Davey Martinez had some decisions to make after he learned, about 45 minutes before the 7:05 PM start time of last night’s game, that Juan Soto was going on the 10-Day Injured List with a strain in his left shoulder.
Soto had originally been penciled in as the Nationals’ No. 2 hitter against St. Louis, with Trea Turner leading off, and Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber behind him in the 3-4 spots against the Cardinals.
Martinez decided to put Andrew Stevenson up top, with a red-hot Josh Harrison, who finally struck out for the first time this season last night, in his 31st plate appearance, at No. 2, and Turner at No. 3 against veteran righty Adam Wainwright.
“I kind of assessed everything and what we want to do,” Martinez explained after the club’s 3-2 win over the Cards.
“I thought getting — I know [Stevenson] against right-handed pitching he sees the ball well.
“J-Hay is swinging the bat really well, so I decided to move him up to No. 2, and then Trea is actually seeing the ball really well, so I gave him an opportunity today, he’s done it in Spring Training — I told him there was a possibility he might do it this year, so for me it was a no-brainer to make him No. 3 and put Josh Bell four, and Schwarber five.”
While they didn’t generate much in the way of runs against Wainwright, who gave up just one on a Bell homer in the sixth, they made the most of the opportunities they got against reliever Giovanny Gallegos in the eighth, rallying from a 2-1 deficit with a walk, hit-by-pitch, and RBI single from Stevenson, Harrison, and Turner, respectively, 2-2, before Schwarber got a base-loading, intentional walk, with one down, and Yan Gomes took a two-out free pass to put the home team ahead for good, 3-2.
They’ll obviously miss Soto’s presence in the lineup, for at least the next 10 days, but as the Nationals’ shortstop said last night, they have to step up without him and do what they can until the 22-year-old is available once again.
“Yeah just keep grinding,” Turner told reporters in a post game Zoom call.
“Find ways to win ballgames. Even when you’re not hitting doubles and homers or striking everybody out. I think it was a good ballgame.
“We fought against Wainwright, he threw great, and got that [Bell] homer, and then they came back and battled, and we came back and battled, so it was just a good baseball game, and glad we came out on top.”
Turner said he didn’t feel additional pressure to produce just because Soto is out. It’s a team effort, he stressed, and they all have to come together to make up for the absence.
“We all got to play well in order to win ballgames, you know, and I say it all the time, but it’s true, it’s not a one-man show, it’s a team sport,” Turner said.
“So, we need to pitch well, we need to play defense, and we need to hit. So, hopefully we can pick him up and like I said I think yesterday or the day before, when somebody goes down, next man up, and we’ve got to play well. I thought Stevenson had a great game in his absence, and hopefully we can just play well and kind of survive without him. Obviously, he’s a big part, but we need to play good baseball.”
They’ll try to do that this afternoon when they look for a series win in the finale of the three-game set with the Cardinals (4:05 PM ET in D.C.).