Washington’s Nationals didn’t have too many opportunities in the 2-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles last night in the nation’s capital, but two of the best shots they had against the O’s came with Adam Eaton at the plate.
After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, Trea Turner singled to start the bottom of the first, and stole second base, but Adam Eaton K’d swinging at a 3-2 slider up in the zone and both Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto followed with strikeouts to strand the leadoff hit.
Orioles’ starter Aaron Brooks gave up another single in the Nats’ second, then retired four in a row before a walk and hit-by-pitch in the fourth, after which he retired six straight to end his outing.
Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro combined for a scoreless seventh, but the Nationals got another opportunity against hard-throwing Hunter Harvey in the eighth.
Turner tripled with one out, but Eaton K’d swinging over a 1-2 changeup in an eight-pitch at bat, and after Rendon and Soto walked to load the bases, Asdrúbal Cabrera K’d swinging at a 99 MPH 1-2 fastball from Harvey to end the threat.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked after the 2-0 loss, if he’d considered a pinch hitter there instead of sticking with Cabrera, who was 0 for 3 with a K at that point, coming off a road trip in which he went 6 for 18 with a double, two homers, three walks, and three Ks in six games (four starts) and 22 plate appearances.
“Asdrubal has been really good for us, so I like him right there, no doubt about it, you’re not going to pinch hit for him,” Martinez said.
He also told reporters that he’d take Eaton up in the opportunities he had any night though he didn’t come through the at bats last night.
Eaton was on a nice run, going 14-for-36 (.389 AVG) with three doubles, a triple, four home runs, seven walks, and 13 runs scored in his previous nine games, with a .346/.452/.654 line on the month, and a .291/.377/.439 line overall on the year before his 0 for 4 game against the O’s.
“You want him up there,” Martinez said. “He’s been so good, he really has. All these guys have been hitting the ball.
“It’s one of those days,” he added, “... that’s why they call it baseball, it’s just one of those days today where we didn’t hit, we couldn’t score any runs.
“They scored two, the first inning, and that’s the way it ended up, so we’ve just got to come back tomorrow and try to score first, and try to score more than them.”
“Offensively we need to spark something there, late especially,” Eaton said after the Nats’ loss. “I had runners in scoring position with less than two outs and needed to get that run in and then bases loaded, but it’s baseball at the end of the day, and let’s not get too high or get too low, let’s get back to where we were two days ago, so we’ll wash it and try to split tomorrow.”
Asked to break down the eighth inning at bat against Harvey, which saw him foul off a total of six pitches, four of them after he fell behind 0-2, before taking a ball, and striking out on a filthy changeup, Eaton went into depth about the matchup with the Orioles’ hard-throwing rookie, who worked into and out of trouble in his fourth big league appearance.
“He was throwing 99, so just missing it,” Eaton said off all the fouled-off fastballs, “and then I knew he had a changeup and a breaking ball, so with those two pitches in mind in the back of my head, I kind of have to be in-between, it’s kind of a crappy place to be, but when a guy is throwing 99 with two pitches he throws in the teens, percentile, it’s kind of tough.
“The first changeup I saw was straight, and kind of just went down, that was the one I fouled off, and then the one I struck out on had a really good two-seam run, and kind of went away from me, so you know kind of credit to him. He throws hard, and like I said, didn’t ever throw me a breaking ball, so I’m just trying to battle in that situation, and like I said, but then the guys come up and have two good at bats, too.
“Soto and Tony have two really good at bats to get us in position, but like I said, we’ve been getting the big hits lately, and like you mentioned earlier, sometimes you kind of run into that.”
Did he think the first and eighth inning at bats were good at bats, even though he struck out in both?
“The one in the eighth definitely not bad, the guy’s again, throwing 99,” Eaton said, “... it sounds like a vacuum cleaner going by me, it’s pretty serious heat. The first at bat, you’re just trying to feel him out and I saw a lot of his pitches in that at bat, so I have to say that was a good at bat for me as well, and just trying to grind the at bats out and just see as many pitches as possible. We’ve seen the guy before, he kind of pitched us different than he had pitched us today, so like I said, you’ve got to take the positives away from it.
“0 for 4 is never fun, but you’ve got to take the positives away from it and look forward to tomorrow.”