WASHINGTON, D.C.: Down to their last out, and last strike, the Washington Nationals got a two-out double from Juan Soto and a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman as they rallied for an 8-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!!
Strasburg vs the Phillies: With the DL stints and injuries he’s dealt with this season, Stephen Strasburg had only made one start since June 8th before tonight, and he had yet to face the Phillies in 2018.
He got a shot at the Nationals’ NL East rivals when he returned from his second trip to the Disabled List this season to take on Philadelphia in the second game of three in D.C.
Strasburg caught the first two batters he faced looking with curves for back-to-back Ks, but gave up back-to-back doubles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Bour in the next two at bats as the Phillies jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
He got to 3-2 with Maikel Franco, but left a curve up inside that got crushed, with Franco connecting for his 21st home run of 2018, a two-run shot that made it a 3-0 game.
It was 3-1 in the third when Justin Bour hit a two-out, 2-0 fastball to center for a solo shot off Strasburg. Bour’s second hit of the night and 20th home run of 2018 made it 4-1 after three on the mound in D.C. for Strasburg.
The Nationals rallied to tie it with a three-run third, but a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth came around to score one out later on the second of two singles Strasburg allowed but a noticeable drop in velocity — down to 91-92 from 94-95 on the radar gun — was more of a concern than the hits he allowed
Clearly the Nationals notice the velo drop too, because they started warming pitchers up in the fourth and Strasburg didn’t return to the mound in the fifth...
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 84 P, 51 S.
Eflin vs the Nationals: Phillies’ righty Zach Eflin held the Nationals to two runs on six hits in five innings when he faced them in the nation’s capital back on June 22nd, earning the win in what ended up a 12-2 game.
On the season, the 24-year-old, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deal which sent Jimmy Rollins to LA in 2014, was (9-4) in 17 starts heading into tonight’s game, with a 3.70 ERA and a .239/.283/.416 line against in 97 1⁄3 IP.
Eflin took the mound with a 3-0 lead, courtesy of an RBI double by Justin Bour and a two-run home run by Maikel Franco, but gave up a run in the bottom of the first when Bryce Harper dropped a shift-beating bunt down in his two-out at bat, then scored on an RBI double to center by Anthony Rendon, whose 31st two-base hit of 2018 made it a 3-1 game.
Harper was 2 for 2 after he doubled to right field on a 3-2 slider from Eflin in the bottom of the third, bringing Trea Turner around from first to make it a two-run game, and he scored from third one out later on an RBI single to right by Juan Soto, 4-3.
Juan Soto singles to RF and this is a 1-run game! pic.twitter.com/VKt7fMAcOa— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 23, 2018
Soto scored on the third straight two-out single with Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters connecting for back-to-back hits after the 19-year-old drove Harper in, 4-4.
Turner and Harper hit back-to-back, one-out singles in the home-half of the fourth, and an error on a throw to second when Harper stole the bag allowed both runners to advance, with Turner scoring, 5-5, while Harper took third.
A walk to Anthony Rendon (who walked more than he K’d in college and in 2017) ended Eflin’s night...
Zach Eflin’s Line: 3.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 80 P, 51 S, 5/1 GO/FO.
Harper, Harper, Harper: Bryce Harper bunted against the shift the first time up, foiling the Phillies attempts to play the percentages, and scored on an RBI double by Anthony Rendon.
Harper was 2 for 2 on the night (and up over a .250 AVG for the first time since May 5th) after he doubled to drive in a run in the third, lining a 3-2 slider from Zach Eflin to right.
Coming into tonight’s matchup with the Nationals’ divisional rivals, Harper was 37 for 105 (.352 AVG) with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 26 RBIs, 13 walks, and 21 runs scored in 29 games in the so-called second-half.
That stretch took the 25-year-old soon-to-be-free agent from a .214/.365/.468 line on July 14th to .248/.381/.512 before the second of three with the Phillies in D.C.
A hard-hit liner to right in the fourth (3 for 3) sent Trea Turner around to third, (and pushed Harper up to a .253 AVG), and he stole second, and took third on an errant throw as Turner scored to tie it up at 5-5.
BULLPEN ACTION: Hector Neris took over for the Phillies with runners on the corners and one out in the Nationals’ fourth and stranded both of the runners he inherited.
Wander Suero replaced Stephen Strasburg in the fifth and retired the side in order in a 10-pitch frame.
Neris needed 13 pitches total in a 1-2-3 fifth, and the Phillies retook the lead in the top of the sixth, with Nick Williams lining a one-out single to right off Suero before scoring on a pinch hit, two-out, RBI double to right by Carlos Santana, 6-5.
Tommy Hunter gave up a one-out single by Trea Turner in the Nationals’ sixth, and threw away a pick attempt, but stranded him at second in a scoreless frame.
Justin Miller left a 2-2 slider up for Cesar Hernandez, who hit it into the second deck in right field to make it 7-5 Phillies in the seventh.
Hunter kept it 7-5 with a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning.
Greg Holland retired the Phillies in order in the top of the eighth and Wilmer Difo tripled to right to start the bottom of the inning off Pat Neshek. Andrew Stevenson stepped in next and hit a sac fly to center to make it a one-run game, 7-6 Phillies.
Jimmy Cordero got the top of the ninth for the Nats, and walked Rhys Hoskins to load the bases with one out (after an error, single, and force at second put runners on the corners).
Cordero popped up Asdrubal Cabrera for out No. 2, and Matt Grace came on to face Justin Bour and struck him out to keep it a one-run game.
Seranthony Dominguez got the ninth for the Phillies, and gave up a two-out double to right by Juan Soto, and a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman!!!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!!
Final Score: 8-7 Nationals
Nationals now 64-63