BALTIMORE, MD: Bryce Harper homered for the 17th time this season, Mark Reynolds hit his sixth home run in 12 games with Washington, Juan Soto connected for three hits, stole third for his first major league steal, and started a 7-6-2 putout in the fifth inning that kept the visitors up, 3-2, and Jeremy Hellickson and the Nationals’ bullpen kept the Baltimore Orioles in check as the Nationals made it five-straight on the current road trip and nine straight on the road overall.
Hellboy vs the O’s: Though he’s still on a relatively short leash, after a late start to the season, and with his third-time-through-the-order numbers a consideration, Jeremy Hellickson has continued to make solid starts as the fifth arm in the Nationals’ rotation.
The veteran right-hander tried to continue his impressive month of May in tonight’s matchup with the Baltimore Orioles.
Over 22 2⁄3 innings in four starts this month before tonight, the 31-year-old righty gave up just 12 hits, two walks, and two earned runs (for a 0.79 ERA), holding opposing hitters to a combined .169/.190/.260 line.
Not bad for a starter who took a minor league deal from Washington when no one else came calling this winter.
In his previous start before tonight, however, a blister ended his outing after 5 1⁄3 IP against the San Diego Padres, in which he gave up a run on five hits.
“He had the same thing the last outing too,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up a 2-1 win in the nation’s capital.
Going into tonight’s start in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Martinez said Hellickson’s finger was good to go. He took the mound with a 1-0 lead, but gave up a game-tying homer by Manny Machado, who crushed a 2-1 curve, sending a no-doubter out to left for his 16th of 2018, 1-1 after one.
That was all Hellickson gave up through four, as he worked around three other hits, but a hit-by-pitch and single with one down in the O’s fifth got the bullpen moving.
Adam Jones drove in a run with a line drive to left-center field, but a 7-6-2 relay got the trail runner at the plate for the final out of a 19-pitch inning that left the Nationals’ starter at 81 total on the night.
Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 81 P, 48 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
Bundy vs the Nationals: After giving up a combined 23 hits and 22 runs (19 earned) in just nine innings on the mound over a three-start stretch which included an outing in which he surrendered five hits, four of them home runs, and seven runs without recording an out, O’s right-hander Dylan Bundy settled down in his last three turns in the rotation before tonight’s start against the Nationals, with a 2.86 ERA, seven walks, and 29 Ks in 22 IP over that stretch which saw him hold opposing hitters to a combined .122/.207/.338 line.
Three pitches in tonight, Bundy was down a run after Bryce Harper flat crushed a first-pitch fastball and hit a one-out solo shot to right field, well over the 373 ft sign affixed to the wall for No. 17 of 2018 and a 1-0 lead.
National League home run leader Bryce Harper extended his National League home run lead. pic.twitter.com/lyjKYK9Q5N— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 29, 2018
Back-to-back singles by Mark Reynolds and Juan Soto started the second, but Michael A. Taylor sent a grounder to short to start a 6-4-3 DP. Reynolds advanced to third on the DP, however, and scored on a two-out single to right by Wilmer Difo, 2-1 Nationals after two.
An 0-1 fastball inside to Mark Reynolds in the fourth went out to left on a line as well as the Nationals’ veteran corner infielder connected for his sixth home run in 12 games, 3-1.
This is Mark Reynolds' 12th game as a Nat.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 30, 2018
This is Mark Reynolds' 6th HR as a Nat. pic.twitter.com/CdO5vRBe3P
Dylan Bundy’s Line: 6.0 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 94 P, 68 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
Harper, Harper, Harper: In spite of his average, and an increase in Ks after his walk-filled first month-plus, Bryce Harper has been hitting for power this season, and he connected with a first-pitch fastball from Dylan Bundy with one down in the first tonight, sending an absolute bomb of a home run out to right field in OPACY to put the Nationals up, 1-0, and add to his NL-leading home run total with his 17th of 2018, one shy of Mike Trout’s major-league leading 18 homers. Manny Machado, who along with Harper is going to be part of next winter’s bumper crop of free agents, tied it up with one swing in the Orioles’ first.
Soto - A Baseball Story: In addition to hitting in all three of his at bats against Orioles’ righty Dylan Bundy tonight, Juan Soto stole his first base in the majors, and started a 7-6-2 putout.
What can’t he do? He also got walked intentionally for the first time in his career in the top of the eighth, with one out and Matt Adams on first after a leadoff single.
BULLPEN ACTION: Justin Miller took over on the mound for the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth inning, working around a single in a scoreless 19-pitch inning in which all three outs came via Ks.
Sammy Solis needed 16 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.
O’s righty Mychal Givens, (who took over for Tanner Scott after Scott tossed a scoreless top of the seventh), gave up a leadoff double to center by Matt Adams, then walked Juan Soto (3 for 3), intentionally, and Wilmer Difo unintentionally, loading the bases in front of Michael A. Taylor, who popped out to short left, and Pedro Severino, who sent an inning-ender out to second base. Still 3-2 Nationals, but they were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Brandon Kintzler gave up a one-out single by Adam Jones in the O’s eighth, but stranded the only runner to reach base in a 19-pitch inning.
Sean Doolittle got the ninth and put two runners on with a one-out hit-by-pitch and single, before he got the final two outs to earn his 12th save of 2018.
Final Score: 3-2 Nationals
Nationals now 31-22