- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2015

By the eighth inning, Friday night’s game between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves had devolved into a home-run-hitting contest. Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa hit two apiece, and Jayson Werth recorded his first home run of the season as Washington downed Atlanta, 9-2.

THE RUNDOWN: The Nationals fell behind from the get-go after Gio Gonzalez grazed Andrelton Simmons’ back foot with a pitch, Freddie Freeman doubled and Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly. The deficit doubled in the third inning, when Freeman doubled again to drive in Simmons. But from there, this game was about Nationals home runs and little else. Jayson Werth hit the first, crushing a solo home run in the fourth inning. Harper followed in the sixth. Then Espinosa in the seventh. Then both Harper and Espinosa in the eighth. Both of Espinosa’s homer came from the left side of the plate, the side he abandoned in spring training and dusted off when the season began. It was the third multi-homer performance of his career.

THE HIGHLIGHT: Though Harper’s homers were impressive, I’ll give this one to Werth. The left fielder had been struggling since his return from offseason shoulder surgery. He was given back-to-back days off earlier this week and entered Friday’s series-opener with a paltry .176 batting average. In his second at-bat, however, Werth clobbered a no-doubter to left field. The ball landed halfway up the section of blue seats, an estimated 430 feet away. It was his first home run of the season, and the Nationals hope it will help get him back on track.

STAR OF THE GAME: Yup. You guessed it. After hitting three home runs Wednesday in what might have been the best offensive game of his major-league career, Harper hit two more Friday. The first barely cleared the fence in left-center field. The second had no trouble clearing the fence in right, falling just short of the upper deck. Harper has now hit five home runs in his past eight at-bats, with 10 RBI to boot. Not bad

THE TAKEAWAY: Despite all of the power in their lineup, the Nationals recorded a mere 21 home runs in their first 28 games. Then Harper hit three Wednesday afternoon, and Washington combined for five more Friday. While manager Matt Williams would also like to see his team sustain innings and string hits together, the home runs certainly make things a lot easier.


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