals took advantage of their opportunity.

Aardsma departed with two outs and Roger Bernadina on first, giving way for left-hander Josh Edgin to battle Denard Span, who has been miserable against lefties this season. Except here, as Span doubled. Now Brandon Lyon took over, but he promptly walked Anthony Rendon to load the bases for Ryan Zimmerman, who did not miss.

Zimmerman clubbed a bases-clearing double into left-center to tie the game, steal a victory from Harvey and turn the game into a bullpen battle. As the ninth inning came up and Mets closer Bobby Parnell came on, Nats fans could be excused for hoping for extra innings, given the way Washington has struggled in the ninth inning or later in games. Except here …

Jayson Werth led off the ninth with a hustle double, bringing up that man again, Desmond. And again, he delivered, lining a ball just inside the bag at first for the go-ahead hit. He later came in on a sacrifice fly by Kurt Suzuki, setting the stage for Drew Storen to shut the door on New York.

Washington will now hand the ball to Taylor Jordan, freshly summoned from AA Harrisburg, for his major league debut in Saturday’s matinee. Jordan has sparkled between Potomac and Harrisburg this season, compiling a 9-1 record and a 1.00 ERA in 14 starts. He’ll face New York’s Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.82)