After taking the first two games of the three-game Interleague set with the Minnesota Twins in the nation's capital, the Washington Nationals sent Stephen Strasburg to the mound in this afternoon's series finale looking for a sweep of the three-game set. They got it with a walk-off winner by Chris Heisey in the 16th.
Here's how it happened:
Coming off an impressive outing which saw him toss eight scoreless against the Marlins in Miami, Strasburg returned to the nation's capital (3-0) on the year, with a 1.25 ERA, a 2.10 FIP, seven walks (2.91 BB/9), 21 Ks (8.72 K/9) and a .181/.256/.197 line against through 21 ⅔ innings pitched.
Strasburg retired the Twins in order in the top of the first, and by the time he took the mound in the second he had a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a leadoff home run by Matt den Dekker, who took a 3-1 fastball from right-hander Tyler Duffey to right for a solo blast in the Nationals' half of the first.
Twins' center fielder Byron Buxton lined a first-pitch fastball over his counterpart's head for a leadoff double, took third on a sac bunt by Duffey and scored on the second single of the game for second baseman Eduardo Nunez, who tied things up at 1-1 in the third with a grounder through the left side of the infield.
Tyler Duffey was knocked out of the game in the fifth, when Matt den Dekker hit a liner back to the mound and off of the right-hander's right shoulder.
It was still tied at 1-1 in the eighth when the Twins got a pinch hit single by Joe Mauer and a high-chopper by Eduardo Nunez to put two runners on with one out in front of Brian Dozier, who hit a 96 mph 3-2 fastball out to left for a three-run blast tat made it 4-1 Minnesota.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 114 P, 81 S, 4/5 GO/FO.
Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth singled and doubled, respectively, off Twins' righty Trevor May in the first two at bats of the Nats' eighth, and they both scored on a two-run double to left-center gap by Nationals' backstop Wilson Ramos, 4-3 Minnesota.
A wild pitch to pinch hitter Clint Robinson moved pinch runner Danny Espinosa from second to third, but Robinson K'd swinging for out No. 2 and Matt den Dekker lined out to right to end the threat and leave the Nats 1 for 13 with RISP.
Kevin Jepsen came on to close it out in the ninth. Bryce Harper came on in a pinch hit appearance, worked the count full taking a too-close-to-believe 2-2 fastball and then homering to center for a game-tying solo blast. Un-blanking-real. Tied 4-4 after nine.
Yusmeiro Petit did the yeoman's work with four scoreless and hitless to get the game through fourteen innings and he came back out for the fifteenth.
Eduardo Nunez singled with two down and stole second base (on a play that was challenged and reversed). A two-out walk to Brian Dozier brought Miguel Sano up and he singled to left to bring in the go-ahead run, 5-4.
The Nationals somehow rallied to tie it, however.
With two down in the Nats' 15th, Danny Espinosa walked in front of Oliver Perez, who had to hit with no one left and he dropped a bunt in front of the plate only to have the Twins throw it away, allowing Espinosa, who'd stolen second, to score. 5-5.
It stayed that way until Chris Heisey hit a walk-off winner in the 16th! Ballgame!
Nationals now 14-4
• NATS NOTES:
- Minnesota recalled Tyler Duffey from Triple-A to start in place of Ervin Santana, who's suffering from a sore lower back.
- In three starts for Triple-A Rochester, Duffey didn't allow more than two runs per start.
- A win today would give the Nationals their third series sweep of the season.
- The Twins' losses in the first two games of their three-game set in D.C. left them 8-6 in the all-time series between Minnesota and Montreal/Washington.
- In the series finale this afternoon, the Twins were looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Nationals which dates back to June 9, 2013.
- Heading into the series finale this afternoon, Daniel Murphy had reached base in 14 of 16 games played early in his first season with the Nationals. Murphy started the day leading the majors in batting average (.411), and he'd reached base safely in 31 of 64 plate appearances thus far. He went 2 for 2 in his first two at bats, singling in both for his 10th multi-hit game in his first 17 games.
- Twins' first baseman Joe Mauer reached base safely in each of the Twins' 18 games before today's. Mauer got the day off this afternoon with Byung-ho Park starting at first in the series finale.
- Mauer did get a pinch hit appearance, however, and he singled, extending his on-base streak to 19-straight games.
- Dusty Baker Quote of the Series: Before the series opener with the Twins, Baker was asked about the untimely death of Prince, the Minnesota native and icon. #RestinPurple. Here's what Baker had to say:
"I never had a chance to meet him. I dug his music and you hate to see anybody great and that young and that influential on society pass away so early. I liked his music, big time, and I liked the whole scene, the Minnesota scene with Morris Day and Appollonia, and all of them from up there in Minnesota."
- Washington's starters, as a staff, started the series finale with the Twins with the lowest combined ERA in the majors at 2.18.
Nationals now 14-4