The news on Kurt Suzuki’s injured elbow was relatively good, considering the veteran said he felt “tingling” and “zings” (medical terms) after he made a throw to second base in Saturday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves in SunTrust Park.
Reports after Sunday’s finale, which the Washington Nationals won, avoiding a sweep after dropping the first three with their NL East rivals, said the MRI on Suzuki’s elbow revealed a bit of inflammation, and the catcher is currently day-to-day, though the team did call up an additional backstop, Tres Barrera, to join them in Atlanta.
Yan Gomes, who hadn’t caught Max Scherzer since May, got the start in the fourth of four with the Braves, and went 2 for 4 with two home runs, continuing a solid stretch (12 for 38, .316/.366/.658, four doubles, three home runs in 10 games and 41 plate appearances) that followed a 1 for 18 start to the month of August, while guiding the Nationals’ ace through a six-inning, 98-pitch outing in which he gave up just a run on two hits.
Gomes’ focus, as most catchers will tell you, is on the receiving end, and anything he’s able to produce offensively is a bonus.
“I was brought up being told that, being a catcher, you got to worry about your pitching staff, getting them through games,” he explained, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“Anything you do offensively are pluses, and both of us have tried to get this pitching staff through some games. We come out with the win and no matter what, we did our job. But putting some numbers up offensively, it’s always a plus, for sure.”
Bench coach Chip Hale, who took over the managerial duties when Davey Martinez went and got ejected in the fifth inning, talked after the game about the home runs Gomes hit.
“Obviously that was huge,” Hale told reporters.
“Two home runs, catching a day game in this heat, after a night game, a long one last night, so he’s the MVP for today for me, handling all that pitching, and obviously he even went out in the ninth inning, it was getting tight there.”
With three runs in the ninth, the Braves got within five, 9-4, but that was as close as they got in the Nationals’ only win of the series against their divisional rivals, who finished the series 10.0 games ahead of their only remaining (legitimate) competition for the NL East crown.
Now the Nationals takes on the NL Central-leading Minnesota Twins (88-55), as they try to hold on to the lead in the NL Wild Card race (+3.0).
Gomes, 32, and coming off a .266/.313/.449, 26 double, 16 home run, 2.4 fWAR campaign in Cleveland when he was acquired by Washington this winter, finished the series in Atlanta at .217/.315/.364, with 11 doubles and nine home runs in 81 games and 295 PAs, after he played in 112 games and made 435 PAs last season.
He’ll get the bulk of the playing time until Suzuki’s able to return to sharing catching duties, and the Nationals need him to step up down the stretch. He’s off to a good start.