- - Friday, May 4, 2018

Dave Martinez won’t win a Nobel Peace Prize and he’s a long shot for elected political office.

But the leader of a major D.C. organization – baseball’s Washington Nationals – may have saved his team’s season with a bold offensive move earlier this week.

The Nationals rookie skipper decided to have star slugger Bryce Harper bat in the leadoff spot after hitting third most of the season. The main reason was that Harper was not getting many good pitches to hit as opposing hurlers were content to let him walk.



The Las Vegas native, who will be a free agent after this season, continued to make his new manager look brilliant Friday as he hit home runs in his first two trips to the plate against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park.

Harper began the game with a solo shot in the first off Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta, the former Washington minor league pitcher.

The Washington right fielder then hit a two-run shot to straightaway center in the second off Pivetta. Two batters later Matt Adams hit a two-run homer off Philadelphia reliever Drew Hutchison to give the Nationals a 7-0 lead.

The game was delayed by rain in the bottom of the fourth but once play resumes and the game becomes official the homers by Harper and Adams will count. That will give Harper four homers in four games as the leadoff hitter and a league-high 12 this season with the chance to add on later in the game.

He also hit a long flyout to center in his third at-bat Friday. Adams, hitting third in the order, also has four homers in the last four games since the lineup change by Martinez.

Harper hit a career-high three homers against Miami on May 6, 2015.

Friday’s game was stopped 8:27 p.m. and began again at 9:06.

The Nationals entered the game with five wins in a row and an overall record of 16-16. Washington lost 16 of 24 games after starting the year 4-0.

Washington is starting to hit as a team even without everyday players Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon, all of who are on the disabled list. Third baseman Rendon made his second minor league rehab appearance Friday with Single-A Potomac of the Carolina League. He could join the Nationals for the Saturday game with the Phillies.

Where will he hit in the lineup?

“He’s going to be somewhere probably up at the top,” Martinez said. “We haven’t really decided yet. … The best thing about it is that I get to write his name back in the lineup.”

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