Washington Nationals Recap: Nats Lineup Impresses in Walk-Off Win

Mar 17, 2016; Melbourne, FL, USA: Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) runs the bases in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2016; Melbourne, FL, USA: Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) runs the bases in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nats lineup was impressive all-around this afternoon as they defeated the Braves 9-7 on a walk-off home run by Chris Heisey

In a high scoring affair that featured multiple home runs off the bat of both teams, the Washington Nationals improved to 10-3 in Grapefruit League play en route to defeating the Atlanta Braves (4-11) 9-7 on a walk-off three run homer by Chris Heisey. Three other Nats starters went yard as well, in a lineup that might be close to a preview of what Dusty Baker has planned for Opening Day.

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Stephen Strasburg got the start for the boys in green, coming off his last appearance in which he pitched three innings, allowing one run on three hits, two walks, and a strikeout against the Mets. The 27-year old got off to a hot start in the first inning Thursday afternoon, striking out the first two Atlanta hitters he saw without throwing a ball outside the strike zone. Freddie Freeman, who is known for hitting Washington pitching well, stepped into the box and crushed a 3-2 pitch into the left-center seat.

The Nats would strike right back in the bottom half of the inning, with Ryan Zimmerman hitting his first home run of the spring on a two-run shot that brought in Bryce Harper to make it 2-1 Washington early.

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Strasburg made quick work of the Braves’ lineup in the second around a leadoff double by Tyler Flowers, retiring the last two hitters in two pitches. He would run into some trouble in the third however, allowing Adonis Garcia to drive in Blake Lalli on a sacrifice fly, tying the game at two runs apiece.

Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz retired the Nats in order in the second inning to end his day. His final line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 1 SO. Aaron Blair replaced Foltynewicz for the bottom of the third, and threw a 1-2-3 inning in five pitches.

Washington would retake the lead the in the fourth on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Anthony Rendon that scored Harper. The reigning MVP finished the game without recording a plate appearance, but drew three walks and scored twice.

Strasburg ended his day after the fourth inning, finishing with two runs on five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts.

The Braves would strike right back in the fifth, scoring two runs off Freddie Freeman’s second homer of the day. The ball actually landed on Ben Revere’s glove in center field, but the former Blue Jay popped the ball over the wall before it touched the ground. Their offensive onslaught would not stop there, as Atlanta would pick up two more in the sixth. Top prospect Dansby Swanson scored on an RBI-single by Emilio Bonifacio to make it 5-3, and a single by Ozhaino Albies drove in Bonifacio two batters later to push their lead to 6-3.

The Nationals would respond in the bottom frame with a few long balls of their own, as Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each hit their first home runs of the spring. Both starters hit solo shots off Braves’ reliever Carlos Torres, narrowing the deficit to 6-5.

Atlanta would score yet again in the seventh, with Swanson driving in Mallex Smith on a two out single. Their pitching staff retired six out of the seven batters they faced in the seventh and eighth innings, as Arodys Vizcaino and Ryan Weber combined to post two scoreless innings of work.

After Sean Burnett, who has allowed only one hit in five innings pitched this spring, and Jonathan Papelbon each faced the minimum three hitters in quick scoreless innings, Weber would get into trouble quickly. Matt den Dekker singled with one out, then stole second during the next at-bat. Jason Martinson walked to put two runners on base, and Chris Heisey ended the game with a three-run walk-off homer.

Next Up: The Nationals host the New York Mets Friday evening with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM ET. Nats’ top prospect Lucas Giolito is expected to get the start against Mets’ hurler Bartolo Colon.