Harper homers twice as Washington Nationals pound Miami Marlins, 7-2


After a disappointing showing against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez last night, the Washington Nationals offense redeemed itself big time in a 7-2 win over the Marlins tonight. The offensive outburst was made possible by three home runs, including two off the bat of Bryce Harper.

Before the offensive explosion that we had all been waiting for began to develop, Doug Fister got the start for the Nationals and turned in a much-needed solid performance. Fister pitched six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out four and walking one.

For a while, it looked like tonight’s game would go much the same way as yesterday’s. The Nationals weren’t able to do much of anything against Marlins starter Tom Koehler for the first three innings of the game, and the Mets got on the board first against Fister.

Miami scored its first run of the game on an RBI double off the bat of Ichiro Suzuki in the bottom of the second inning. The Marlins scored another run against Fister in the fourth inning, but that was all the damage the Marlins could do against the Nationals’ right-hander.

It was an encouraging start from Fister, who finally looked like his old, dominant self on the mound. Prior to tonight’s start, Fister had given up four runs in three of his previous four starts. The right-hander’s ERA had inflated to 4.50, and many questioned whether his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy once Stephen Strasburg returns form the disabled list.

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While concerns over Fister likely won’t subside until he strings some solid starts together, today’s performance was definitely a step in the right direction. Of course, it also helped that the Nationals gave him plenty of run support.

The Nationals tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI triple by Ian Desmond. Later in the inning, Washington took a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Michael A. Taylor.

After the Marlins tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, the Nationals once again took the lead in the fifth inning—this time putting a crooked number on the board. With Yunel Escobar and Jayson Werth on base, Harper connected on a 93 mph fastball by Kohler and crushed it over the wall in right-center field. It was a three-run homer, Harper’s 28th home run of the season, and it gave the Nationals a 5-2 lead.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, Harper wasn’t done. In the eighth inning, the 22-year-old MVP candidate swung at the first pitch he saw from Marlins reliever Sam Dyson and crushed it into the upper deck in right field for his 29th home run of the season and second blast of the game, stretching the Nationals’ lead to 6-2. The Nationals scored their seventh run later in the inning on a solo shot by Taylor.

Perhaps equally encouraging as the offensive explosion was Drew Storen‘s dominant eight inning performance. The right-hander struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 inning in his first appearance since losing the closer’s role to Jonathan Papelbon. While it’s too soon to tell if Storen can adjust easily to his new role as the setup man, tonight he looked like his usual, dominant self.

It was a big win for the Nationals and an encouraging night for Fister and the offense. The team will look to secure a series win over the Fish tomorrow afternoon, when Max Scherzer takes the mound against former-Nat Dan Haren and the Marlins. First pitch for tomorrow’s game is set for 12:10 p.m. ET.

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