Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper lead the way in Nationals’ win over Astros


After a game full of missed opportunities that resulted in a scoreless tie with the Tigers yesterday, the Nationals’ offense finally broke through in today’s game against the Astros as the team defeated Houston, 7-5.

The Nationals got things going early on, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Danny Espinosa drove in the first run with an RBI double to right field. Espinosa went on to score on an RBI single off the bat of Tyler Moore, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead. The Nationals made it a three-run game after Jose Lobaton drew a bases-loaded walk, before scoring their fourth run of the inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kevin Frandsen.

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The early run support was more than enough for Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who pitched very well in his fourth (and longest) Grapefruit League start.

Scherzer was sharp all day long, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six batters over five innings of work. While the right-hander still has a couple of starts to go before being ready for Opening Day, he looks to be in mid-season form and poised for a strong start to the regular season. The only real question for Scherzer right now is if he’ll be starting for the Nationals on Opening Day or later in that series against the Mets.

Today was also a good day for Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, who clobbered a 1-0 pitch from Astros pitcher Jake Buchanan over the wall in right-center field in the fourth inning. The homer was Harper’s first of the spring and gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead.

But the Astros weren’t going away quietly and slowly began chipping away at the Nationals’ lead. Houston made it a 5-1 game in the fourth inning when Jason Castro homered against Scherzer. Houston would cut Washington’s lead to 5-3 on a two-run homer by Luis Valbuena in the 6th inning.

The Nationals got a run back on a solo shot by Kila Ka’aihue in the top of the seventh inning, but Houston would make things very close in the late innings. The Astros made it a one-run game in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez and a sacrifice fly by Max Stassi.

Fortunately, Ka’aihue once again had his team’s back in the top of the ninth inning. Ka’aihue made it a  two-run game on an RBI double in the ninth, and the Nationals were finally able to cling to that lead and defeat the Astros, 7-5.

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