After last night’s game against the New York Mets (89-71) was postponed, the Washington Nationals (82-78) played game one of a doubleheader this afternoon at Citi Field. The Nats’ offense managed only three hits, but two of them went over the fence. The difference in this game was Bryce Harper as the likely National League MVP hit a two-run homer in the eighth to lift the Nats to a 3-1 win as they try to ruin the Mets’ chances at getting home-field advantage against the Dodgers in the NLDS.
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It was a pitcher’s duel this afternoon as Gio Gonzalez and Noah Syndergaard did not give up a run through the first six innings. The Mets’ best chance against Gonzalez came in the third inning when they drew three walks to load the bases, but Michael Cuddyer grounded out to shortstop to end the inning. Gonzalez went six innings, gave up no runs on three hits, struck out seven, and walked three on 107 pitches (64 strikes) in a no-decision.
As for Syndergaard, he was dominant in this game. Before the seventh inning, the only hit against the Mets’ right-hander was a leadoff double by Matt den Dekker in the third. Washington had first and third with no one out in the inning, but they were unable to get the run home.
Then, on the first batter of the seventh inning, Syndergaard made his only mistake of the game. Clint Robinson took a 1-2 curveball and hit it over the wall in right field. Robinson’s tenth home run of the season put the Nats up 1-0. Syndergaard went seven innings, gave up one run on two hits, struck out ten, and walked one on 101 pitches (70 strikes) in the no-decision.
After Gonzalez left the game, Blake Treinen took the mound for the Nats to pitch the bottom of the seventh. Treinen would give up a leadoff walk to Duda and allow a base hit to Ruben Tejada. Two batters later, with runners at the corners, Matt Grace gave up a RBI single to Juan Lagares that tied the game at one. Rafael Martin (2-0, 5.11 ERA) would enter the game for Grace and he struck out David Wright to keep the game tied.
In the top of the eighth, Anthony Rendon drew a one out walk against Addison Reed (3-3, 3.40). Then, Yunel Escobar hit a possible double play ball, but Daniel Murphy initially bobbled the ball at second and then Ruben Tejada threw the ball away to keep the inning alive.
That would prove costly as Harper made them pay by hitting a 1-1 slider into the upper deck in right for a two-run shot. Harper’s 42nd home run of the season put Washington ahead, 3-1. With that home run, he is now tied with Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado for the NL home run lead and he is now one RBI shy of 100 for the season.
After Harper’s home run, Casey Janssen and Felipe Rivero would get the final six batters in order to seal the victory. Martin would end up getting the win while Rivero recorded his second save of the year.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals will play game two of their doubleheader against the New York Mets tonight at Citi Field. You can catch the game on MASN2 at 7:10 PM ET. Max Scherzer (13-12, 2.91) gets the start for the Nats against Matt Harvey (13-7, 2.80) for the Mets.