Bryce Harper has a new look today, having rid himself of the full beard that he’s been sporting for much of the season.
All that’s left in the facial hair department is a mustache, and it apparently has brought some luck.
Harper smoked a one-out solo homer to dead center in the third inning, his 17th longball of the season, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead over Julio Teheran and the Braves.
After Teheran struck Harper out in the first, the Braves righty left a 91 mph two-seam fastball over the heart of the plate leading off the second battle between the two talented youngsters.
Harper dropped his barrel to the ball and drilled it to center, where it went bouncing off the green batter’s eye. Harper has now re-taken the team lead in homers, jumping out over Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond, who both have 16.
Gio Gonzalez has worked four scoreless innings so far, allowing just two hits and striking out three.
The curveball has been incredibly sharp from Gonzalez tonight, getting Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons swinging and B.J. Upton looking.
Gonzalez had his worst start as a National his last time out, allowing 10 runs on 11 hits over just 3 1/3 innings in a loss to Detroit. This time around, he’s gotten right back into the zone he was in for the last three months, and the Nats have given him a slim lead through four.
Update: When you’re going well, as the Braves are (as evidenced by their 11-game win streak), everything seems to go your way. When you’re not going well, as the Nats are (as evidenced by, well, their 54-58 record), you don’t seem to get any breaks when you need ‘em.
The Braves got two breaks in the top of the fifth, allowing them to take a 2-1 lead.
With one out, B.J. Upton singled and then tried to swipe second after Gonzalez had picked over to first base three times to try and keep him close. Wilson Ramos’ throw down to second was a decent one, and it was a bang-bang play, but Upton was called safe.
Two batters later, Evan Gattis, who is only in the game because Jason Heyward was taken out because of a strained muscle in his neck, ripped a two-run, two-out single to right, giving the Braves the lead.