Washington’s Nationals scored four runs in the first inning of last night’s game, with Howie Kendrick driving in two with a two-out single off San Diego Padres’ lefty Joey Lucchesi and Brian Dozier hitting a two-run blast in the next at bat to make it 4-0 early.
Lucchesi shut the Nationals out after the first inning, however, and after the Nationals left the bases loaded in the top of the second, the Padres’ southpaw and San Diego’s relief corps combined to retire the final 20 batters who came to the plate for the visiting team in what ended up a 5-4 loss for Washington in Petco Park.
“We came out swinging the bats, and then all of a sudden [Lucchesi] came out and started mixing his pitches a lot better,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said after a season-high, four-game win streak came to an end.
“Credit to him,” the manager continued, “he kept us off-balance after that first inning. We just couldn’t get anything going. Next inning we had bases loaded, and Juan [Soto] put a good at bat, got to 3-2, and couldn’t get it done, but he kept them in the game.”
Luchessi was done after five innings, and then Matt Wisler, Trey Wingenter, Craig Stammen, and Kirby Yates combined for four scoreless and hitless innings to lock down the 5-4 win.
“Their bullpen comes in and we know that when they throw strikes they’re tough to hit, and the closer is pretty good over there right now, pitching well,” Martinez told reporters in San Diego “... and like I said, it was one of those days, we came out, we swung the bat well the first couple innings and then they shut us down.”
The Nationals finished the night with four hits total, and Dozier, who hit his homer and then a double for the Nats’ final hit of the night in the third, had two of them, and though he’s got just a .229/.321/.410 line on the season, the 32-year-old infielder has put up a .333/.393/.648 line in his last 18 games (15 starts) and 61 plate appearances, with five of seven doubles and four of his nine home runs on the season coming in that stretch.
“He’s on time every pitch,” Martinez said, when asked what’s gone well for Dozier in the last few weeks, “... which is helping him stay back and see the ball a little bit better, but here’s a guy — we’ve said this before, he’s a very slow starter, and we knew that, now all of a sudden things are starting to click for him. He’s going to hit his homers, you now, but I love the fact that he’s starting to use the whole field, especially with guys on base.”
Dozier actually has a respectable .278/.356/.430 line with three doubles and three homers in 90 PAs with runners on this season after last night’s game, and he’s 6 for 11 overall so far in the month of June. Maybe he is really heating up along with the weather?
Dozier’s back in there tonight in the second of four in Petco Park...