PHILADELPHIA - Earlier this afternoon, noting how five of his team’s six home runs to start this season have come with nobody on base, Dusty Baker joked that “homers are fine, but multi-run homers are better.”
Members of the Nationals lineup must’ve been eavesdropping, because they’re putting that practice to work in today’s game against the Phillies.
Harper hit his blast in the top of the first, sending a 3-2 slider from Phillies starter Vince Velasquez deep to right for his second homer of the young season. Murphy followed two innings later with his own two-run homer to right-center, off a 2-2 pitch from Velasquez.
Both homers came with Adam Eaton on base, Eaton having drawn a walk earlier in the inning. The new center fielder has now drawn five walks in 15 plate appearances this season, providing Harper and Murphy more than their share of opportunities to bat with traffic on the bases.
Meanwhile, Scherzer looks very much like the guy who won last year’s Cy Young Award, not the guy whose spring training was delayed by a finger injury.
The Nationals ace has retired all nine Phillies batters faced so far, needing only 38 pitches to do it. He has struck out three, reached 95 mph with his fastball and hasn’t come close to breaking a sweat on a 48-degree afternoon in Philadelphia.
Update: Jayson Werth has joined the party. And in doing so, has sent a good number of Phillies fans home early. Werth blasted a three-run homer - into the 20-mph wind - to extend the Nationals’ lead to 7-0 in the fifth. That’s the third homer of the day, all three coming with men on base. Baker must be giddy down in the dugout.
Scherzer is no longer perfect, having allowed a pair of hits in the bottom of the fourth. But that’s all the Phillies have so far against the ace, who is through five scoreless innings on 68 pitches.
Update II: Scherzer’s day is done, but this game isn’t over just yet. He departed having allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings, finishing with 98 pitches. Sammy Solis replaced him and quickly gave up a double and a homer to Aaron Altherr. And so the Nats’ once-lopsided seven-run lead is now down to 7-4 heading to the eighth, and a save situation is looming.
Update III: It was way more tense than Baker would have liked, but the Nats escaped with a 7-6 victory. The Phillies brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth, but Koda Glover got out of the mess. Blake Treinen, pitching for the third straight day, gave up a two-run homer to Freddy Galvis in the ninth but still finished it off for his third save in four tries, helping the Nationals improve to 3-1 on the young season.