- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2017

There were two outs in the bottom of the third inning Friday night and Philadelphia Phillies starter Jake Thompson had a choice. Pitch to left-handed hitting, at the time, Matt Wieters or pitch around him to bring right-handed Michael A. Taylor to the plate. He walked Wieters on four pitches to load the bases.

Taylor hit a line drive to center field where 5-foot-11 Odubel Herrera stood. Herrera’s initial read of the ball showed he wasn’t sure where it was going. It was also clear he underestimated the velocity it was approaching with. Herrera took a few steps to his right and a couple in, then jumped. The ball flew over his glove and rolled to the center field fence.

“I could see Herrera break in, then I could tell he was in trouble,” Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who was in the hole, said. “You could just see he wasn’t moving anymore and he was getting ready to jump.”

“I didn’t read the line drive well,” Herrera said through an interpreter. “I thought it was going to sink and it didn’t. It picked up.”

By then, Taylor knew what was afoot. He zoomed around first and headed toward second as Ryan Zimmerman scored from third, Daniel Murphy scored from second and Wieters began the catcher’s grind from first base all the way to home. Once asked if he was faster than Trea Turner, Taylor said he was not if the race was 90 feet. Though, he liked his chances in a longer one.

“Soon as it went over his head, I was thinking four right there,” Taylor said.

Nationals third base coach Bob Henley is aggressive. Taylor visually picked him up between second and third with a lift of his head. Henley stood calmly rotating his right arm. At the plate, Murphy was waving with the gusto of someone who had spotted a plane after being marooned for years. Herrera used a sidearm throw to hit the cutoff man. The throw to the plate was slightly up the third base line and, if it was caught, may have tagged out history. Instead, Taylor slid by. He missed the plate before discovering the ball had rolled away. He reached back, horizontal in a plank position, and tapped it. Murphy was on the ground behind him pointing at the target.

The inside-the-park grand slam provided historical twists.

The other inside-the-park grand slam by a member of the Montreal Expos or Washington Nationals came from Bombo Rivera on June 26, 1976. Rivera hit two home runs in his two seasons as a member of the Expos. One was his inside-the-park grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Among the players driven in was current Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. He scored from second base long before watching Taylor sprint around Nationals Park on Friday night.

“Bombo could hit,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

The last time an inside-the-park grand slam was hit in the major leagues was Sept. 25, 2015. Philadelphia’s Arron Altherr hit it off the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann. In center field that day was Taylor, who misplayed a fly ball that rolled to the wall.

“Feels better to be on this side of it,” Taylor said.

After dusting himself off, Taylor obliged when asked for a curtain call. The hit turned into his career-high 15th home run, embarrassed Herrera, gave Scherzer a lead, helped a Nationals‘ 11-10 win, and allowed many to discover that Bombo Rivera existed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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