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Sweet 16th: Walk-off caps Nats' comebacks

April 24, 2016

WASHINGTON -- Nearly six hours after first pitch Sunday, Nationals outfielder Chris Heisey smashed a 1-1 pitch over the left-center-field fence to send the Nats to a 6-5 victory and series sweep over the Twins and end a game that had more twists than a season of "Game of Thrones.""This

WASHINGTON -- Nearly six hours after first pitch Sunday, Nationals outfielder Chris Heisey smashed a 1-1 pitch over the left-center-field fence to send the Nats to a 6-5 victory and series sweep over the Twins and end a game that had more twists than a season of "Game of Thrones."
"This is the craziest. Yeah, this is the craziest," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said when asked where this game ranked among the wildest he'd been a part of. "We always say: Go to the ballpark, you always see something you've never seen before. Well, I certainly hadn't seen anything like this. This was crazy."
Heisey's home run capped one of the craziest games of the season, one that featured a Bryce Harper game-tying homer, a key bunt single by a relief pitcher and several replay reviews. Brian Dozier launched a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning, but Harper tied the game in the ninth with a pinch-hit blast to right-center. The teams traded scoreless frames for five innings before Miguel Sano drove in the go-ahead run in the 15th. But Washington responded with a walk, a stolen base and an Oliver Perez bunt that induced a throwing error, allowing the game-tying run to score. An inning later came Heisey's homer.
"Just an all-around awesome game to be a part of, and I'm glad we ended up with the W," Heisey said. "Those are the ones that really sting when you come out of it with a loss after that long period of time."
Long before the late-inning heroics at the plate, Sunday's game was a pitchers' duel. Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 Twins in 7 1/3 innings before allowing the home run to Dozier, while Minnesota's Tyler Duffey allowed one run in four innings but was forced to exit the game after being hit in the arm by a line drive in the fifth.
Unlikely hero: Heisey didn't enter Sunday's game until the ninth inning as a replacement for Michael Taylor, who was pinch-hit for by Harper, but he ended it drenched in Gatorade as the Nationals' hero. The outfielder's 16th-inning home run off Michael Tonkin ended the six-hour marathon and gave Washington its first walk-off win of the season.

Thrown away: The Twins looked all but assured up victory up 5-4 in the 15th inning with relief pitcher Perez at the plate. Batting for the first time since 2010, Perez laid a bunt down the third-base line, which Minnesota catcher John Ryan Murphy picked up and threw past the first baseman and into the outfield, allowing Danny Espinosa to score from second.

"I don't fault a catcher who can end the game on making a play. If he makes a play, the game is over," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It looked like he never really got a really good grip on it." More >
Harper does it again: Harper had a scheduled day off Sunday from Baker, but was allowed to pinch-hit to start the ninth. He mashed his first career pinch-hit home run to tie the game and force extra innings. More >

Dozier goes deep: Long before Heisey's walk-off home run, Dozier looked like the hero. With two men on base in the eighth inning, Dozier crushed a 3-2 pitch from Strasburg into the the left field seats for a three-run homer. The blast gave the Twins the lead and knocked Strasburg from the game.
"We come to expect that he's going to do something special. You can't not expect it when he's been doing it as consistently as he's been doing it. I find myself putting really unfair expectations on him. If he gets jammed or pops out, it's like, 'What the heck, Harp?'." -- Heisey on Harper
At five hours and 56 minutes, Sunday was the longest game in Washington Nationals history in terms of time, and it is tied for the longest in terms of innings.
Heisey began the 14th inning with a slow roller to the third baseman Eduardo Nunez but was called out on a close play at first base. After a crew chief review of one minute and 39 seconds, the call was overturned and Heisey was ruled safe at first, although two batters later Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play to end the inning.

With two outs in the 15th inning, Nunez attempted to steal second base but was ruled to have been thrown out by Jose Lobaton. The Twins challenged the call, however, and after a four-minute, seven-second review, it was overturned to award Nunez second base and continue the inning for Minnesota.

Twins: Minnesota returns home Monday to begin a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians. Tommy Milone gets the start for the Twins, who will honor late recording artist Prince before the game. Utility man Danny Santana is likely to return from his hamstring injury Monday.
Nationals: After an off-day Monday, Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Nats as they host the Phillies for a three-game series. Scherzer will make the start on normal rest in place of right-hander Joe Ross, who had his turn skipped in the rotation because of a blister on his right middle finger.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for based in Washington.