Davey Martinez didn’t want to have to go to his beleaguered bullpen for right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who was warming with the score tied at 2-2 in the ninth, so he made a decision to send pinch hitter Mark Reynolds to the plate. Marlins’ right-hander Kyle Barraclough fell behind the veteran slugger, 3-0, got a swinging strike with a fastball, 3-1, then grooved one and gave up a walk-off home run that sailed out to left as the Washington Nationals stormed the field to celebrate another emotional win a night after they rallied from a 9-0 deficit to beat Miami for the twelfth straight time. Make it a baker’s dozen.
“That was a big pick-me-up,” Martinez said after Reynolds’ eighth home run sent fans in the nation’s capital home happy. “Can’t say enough about Mark. He’s that guy. At that point we needed one swing just like that.
“Thought about pinch hitting Michael [A. Taylor]. He gets on you can steal, but then what. So I said we need somebody who can hit a home run right now and Mark was the perfect guy and he did.”
“I know Davey put me up there for one reason,” Reynold said when he was asked how he’d changed his approach when he got to 3-0, if he did.
That’s a (Reynolds) wrap. pic.twitter.com/aEmoEHKXJG— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 7, 2018
“I got ahead in the count and was able to get a — I mean, he missed his spot, he tried to go away, and the whole at bat everything was kind of sailing inside, so was looking for it right there, and was able to catch up to it.”
Avoiding extra innings, and having to use Rodriguez, the Nats’ skipper explained, was huge for the team.
“Honestly that was on my mind, that’s one of the big reasons I liked Mark in that situation, because we would have burnt Jefry and Monday would have been another conversation.
“So, it was a big win, and I always tell these guys, one more than the other guys, whether it’s 14-12 or whatever, 3-2, just get one more than the other guys.”
The second straight win, in rather dramatic fashion, Reynolds said, was a big deal.
“Well, yeah, it matters,” the veteran explained, “you saw us win in Philly, blew them out and couldn’t muster anything after that because there was no pressure, no excitement, you know, we won, cool, whatever, and then we came out flat, and then I’ve never seen a win like that, last night, at any level of professional baseball, and to come back last night and win and then tonight a little closer game, but it’s fun to have pressure situations and at bats that matter, so I think it’s — I don’t want to say it’s a turning point of the season, but hopefully it instills some confidence in here that gets us back to who we know we are.”
Reynolds has received a confidence boost as well. He hit six home runs in his first 48 plate appearances after joining the Nationals in mid-May, then went 51 PAs without one before a solo home run in the Nationals’ 17-7 win over the Phillies on June 29th. He’s now 6 for 17 in his last seven games (five starts) with five walks and seven Ks in 23 PAs.
“He’s actually been staying on top of the ball a lot better,” Martinez explained, “... not getting underneath. Remember he went through a stretch where he was fouling everything straight back, straight back, and I told him just try to stay left-center field, and we talked about it, and stay through the ball a little longer and get your hits and I’ve seen him before get two strikes and shoot the ball to right field, you know. And I said, ‘Hey, when you get two strikes, just stay on the ball and he’s been doing that. He’s hit some unbelievable line drives as of late, and today, 3-0, I let him swing, he just missed a fastball, 3-1 he swung and hit one out of the ballpark.”
“Normally I play every day so it’s kind of easier to get out of,” Reynolds said of the rough stretch.
“Getting spot starts and pinch hits and normally off the back end of the bullpen it’s a little more tough to get some confidence and get some swings, and I got a couple days there in Philly where I put some good at bats together got a few hits, hit a home run and kind of got the ball rolling the other way, because it was unraveling real quick. That day got me going again, and a lot more confident when I go up to the plate now.”