Harper’s 20th Home Run Not Enough As Washington Nationals Lose 6-1 To Yankees

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The premier pitching matchup in Major League Baseball on Tuesday night was Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer taking on New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. As anticipated, both pitchers were dealing. The Nats hitters were having trouble laying off Tanaka’s splitter in the dirt. Even though many of the Yankees hitters have seen Scherzer’s stuff before when he was pitching in the AL, they were having trouble mustering anything against him.

Ultimately Tanaka got the win, and Scherzer took the loss, which was his second loss in a row.  Scherzer was pushed too far in his start, and he and the Nationals paid the price with the loss. Denard Span was a late scratch from the lineup with continuing back issues. Michael Taylor took his place in center field. Yunel Escobar was the DH and batted lead off in place of Span.

The Yankees scored first in the bottom of the third when Stephen Drew hit a home run over the short right field porch for his eighth home run of the season. Bryce Harper answered right back in the top of the fourth with a home run to dead center, his 20th of the season to center field, which tied the game at one.

The Nats couldn’t get many base runners on against Tanaka and when they did. they couldn’t capitalize. Escobar singled in his second at-bat in the top of the fourth, but that was erased on a double play ball hit by Anthony Rendon. That was unfortunate because Harper hit his home run right after that double play. In the top of the sixth, Escobar doubled with two out. However, Rendon grounded out on a weak, check swing ball back to Tanaka to end the inning.

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The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Mark Teixeira doubled and then Brian McCann singled, sending Teixeira to third. With runners on the corners, Carlos Beltran hit a ball to center field that Michael Taylor may have caught and then dropped. He came up firing and got McCann at second. Unbelievably, Teixeira did not go home on the play, which cost the Yankees a run. Didi Gregorius struck out to end the inning and Scherzer got out of the inning with no damage.

Harper did Tanaka a favor to lead off the top of the seventh. He tried to bunt for a base hit with two strikes and bunted it foul for strike three. Clint Robinson and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back singles with two outs, but Ian Desmond flew out to center to end the Nats threat.

The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the seventh. After Scherzer had a long and tough inning in the bottom of the sixth, he came out to pitch the seventh.  Max got Drew to ground out for the first out of the inning, but then gave up back-to- back singles to Ramon Flores and Brett Gardner. Max got Chase Headley to fly out to right.

Scherzer was up to 115 pitches and had nothing left in the tank. He had to deal with Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod hit a low ground ball to Desmond who tried to throw Flores out at third, but had no throwing lane.The ball hit Flores and skipped away, allowing him to score. Desmond had a play on the slow running Rodriguez at first, which would have ended the inning. Scherzer left the game as the potential losing pitcher only having given up two runs.

Matt Thornton came in to pitch to McCann, who sent a ball down the right field line, which scored two more runs. Beltran singled to left and another run scored. Thornton got Gregorius to line out to end the inning, but the damage was done. The Nats bullpen did not hold the line again, and the team was  down 5-1 with two innings to go.

Dellin Betances came out of the Yankees bullpen to pitch the top of the eighth. The Nats could do nothing against the hard throwing right hander as Betances retired the Nats in order.

Taylor Hill pitched the bottom of the eighth for the Nats. The first batter he faced, Stephen Drew, hit his second home run of the night and ninth of the season to make the score 6-1 in favor of the Yanks.

The Yankees called on Chasen Shreve to finish out the game. Rendon flew out to center and Harper doubled to left. Zimmerman grounded out to the pitcher and Harper couldn’t advance to third. After Clint Robinson drew a walk, Shreve was taken out for the closer, Andrew Miller, who was brought in to face Ramos in a non-save situation. Ramos battled, but grounded out to short to end the game.The Nationals have now lost nine of their last eleven games.

Next Game: The Nationals (30-28) wrap up their two game series against the Yankees (33-25) on Wednesday afternoon at 1:05 pm EST. You can catch the game on MASN. Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 4.57 ERA) pitches for the Nats, while Nathan Eovaldi (5-1, 4.16 ERA) throws for the Yankees.

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