We continue our countdown of the top ten games of the 2015 Washington Nationals season by looking back at another memorable moment involving Michael Taylor. Just like number six on our countdown, this was another game where Taylor wasn’t likely going to play, but he stepped up when the team needed him the most.
On May 13, the Nats were taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the rubber game of a three game series. Arizona would get on the board first against Gio Gonzalez in the bottom of the second on a two-out single to left by Nick Ahmed that drove in Chris Owings.
While the Nats would answer back in the top of the third on a three-run home run by Jayson Werth off Jeremy Hellickson (his second of the season), that lead would be short-lived. Arizona scored three runs in the bottom of the third on a double by Paul Goldschmidt, a groundout by A.J. Pollock, and Aaron Hill reaching on an error by Ian Desmond.
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Pollock would tack on one more run in the bottom of the fifth with a RBI single to left that drove in Goldschmidt. It was a rough day for Gonzalez, who was even yelled at by manager Matt Williams during the game. The Nats’ left-hander went five innings, gave up five runs on nine hits, struck out three, and walked two on 84 pitches (56 strikes).
In the top of the sixth inning, the Nats were able to tie the game when Tyler Moore hit a two-run home run against left-handed reliever, Randall Delgado that went off the foul pole in left field. It was Moore’s second home run of the year.
Outside of Taylor’s heroics, the most interesting aspect of this game occurred in the seventh inning. With two outs, Bryce Harper struck out swinging against Oliver Perez. The home plate umpire, Rob Drake, ruled that Harper went around on the third strike. After arguing the call, Harper and Williams were eventually thrown out of the game.
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The game would remain tied until the bottom of the eighth. The inning began when Ender Inciarte reached on an error by Desmond, his second of the game. Matt Thornton, who started the inning, would eventually leave the game for Aaron Barrett. Inciarte was caught stealing, but the D’Backs put two men on later in the inning. Then, Yasmany Tomas hit a pinch-hit single to center that scored Mark Trumbo to give Arizona a 6-5 lead.
Addison Reed would try to close it out for Arizona, but the Nats mounted a one-out rally. Denard Span and Yunel Escobar had back-to-back singles and Werth drew a walk to load the bases. Then, Taylor, who was pinch-hitting for Harper, hit a 1-0 fastball over the wall in center for a grand slam. Taylor’s third home run of the season put the Washington Nationals up 9-6 and they did not look back.