Washington Nationals: When Nats Home Runs Created Fireworks

The Washington Nationals hit back-to-back home runs on Saturday.  Do you remember when the Nats did that in 2012 and it nearly led to a fight?

Washington Nationals fans witnessed an uncommon occurrence on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park when Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick hit home runs on back to back pitches to turn a 2-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Pirates into an eighth-inning 3-2 lead.

As rare as the event was, there was a night in Nats history where the feat was accomplished not once but twice in the same contest.

Entering a four-game series in September 2012 against the Chicago Cubs, the surprising Nationals were 81-52 and had a comfortable 6.5 game lead in the National League East.  The team was coming off a  3-1 series win over the St. Louis Cardinals in which Washington outscored the visitors 31-14, and the eventual 101 loss Cubs team seemed to be no match for the up and coming Nats.

What played out over the next four days proved that point.

On a warm Labor Day afternoon, Washington started the series off with a sharp 2-1 victory that featured a solo home run by Adam LaRoche that gave the Nats a 1-0 lead in the second inning.  In game two of the series, LaRoche hit two of Washington’s six home runs as the Nats won in a rout by an 11-5 score.

Game three of the set featured more fireworks by the home team.  With the Nats ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning,  leadoff man Roger Bernadina worked a 3-2 count off of Cubs’ starter Chris Volstad and then drilled a long home run (his fourth of the year) to centerfield to give Washington a 2-0 lead.  Nats’ fans had barely settled into their seats when rookie Bryce Harper crushed Volstad’s next pitch to left-center for Harper’s 16th round-tripper of the year to put Washington up 3-0.

By the bottom of the seventh inning, the Nats were up 6-0 with Ian Desmond coming to the plate to face Cubs’ righty, Blake Parker.   Parker fell behind the Nats’ shortstop by a 3-1 count, and Desmond made him pay by homering to deep centerfield to expand Washington’s lead to 7-0.

On Parker’s next pitch, Desmond’s double-play partner Danny Espinosa also homered to center to put the Nats up 8-0 and give Washington its second back to back pitch home run event of the game.  The Nats would end up winning by a 9-2 score, with Washington hitting six home runs.

The final game of the series saw the Nats hit a pair of home runs and win by a 9-2 score.  The last contest featured two bench-clearing incidents borne out of the Cubs’ apparent frustration with the young Nationals team’s aggressive play.

After the game, Nats’ manager Davey Johnson was unapologetic about his team’s play as reported by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  “Here we are in the fifth inning, we’re in a pennant race, we’re going to swing 3-0, we’re going to do everything,” Johnson said.

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“We ain’t stopping trying to score runs. Certainly, a five-run lead at that time is nothing. I think it was the bench coach’s frustration in us handing it to them for a couple of days. If they want to quit competing and forfeit, then fine. But we’re going to keep competing,” he said.

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