- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The New York Yankees made a rare visit to Washington this week for a brief two-game series against the Nationals, and the meeting between a perennial World Series champion and a new World Series hopeful lived up to the hype. It ended when Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run home run to right field in the 10th inning, giving the Nationals a walk-off 8-6 win over New York. 

With the victory, Washington improved to 23-17 on the season, moving into a tie with the New York Mets atop the National League East.

THE RUNDOWN:The Nationals got out to an early 2-0 lead, and Gio Gonzalez was on an early roll, retiring the Yankees lineup in order with nine consecutive groundouts. That changed in the fourth. Gonzalez walked leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury and struggled to locate his pitches for much of the following eight at-bats, giving up four hits and four runs in that span. New York tacked on two more runs in the fifth before Washington clawed its way back. Clint Robinson fueled the rally with a pinch-hit one-out double, and Denard Span, Ian Desmond and Yunel Escobar each followed with singles to pull the Nationals back to within 6-5. Wilson Ramos tied it in the following inning with a towering solo homer to left.

THE HIGHLIGHT: Facing Andrew Miller, one of the game’s most dominant left-handers, Zimmerman worked a 3-1 count and sent the next pitch he saw to right field. It was just the fourth hit allowed by Miller all season, and it resulted in the 10th walk-off hit of Zimmerman’s career, his first since July 2013. 

STAR OF THE GAME:Ramos entered Tuesday’s game in the midst of a 18-game hitting streak. He had driven in 19 runs. But his usual home run power, for one reason or another, had eluded him through the season’s first few months. That made it especially gratifying when, in the sixth inning, he crushed a pitch over the visiting bullpen in left field. It was just his second home run of the year, but it tied the game and pushed his league-best hitting streak to 19.

THE TAKEAWAY: Largely overshadowed by the outcome of the game was Harper’s performance, which in many ways was a perfect microcosm of his season to date. He hit a homer, his 15th, and drew a walk, his 37th. But he also grounded into a double play, slamming his helmet on the ground in frustration, and struck out twice. Together, the five at-bats painted a nuanced picture of the 22-year-old slugger: An incredibly talented all-around hitter who — wait for it — isn’t perfect. Hard to believe, I know, but it bears mentioning. As good as Harper has been, it’s not fair to expect him to hit 60 home runs and walk 140 times. Just enjoy this hot streak while it lasts.


SEE ALSO: For Nationals’ pitchers, mound position often a secret to their success


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