Michael Taylor’s home run in his big league debut overshadowed everything else in the Nationals’ 7-1 victory Tuesday night, but three other highlights stood out as well:
>>> Doug Fister’s ascension to undisputed staff ace continued apace as he allowed no runs on seven hits and no walks in seven rain-soaked innings. Fister reacted to the soggy conditions and a 25-minute rain delay as if neither existed.
“Honestly, that wasn’t long enough to really be a mental factor,” Fister said. “It’s something I kind of looked at as, okay, a long offensive innings. I played a little catch, and we’re off and running. I try and not let any outside factor affect him. It’s just matter of going out there and making the same pitch.”
Fister’s season is remarkable enough on the surface — he’s 12-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 17 starts. But it may be even better than that. Remove his first start of the season, when he was coming off a strained lat and hadn’t pitched in eight days, and his numbers are staggering: In 16 starts, Fister is 12-2 with a 2.01 ERA, having allowed 13 walks and 97 hits and struck out 67 in 107 1/3 innings.
The coolest stat of Fister’s season might be this: Opponents have not stolen a single base off him this year, and they have only tried once.
>>> Ian Desmond hit a laser over the left field fence, a two-run shot in the fifth inning that gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead and knocked out starter Rafael Montero. Desmond is hitting just .244 with a .298 on-base percentage, but all season he’s delivered crucial hits and is the most dangerous bat in the Nationals’ lineup. He leads the Nationals with 20 homers and 72 RBI. His power numbers the past three seasons are unrivaled among big league shortstops. Desmond is the only major league shortstop with 20 home runs in the past three seasons. Only Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy, who has only six homers this year, could match the feat.
“It’s difficult to do,” Manager Matt Williams said. “He also steals some bases for us, and his defense has been fantastic. He’s certainly been one of our leaders on the club, and he wants to play every day. So you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
>>> Bryce Harper mashed his fifth homer of the season and his second in five games. Like the walk-off blast he hit Thursday, Harper’s home run sailed over the left field fence — an oppo boppo, he might call it. Harper smashed Montero’s first pitch, a fastball over the plate that allowed him to extend his arms. It’s a good sign that Harper is going to left field, but he explained that it’s not necessarily a special emphasis.
“I’m just trying to come in every single day and stay with that same routine, try to just have good at-bats and see where it goes,” Harper said. “It’s nice to hit a ball the other way. But I don’t want to get so mentally hitting the ball the other way where I miss those pitches in. I’m just trying to see something out over and simplify a little bit.”
FROM THE POST
Back from vacation, Boz can look at the Nationals from a different angle.
Michael A. Taylor’s powerful debut stood out for what it meant to him and the Nationals’ entire organization.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 9, Charlotte 3: Brandon Laird went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a home run. Tyler Moore went 2 for 3 with two doubles. Eury Perez went 2 for 2. Aaron Laffey pitched a five-inning complete game and allowed three runs on five hits and a walk, striking out four.
Harrisburg was postponed.
Potomac was postponed.
Hagerstown was postponed.
Auburn was postponed.