Aníbal Sánchez balked in a run, which frustrated the 36-year-old, 15-year veteran, but it was the only run he gave up in five innings of work tonight in the series opener with Philadelphia in D.C., and the Washington Nationals beat the Phillies for the first time in seven games with their NL East rivals this season, 5-1 final.
Sánchez vs PHI: Aníbal Sánchez gave up nine hits, a walk, and four runs, three earned, in 3 1⁄3 IP when he faced the Phillies earlier this month in Citizens Bank Park. Sánchez threw 74 pitches in those 3+ innings of work, and he gave up two hits and a walk in his final inning of work, before the Nationals went to the bullpen early in that outing.
“I don’t know man, I don’t really have a lot of words to explain what happened today,” he said when asked to assess the outing.
“But early I felt really good. I felt really good all game. My command I think was there. It’s hard when everything is coming out good. I think every contact that they did today, they found a hole.”
Going up against the Phillies again tonight in the nation’s capital, Sánchez started with three scoreless, as the Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and worked around back-to-back, one-out singles in a 21-pitch fourth.
A two-out walk and single in the top of the fifth set Bryce Harper up with an RBI opportunity in a 2-0 game, with runners on the corners, and Sánchez balked on a feint throw to first that allowed Mickey Moniak, who’d walked, to trot in from third base, 2-1. Harper K’d swinging for out No. 3, and the 28-pitch frame pushed Sánchez up to 105 pitches and ended his outing.
Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks, 105 P, 59 S, 4/0 GO/FO.
Wheeler vs WSH: Zack Wheeler held the Nationals scoreless over 6 2⁄3 IP, giving up three hits and two walks, and earning his fourth win of the season in a 3-0 win in Citizens Bank Park back on September 2nd.
In nine starts overall this season, Wheeler, who signed a 5-year/$118M free agent deal with the Phillies this past winter, had a 2.62 ERA with nine walks, 38 Ks, and a .255/.300/.361 line against in 58 1⁄3 IP, going unbeaten in the first year of his contract (4-0) with the Phillies 6-3 in his outings before tonight.
Zack Wheeler, 97mph Dart. pic.twitter.com/UpsRWz5xS7— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 21, 2020
“We hit the ball hard, a couple lineouts, it just didn’t go our way today,” Davey Martinez said after his club was shut out by Wheeler and the Philly bullpen in that outing.
“At the end of the game, all I could tell the boys, keep swinging the bats, keep hitting the ball hard.”
Andrew Stevenson doubled to start the bottom of the first tonight, moved up on a fly to right, and scored on an RBI single by Asdrúbal Cabrera, to make it 1-0 early in the series opener in D.C.
Juan Soto, who walked with one down in the first inning, moved up on Cabrera’s hit, and took third when Brock Holt grounded into a force at second, scored from third on a Holt stolen base attempt at second when Philly catcher Andrew Knapp threw it away, 2-0.
Wheeler retired nine in a row after a second walk to Soto in the first at bat of the third, and he was up to 89 pitches after five when he retired the side in order in an eight-pitch frame.
Back-to-back singles by Asdrúbal Cabrera and Brock Holt started the sixth, however, and a fly to center by Kurt Suzuki allowed Cabrera to advance to third before he scored on a Luis García swinging bunt to make it 3-1 in the Nationals’ favor.
Say "cheese" for a good ol' (swinging) safety squeeze! pic.twitter.com/Jc5nWSVmEh— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) September 22, 2020
Before he was done for the night, Wheeler hit Carter Kieboom on the left wrist with a 95 MPH 2-2 sinker that took Kieboom out of the game and ended the starter’s outing as well.
Zack Wheeler’s Line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 113 P, 69 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
Stevens-on-base: Andrew Stevenson connected for hits in four games over the weekend in Miami, going 4 for 8 with a double, two walks, and five RBIs in the series, and he came back to the nation’s capital and was inserted atop Davey Martinez’s lineup for the series opener.
The first time up against Phillies’ starter Zack Wheeler, the 26-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick doubled to left, over the third base bag, for his second two-base hit and a five-game streak.
BULLPEN ACTION: Wander Suero hit Alec Bohm in the first at bat of the sixth after taking over on the mound, but struck the next two batters out and got a grounder to the mound from Jay Bruce for out No. 3 of a 16-pitch frame.
Blake Parker took over for the Phillies with two on and two out and Victor Robles at the plate in the sixth, and walked Robles to load’em up in front of Andrew Stevenson, who K’d looking to end the threat.
Kyle Finnegan walked Andrew Knapp to start the seventh, but a 3-6-3 DP took Knapp off the bases, and the Nationals’ right-handed reliever stranded a two-out single as well in an 18-pitch frame that kept it a 3-1 game in the Nats’ favor.
Parker gave up a leadoff single by Trea Turner in the bottom of the seventh, and Turner stole second before Asdrúbal Cabrera walked, and Brock Holt hit an opposite field single with the runner moving off second, 4-1, when Turner scored, and Cabrera came in on an E:7 error on the throw in by Mickey Moniak in left, 5-1.
Ramón Rosso came on for Parker with Holt on second and one out, and got two outs to get out of the inning with the Phillies behind by four.
Will Harris struck out two in a 14-pitch eighth, and Daniel Hudson worked around a two-out walk and double to end it. Ballgame.
Final Score: 5-1 Nationals
Nationals now 21-32