Following a 2-0 shutout win over the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day, the Washington Nationals brought out the lumber Saturday afternoon to smack six extra-base hits and earn the club a 13-7 victory.
Four different Nationals left the yard including Adam Eaton, who reached base five times in as many plate appearances and finished a triple short of the cycle. The left fielder is now 6-for-8 on the season with five runs scored and three extra-base hits.
Nats manager Dave Martinez gave Ryan Zimmerman the day off, sliding Matt Adams into the cleanup spot behind Bryce Harper. The duo combined for five RBIs, highlighted by Adams’ three-run bomb in the top of the first. Harper went hitless on the day but scored a run and hit two sac flies.
Not-your-typical-sixth-hitter Trea Turner joined the party in the top of the fourth with his first hit of the season: a line-drive home run into the left field seats that put Washington up 5-0.
Reds starter Luis Castillo would only manage to go five innings, giving up at least one run in four of those frames.
Luis Castillo’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 85 P, 58 S, 6/3 GO/FO
Stephen Strasburg was one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half of last season.
Following the All-Star Break, he went (6-1) in 10 starts with an 0.86 ERA, 0.814 WHIP and 10.9 K/9 to propel him to third in NL Cy Young voting.
The Nats’ right-hander picked right up where he left off, striking out seven and allowing just one earned run over six and a third innings of work to pick up his first victory of the year.
His only blemish in the first five frames was a two-out solo homer off the bat of Scott Schebler.
Strasburg did run into consecutive nobody-out, bases-loaded jams in the sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth, Trea Turner bobbled a surefire double play to put runners on first and second. Joey Votto followed up the miscue with a walk and the bases were loaded for Scooter Gennett, who went 4-4 against Washington in the season opener.
Gennett singled to left and everyone on the bags moved up 90 feet. Two batters later, Adam Duvall hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field, scoring Eugenio Suarez and making it a 6-3 ballgame. Strasburg wasn’t charged with either run thanks to Turner’s error, but he’d run into the same situation only an inning later.
Back-to-back-to-back singles juiced the bases for Suarez, but Strasburg was able to get him to check his swing just enough on an 87-mph changeup for first base umpire Marvin Hudson to ring him up and give the Nats their first out of the inning. Dave Martinez then made his first mid-inning pitching change of his managerial career, giving the ball to southpaw Sammy Solis with lefties Votto and Gennett due up.
Votto doesn’t strike out very often, but Solis got him on a two-seamer that just got inside the top of the strike zone. Three pitches later, Solis and the rest of the Nats’ defense was jogging back to the dugout after Gennett grounded out to the pitcher’s mound and closed the book on Strasburg.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 99 P, 68 S, 6/6 GO/FO
Jackson Stephens took the mound for the top of the eighth, getting two quick outs to bring up Brian Goodwin. However, things fell apart pretty quickly for the Reds’ reliever after that. Goodwin and Matt Wieters hit back-to-back singles and Stephens saw a fastball get away from him to hit the pinch-hitting Zimmerman in the shoulder.
Who else but Eaton stepped up to the plate with the bases full. He worked a 3-2 count before slicing a single into left-center field that brought two runners home and put Washington ahead 9-3.
Despite being up four in the ninth, the Nats’ bats weren’t done doing some damage. With Kevin Quackenbush on the mound, the Nats used two walks sandwiched around a Howie Kendrick single to load the bases for Goodwin. The backup outfielder made his mark on the game with a grand slam to straightaway center field, putting an emphatic exclamation point on the afternoon for the Nats and pushing the game well out of reach for the Reds.
Matt Grace was the first Nationals reliever to allow a run in 2018 when he gave up a two-run homer to Adam Duvall in the eighth, but Enny Romero followed suit by allowing Suarez to leave the yard as well. Romero was able to get two outs after that before Trevor Gott came in for the final out of the afternoon.
The Nationals will be looking to sweep Cincinnati in the series finale Sunday afternoon when Gio Gonzalez takes the mound to face Sal Romano at 4:10 p.m.
Nationals now 2-0.