Adam Eaton went 0 for 5 in the series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, striking out twice, grounding out twice, and lining out to center field in what was a fourth hitless game in the first twelve this season. He started off Saturday’s matchup with a 10-pitch battle against Bucs’ starter Chris Archer which ended with one of the four hits the right-hander allowed in his seven innings on the mound.
Eaton singled again in the third, sending a 1-2 changeup from Archer back up the middle for his second hit of the game.
He sent a fly to center for an out in the fifth, and, after Archer was done, went nine pitches deep against Pirates’ right-hander Richard Rodríguez, while trailing 2-1 in the eighth, and connected on a 94 MPH 3-2 fastball that went out to right field for a game-tying solo home run.
Eaton grounded out on a 2-0 pitch from Rodríguez on Friday night, failing to bring a runner in from third after a leadoff double by Matt Adams and a sac bunt that moved him over with one down. Eaton got the best of the reliever after seeing nine more pitches from him in the eighth on Saturday.
“I saw that guy yesterday,” Eaton said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the Nats’ 3-2 win on Saturday.
“I saw three pitches and took a bad swing on a pitch that I thought I could maybe hit a single with.
“Today I was just going in there trying to battle again,” he added. “I’m just fortunate good things happened.”
“He was swinging at balls in the strike zone,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said when asked about the ten and nine-pitch at bats Eaton put together in what ended up a 3 for 4 game.
“He’s got to lay off the balls up, and when he gets balls in the strike zone, he puts good at bats up. That’s why I like him up in that leadoff spot, because he could run 8-9-10-pitch at bats, and also get a hit after that, but he’s just really good up there.”
Howie Kendrick followed up on Eaton’s home run with a solo blast of his own that gave the Nationals the 3-2 lead that held up.
Kendrick went 1 for 2 with two walks, leaving him 6 for 10 with two doubles, two home runs, and four walks in seven games since he came off the Injured List for a hamstring injury he’d suffered in Spring Training.
“He’s seeing the ball really well,” Martinez said of the hot start for the veteran infielder, “but he’s trusting his hands, and he’s a good hitter. He’s always been a good hitter. The biggest thing with Howie is keeping him healthy, and we need to do that.”
Martinez said he also has to get Brian Dozier going, so as good as Kendrick has been early, they’re both going to get starts.
“Howie is Howie,” he explained. “He knows his role. But we’ve also got to get [Dozier] going.”
Dozier is 7 for 43 thus far, .163/.217/.233, with a home run, two walks, and 11 Ks in 46 plate appearances, but Martinez said he’s seen positive signs over the last few games.
“Once he starts going, which I’ve seen some big improvement lately, he’s going to be fine, and he’s going to help us win a lot of games.”
As much as he needs to get Dozier going, Martinez is sticking with what worked today.
Eaton is back on top this afternoon, in the series finale with the Pirates, and it’s Kendrick at second base again. Victor Robles is getting a day off too, with Michael A. Taylor starting in center.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE 3RD OF 3 IN D.C.:
No better place to be than Washington, DC.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 14, 2019
Especially on a #Scherzday pic.twitter.com/U7pCK5ACLK