Washington Nationals' outfielder Michael Taylor battled veteran Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander Jerome Williams for eight pitches, working the count full before he hit his first home run of 2015 to deep left field to lead off an April 10th game in Citizens Bank Park.
Six days later, in the nation's capital, Taylor got ahead 2-0 on Philies' lefty Cole Hamels and hit a solo shot to left-center to put the Nationals up 3-2 in what ended up a 5-2 win over the Nats' NL East rivals.
"He got ahead in the count," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after Taylor's second home run of the season, "and got a pitch that probably wasn't a strike, up, center of the plate, but if he can get ahead in the count and stay off bad pitches, then he has opportunity for success."
Taylor didn't start the game in which he hit his third homer, but he took over in the outfield on May 13th in Arizona, when Bryce Harper was ejected by home plate umpire Rob Drake after a dispute over a check swing strike three in the bottom of the seventh.
With the Nationals trailing 6-5 after eight innings, Taylor stepped in for the first time that day with the bases loaded and hit a 1-0 fastball from Diamondbacks' right-hander Addison Russell for a grand slam to center field in Chase Field that put the Nationals ahead 9-5.
"Good swing," Williams said.
"He got a good pitch, fastball down in the strike zone and did what he had to with it. Hit it to the middle of the diamond, it was good."
Twenty-nine at bats later, Taylor connected for home run no.4 of 2015 on May 30th in Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, taking an 0-1 fastball from Reds' right-hander Raisel Igesias out to left to put the Nationals up 5-2 in a game they eventually lost, 8-5.
Twenty-five at bats passed between that blast and Taylor's fifth home run of the season yesterday in the second game of two with the Yankees in New York.
Taylor came on as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh, with the Nats behind 4-2, and homered in the top of the eighth, hitting a two-run blast to the right field corner on a 1-2 fastball up high outside from Yankees' left-hander Jacob Lindgren for a home run that tied it up at 4-4 before the Nationals won it in extras.
"He doesn't come off the fastball," Williams said. "He can get himself in a good hitter's count and he's got power to all fields, showed it today. Got two strikes and got a ball out, over to hit. We substituted him in because we were ahead in the game at that point and we need our best defense in there, turned out he got the swing to get us back in it."
Through 44 games and 139 plate appearances, Taylor has a .227/.281/.398 line with the five homers, five doubles and five stolen bases.
He also has 50 Ks (36.0% K%) in those 139 PAs, which has been a problem for Taylor throughout his professional career, but the 24-year-old outfielder has shown off the power and an ability to come up with a big hit early in his second major league season.
As the Nationals noted, all five of Taylor's home runs have either tied a game or put the Nats ahead:
Taylor might just be "clutch"... you know, if clutch existed.
• We talked about Taylor's blast, the Nationals' win, Gio Gonzalez's outing and more on yesterday's edition of Nats Nightly:
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