On the day that Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (accidentally) announced his engagement to his long-time girlfriend Kayla Varner, his teammates took the mound to take on the Texas Rangers for the first of a three-game series in DC. The offense showed what they’re capable of with a 9-2 victory to support a strong start by Nats ace Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg’s first inning was a dominant 1-2-3 affair on just 10 pitches with two strikeouts. He encountered some self-inflicted adversity in the second, though.
After giving up a leadoff double to Adrian Beltre, he struck out the next two batters before bobbling a ground ball, which allowed Leonys Martin to reach on an error. Strasburg then gave up back-to-back singles worth an RBI each, and the Nats were in a 2-0 hole.
Strasburg made it through the third and fourth innings unscathed before the offense decided to pick him up. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back singles before Ian Desmond launched his 10th home run of the season into the center field seats to put the Nats ahead 3-2.
The Nats offense then decided they really wanted to give their ace some run support. In the fifth, Denard Span ran a one-man show. He singled to lead off the inning, and then on a hit-and-run, Anthony Rendon grounded one to third base. On the throw to first, Span went toward third, prompting a throw from first baseman Mitch Moreland. The throw got passed third baseman Adrian Beltre, and Span scored on the error. It was quite a sequence, which you can watch here.
The sixth inning saw a walk by Wilson Ramos and single by Nate McLouth before Tyler Moore was brought in to pinch hit for Strasburg, and he drove one into the left field corner, scoring both runners and giving the Nats the 6-2 lead.
Then, Rendon and Werth singled to lead off the inning and were driven in by a Ramos single that got under right fielder Alex Rios’ glove and rolled all the way to the wall. Ramos ended up on third on the two-base error with the team up 8-2. The Nats added another one in the eighth after back-to-back-to-back singles by Span, Rendon, and Werth, making it 9-2.
Everyone except for Danny Espinosa got in on the action tonight for the home team, as the Nats won just their second out of their last eight games.
Weird baseball: Ramos’ walk in the sixth inning was a five-ball walk. I have no idea what the home plate umpire was thinking, but he announced a 3-2 count, called a ball (the fourth of the at bat), and then Ramos came back into the batter’s box and took the fifth ball of the at bat before walking.