Nats/Harper Erupt Early to Rip Phillies

The Nationals erupted for seven early runs off ex-Nats minor league pitcher Nick Pivetta to extend their winning streak to six games with a 7-3 victory over the Phillies. Bryce Harper led the game off with a homerun and added a two run shot in the second inning to support the early onslaught.

Nick Pivetta was traded to the Phillies in the Jonathan Papelbon deal. Last year he found himself in the Phillies rotation but was not yet ready for the challenge, finishing the season with a 6.02 ERA in 26 starts. This year has been better with the Phillies starting out strong four games over .500 and Pivetta coming into the game with an ERA under 4. It would not be under 4 when the game ended.

Bryce Harper led the game off popping a 2-1 pitch to the opposite field to lead the game off with a homerun in the left field bleachers. Back to back walks to Trea Turner and Matt Adams set up a Ryan Zimmerman RBI single. A bloop single by Matt Wieters into left field scored the third run of the inning.

The second inning did not get much better for Pivetta. He walked Wilmer Difo to lead off the inning. Bryce Harper then unloaded on his first pitch and sent it deep into the centerfield berm for a two run homer, 473 feet from home plate, his longest homerun measured by statcast. A Trea Turner single ended the day for Pivetta. Drew Hutchinson came on to face Matt Adams and he deposited the first pitch over the right field bullpen and into the second deck to give the Nationals a 7-0 lead.

Gio did not seem too sharp for this game. His control was erratic, walking two hitters in the first inning. A Wilmer Difo error loaded the bases but Gio was able to get out of it by getting Maikel Franco to ground out to Difo.

The defense played exceptional behind Gonzalez. Trea Turner made back to back defensive gems. In the third he robbed Cesar Hernandez of a hit ranging up the middle to snag a grounder, spinning 360 degrees to make a one hop throw to Zimmerman at first. Rhys Hoskins followed with a slow chopper past Gonzalez to the third base side of the mound. Turner made a bare hand pick up to throw Hoskins out at first. In the fourth Maikel Franco hit one deep towards the left field bullpen. The less than agile Matt Adams plodded to the fence, reached high in the air and may have taken a two run homer away from Franco.

The rains came in the bottom of the fourth, delaying the game for 40 minutes. Gio came out for one more inning to salvage a win to his totals. He gave up a two out double to Cesar Hernandez but finished keeping the Phillies off the scoreboard in his five innings of work.

Trevor Gott tried to make the game interesting in the sixth. Matt Wieters seemed to notice an injury to Gott while he was pitching and motioned to the dugout. It appeared Gott turned his ankle landing on the wet mound. Gott gave up a cheap single to Aaron Altherr on a slow roller that hugged the third base line. There was nothing cheap about Carlos Santana mashing a ball into Bryce Harper territory into the centerfield berm. Maikel Franco followed with a high drive deep into the left field bleachers to make the score 7-3. Gott was replaced by Wander Suero and Nationals fans grew uneasy.

Suero pitched well retiring all five hitters he faced. His fastball sits at 90-91 but the Phillies were prevented from making consistent hard contact off him. Ryan Madson worked the eighth and Brandon Kintzler was called on for the ninth to secure the 7-3 victory.

The Nationals managed just two hits after the second inning.

Game Notes: It was Max Scherzer bobblehead night. Despite how well the Phillies are playing and with a bobblehead distribution there were only 35,000 in attendance. Phillie fans may wait for the Saturday and Sunday games to take the train to D.C….Jorge Alfaro had a rough night striking out three times. He swings and misses at some pretty bad pitches, which could explain why his average sits at .222…The two homeruns give Harper 12 for the year and four since moving to the leadoff spot. The 12 homeruns leads the National League. Pretty good for a leadoff hitter…Anthony Rendon will be available to play third base today, knocking either Wilmer Difo or Howie Kendrick out of the lineup…It was the shortest outing of Nick Pivatta’s career. In his last two starts he is 0-2 with a 15.00 ERA with six walks in six innings…A Odubel Herrera single in the 8th inning extended his on base streak to 33 games. It is the longest on base streak for the Phils since Darin Ruff had a 33 game on base streak in 2012/2013. Ruff is now playing in Korea.

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