For a few minutes on Tuesday night, the collapse of the Washington Nationals looked imminent.
Bryce Harper, wearing Phillies pinstripes, had just launched a three-run homer to left field, followed by a Jean Segura triple to put Philadelphia up by a score of 6-1.
With the team’s lackluster offense and self-destructive bullpen, another night’s worth of depressing storylines began piling up.
And then the Nationals did something they had yet to do this season: they began a comeback as the bullpen prevented the opposition from expanding their lead.
It started in the top of the sixth innocently enough, with an Anthony Rendon double that scored Victor Robles.
In the top of the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman beat out a ground ball that snuck past first baseman Rhys Hoskins before Yan Gomes came to the plate, crushing a low 89-mph off-speed pitch into left-center field to bring the score to 6-4.
April 8: Kurt Suzuki 2-run HR— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 10, 2019
April 9: Yan Gomes 2-run HR pic.twitter.com/Z3XaMmp2fY
Later in the inning, Howie Kendrick came up as a pinch hitter, slamming a 420-foot homer also to left-center, putting the Nats within one run.
One run away in the top of the eighth, the Nats put runners on first and second before the Phillies’ Hector Neris got out of the inning, prompting an emotional response on the mound.
Entering the top of the ninth, the Nats looked like they would come up just a hit short yet again, down to their final strike. Then, Victor Robles happened:
The Nats, of course, weren’t out of it just yet...
In the bottom of the ninth, with Andrew McCutchen standing on first after singling off Kyle Barraclough, Davey Martinez went to the bullpen for Sean Doolittle, who promptly struck out Bryce Harper:
As the game entered the top of the tenth, the Nats promptly put two runners on base for Juan Soto, who demolished a slider inside for a three-run shot that put the Nats on top, 9-6.
After Victor Robles drove in yet another run, Doolittle came in to lock down the game in the 10th (though not before he got a so-called “plate appearance”).
The mood, as one would expect, was jubilant in the Nats’ clubhouse, where music blasted and a huge cheer erupted as the team broke out the cabbage (yes, the cabbage from Spring Training).
This was another cabbage situation, apparently. The Nationals had a cabbage race in the spring as a fun thing. Tonight, there is cabbage all over the clubhouse floor being progressively swept up.— Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) April 10, 2019
Obviously, this win doesn’t spell the start of a dominant run for the Nats: they’ll have to play the Phillies again on Wednesday, sending a taxed bullpen out for another day and Jeremy Hellickson, who Bryce Harper rocked in Washington. Then again, it’s certainly a better look than a 6-1 loss.