Bryce Harper doesn’t even need to start games any more to have a major impact.
Neither does Chris Heisey.
Heisey’s walk-off homer, the first of his career, ended a 16-inning marathon as the Nationals came back twice to sweep the Twins with a 6-5 win.
Not in the starting lineup for the first time this season, Harper arrived in the bottom of the ninth to pinch-hit with his team down 4-3.
Facing the Twins closer Kevin Jepsen, Harper crushed a 3-2 fastball over the center field fence to tie the game at 4-4.
It was Harper’s ninth homer of the season. According to ESPN, Harper is the only player with a game-tying or go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later in each of the last five seasons.
The game went into extra innings, and kept going, until the 15th.
Miguel Sano rapped a run-scoring single to left in the 15th inning off Yusmeiro Petit to give the Twins a 5-4 lead in the 15th.
But again, the Nationals came back, this time Oliver Perez’s bunt in front of the plate was picked up and thrown away by Twins catcher John Ryan Murphy. Danny Espinosa scored from second to tie the game 5-5.
The Nationals were down 4-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth when they mounted a dramatic comeback.
May recovered to get three straight outs and preserve the lead. But then Harper tied the game in the ninth.
Stephen Strasburg had worked well into the eighth for the Nationals, allowing only an Eduardo Nunez RBI single in the third, but lost a battle with Brian Dozier. With two men on and one out, Dozier smacked a three-run homer over the left field fence that gave the Twins a 4-1 lead.
It turned out to be the only big mistake Strasburg would make.
Strasburg tallied 7 1/3 innings, scattering five hits and allowing four runs, but walking none and striking out 10. He threw 114 pitches, 81 for strikes.
Strasburg (3-0) recorded 10 strikeouts for the 23rd time in his career and second time this season. The Nationals pitchers tallied 40 strikeouts in the three games over the weekend against the Twins.
The Nationals offense scored in the first inning for the third game in a row. Matt den Dekker crushed his first ever leadoff home run to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
But they could have had much more.
Duffey left in the bottom of the fifth after getting hit in the arm by a comeback liner off the bat of den Dekker.
The Twins bullpen was up to the task for the next few innings. The Nationals put together at least two hits in the third, fifth and seventh innings, but were unable to plate a run.