Washington Nationals: Michael Taylor Makes Early Impression With Walk-Off

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 4-3 Tuesday afternoon in the opener of the two teams’ shared Spring Training complex, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Michael Taylor capped off the win with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.

Spring Training wins don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but the Washington Nationals mobbed Michael Taylor at the plate anyway after he smacked a two-out, walk-off home run off Astros left-hander Ashur Tolliver in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Nats their second victory of the Grapefruit League season.

Washington played its first game in its brand-new stadium, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, beating its co-owners in the Astros 4-3. Taylor, who is 2-for-6 so far this spring with the home run, a stolen base and pair of runs scored, made an early impression on his coaches with the walk-off bomb. The 25-year-old (who turns 26 in March) is competing for a spot on the Nats’ bench with fellow outfielder Brian Goodwin.

While Goodwin certainly has a case to make the team, Taylor holds the edge — at least for now. Taylor has more experience at the major league level and, as evidenced by the fact that he made the postseason roster over Ben Revere last fall, he’s earned manager Dusty Baker’s favor.

Other observations from the Nats’ win over Houston:

-Here’s something that Nats have been waiting to hear for months. Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the first inning to give Washington an early 1-0 lead. The lefty duo has combined for 665 total MVP votes over the last two seasons and both figure to play an integral role in the team’s run production this season.

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-Forgotten man Derek Norris blasted his first home run of the spring Tuesday. He’s 3-for-6 so far this preseason and hasn’t appeared to let his demotion get to his head. With the abundance of catchers that this team suddenly has, both the Nats and Norris will take any good cuts they can get unless other clubs come calling.

Jeremy Guthrie threw two scoreless innings in his second appearance of the year despite facing several of the Astros’ top sluggers. Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran all had their chance against the Nats’ right-hander, but none were able to reach base. Guthrie has been a starter for his entire career, but with the Nats’ rotation essentially set in stone barring an injury, he stuck competing for a long relief role in the bullpen.

Next: Nats Grab Reliever Joe Blanton

Today, the Nats hit the road for Lakeland, Florida to take on the Tigers. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.