It looked like Washington’s Nationals were headed for another loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the home-half of the eighth inning this afternoon, with the Nationals trailing, 2-1, after struggling to get much going all day, but a pitching change provided hope, and Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick came up big on back-to-back, two-out jacks off reliever Richard Rodríguez to put the home team ahead, 3-2.
Sánchez vs the Pirates: Davey Martinez talked, after Aníbal Sánchez’s second start with the Nationals, about how the veteran starter pitches backwards and keeps hitters off-balance.
“He’s smart,” Martinez explained. “Aníbal is very smart. He doesn’t give in.
“The biggest thing, he doesn’t give in and he’s always around the plate, so he has a game plan when he’s out there pitching and he sticks to that game plan.”
Sánchez gave up 11 hits and seven earned runs in 9 2⁄3 IP (6.57 ERA) in his first two starts this season, both of them against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was going up against Pittsburgh’s Pirates this afternoon in his third start with Washington after signing a 2-year/$19M deal this winter.
Sánchez tossed three scoreless to start the game, but a low liner to left with one down in the top of the fourth caused trouble when Juan Soto came up empty on a diving attempt, allowing Josh Bell to take third as the ball rolled to the left field wall. Colin Moran followed with a double to right on a 3-2 splitter, 1-0 Pirates.
It was 1-1 in the fifth when Sánchez took the hill, and worked around an error in a 10-pitch frame, but he gave up a two-out solo home run to right by Melky Cabrera on an 0-2 slider up in the zone that he probably wants back, 2-1 Pirates.
An 11-pitch seventh left the 35-year-old veteran at 100 pitches total on the afternoon, and he was done for the day at that point...
Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 100 P, 63 S, 8/6 GO/FO.
Archer in D.C.: Pirates’ starter Chris Archer tossed five scoreless innings in his 2019 debut, then gave up five hits and three earned runs in six innings in start No. 2, leaving him with a 2.45 ERA in 11 IP early in the 2019 campaign.
This afternoon, the 30-year-old right-hander was lined up against the Nationals in start No. 3 of his eighth major league season, and he tossed three scoreless on 50 pitches to start the second of three for the Pirates in D.C., before giving up a leadoff double to right field by Anthony Rendon and a two-out RBI single by Kurt Suzuki, who tied things up at 1-1 after the visiting team jumped out a lead in the top of the inning.
Anthony Rendon's last 12 G:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 13, 2019
March 30 - 1B, 2B
March 31 - 2 1B
April 2 - 1B, HR
April 3 - 1B, 2B, HR
April 4 - 2B
April 6 - 2B, HR
April 7 - HR
April 8 - 2B
April 9 - 1B, 2B
April 10 - 1B, 2B
April 12 - 2 HR
April 13 - 2B pic.twitter.com/2DKxesRdCk
Given a 2-1 lead to work with in the top of the sixth, Archer returned to the mound and gave up a four-pitch, leadoff walk to Howie Kendrick, which was quickly erased on the second 6-4-3 DP of the game for the Pirates’ starter (both of Rendon’s bat), and he struck Juan Soto out with a 3-2 changeup to end a quick, 12-pitch inning that left him at 85 pitches overall.
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh left him at 94 overall for the day, and he was done at that point.
Chris Archer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 94 P, 60 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
Rendon is Streaking: With the first of his two homers in last night’s game, Anthony Rendon extended his hit streak to 11-straight games, over which he’s gone 20 for 43 (.465 AVG) with seven doubles, six home runs, 16 RBIs, five walks, and 17 runs scored, and he also extended a nine-game extra-base hit streak with the first blast (which was his 5th of the season).
Rendon doubled to right on a 1-2 fastball from Chris Archer in his second at bat of the game this afternoon, with the opposite field hit extending his hit streak to 12-straight games and his extra-base hit streak to 10 in a row. He scored on an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki to tie it up at 1-1 at that point...
BULLPEN ACTION: Wander Suero took over for the Nationals with the score 2-1 Pirates in the top of the eighth, and tossed a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame to keep it a one-run game.
Richard Rodríguez retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth, then gave up back-to-back jacks by Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick, respectively, as the Nationals went up, 3-2.
Sean Doolittle came on for the save opportunity, and worked around a leadoff single and one-out walk to end it. Ballgame. 3-2 final.
Nationals now 7-6