Victor Robles singled to drive in a run early in last night’s series opener with the Braves in SunTrust Park. Howie Kendrick homered late, for what did end up being the winning run. But it was a big sixth inning in Atlanta, in which Washington’s offense sent nine batters to the plate, and scored three runs, with back-to-back doubles by Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki to start the frame, a one-out hit-by-pitch on Victor Robles, and three consecutive, two-out walks (by Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, and Anthony Rendon — who actually walked more than he K’d in college) that impressed manager Davey Martinez.
“They’ve been swinging the bats a lot better, seeing a lot more pitches, trying to get a pitch that they can drive, and they’re really trying to stay in the middle of the field, which is kind of nice,” Martinez said, “but their at bats have been really, really good. And they worked — they got big walks. Adam Eaton fought and got a big walk for us, they all — like I said, I look back at the game, and they really — I mean, we had some balls, the first seven balls we hit were really hard, we couldn’t get any hits, but they hit the ball really well.”
The Nationals combined for 11 hits total, scoring five runs, and they took six walks from the Braves’ pitchers, though they also went just 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and 12 left on base, and had two baserunning gaffes, with both Trea Turner (off second base in the first) and Eaton (off first base in the fifth) getting picked off by Braves’ lefty Max Fried (who does have really good pickoff moves).
So a good game, yes, and a win, but not one without some of the same issues the Nationals have been battling all season (including another rough eighth by the bullpen which turned a three-run lead into a one-run margin).
“We took 3 out of 4 from Miami, and then to come here and to get day one against a really good pitcher is huge for us,” Eaton said after going 0 for 2 with an RBI on the bases-loaded walk he took in the sixth.
“Going forward, like I said, we’ve been playing better baseball, I think we were still bad on the bases, Trea and I both, just unacceptable on both parts, just, again, really unacceptable, but grinded it out.”
“I guess that overall I think it’s a heck of a really good win,” Eaton added, “a good team win, something we can build on. Something we can continue to go forward with.”
“We can build on this and I think it’s important for us to get day one.”
Now they just have to get day two, as they continue to try to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve put themselves in over the first 55 games of the season.