If it wasn’t obvious before, then the Nationals 5-2 victory over the Phillies last night made it clear: Washington has Philadelphia’s number. Behind the steady, if not brilliant pitching of Jordan Zimmermann and the hitting of Bryce Harper, Rick Ankiel and Ian Desmond the Nationals continued their dominance of a team picked by many to take the N.L. East.
There was no single key to the game, the outcome of which never seemed in doubt. But perhaps it was Washington’s failure to be intimidated by Phillies ace Roy Halladay, who was 11-1 against the Nationals in sixteen career starts. Last night, Halladay was just average — which has to be a source of concern for the Philadelphia brain trust.
The highlight of the game may well have come in the third inning, when Washington’s Bryce Harper took a Halladay hanging curve and hit it into right center for a triple. The hit plated two and upset what more than a few Phillies’ fans hoped would be another Halladay victory.
“I was looking for a first-pitch curveball and I got it,” Harper said. “I was just trying to hit something up the middle and score some runs.”
“The kid smoked it. That was really the turning point in the game, as far as I’m concerned,” Johnson said of Harper’s hit. “He doesn’t look fazed by anybody. He is going to get his hacks. … Every time I’ve ever seen him, he is not going to get cheated. He has a pretty good idea what he is going to do. … He is just looking for a ball he can drive. He got one right there.”
Halladay’s troubles continued, as the Phillies failed to put enough runs on the board to support him. After Harper’s triple, Adam LaRoche lofted a fly ball to score him, and Ian Desmond followed that with his eighth homer of the year. Rick Ankiel hit his third home run of the season in the 4th. It would be all that Washington needed.