Yan Gomes got three shots at hitting for the cycle on Friday night, doubling, tripling, and singling in his first three trips to the plate in Chase Field, where Washington’s Nationals put up 17 runs on 22 hits in a 17-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gomes singled in his fourth and sixth plate appearances, the sixth against position player David Peralta, but a home run was not in the cards for the catcher.
Has the 10-year veteran ever had three shots at hitting for the cycle before that he can remember?
“No, I don’t think I’ve ever really had a shot at that,” Gomes said after the Nationals’ second straight win. “Yeah, it was one of those things, man, I took a shot I think in the fourth at bat when I got the base hit up the middle. And then I had a pitch to do it with, fouled it off, but then it kind of just goes back.
“I think you still just want to have a good at bat and take a good swing at a pitch. Didn’t get it done. But it’s still — we came out with the win.”
Gomes’s manager wanted to see the backstop swing for the fences after the first three hits of the night.
“I thought he would,” Davey Martinez said. “His last at bat against Peralta, he told me, ‘I just don’t want to strike out.’ [laughs].
“And good. Like I said, you don’t want to give away at bats, he stayed under the ball, but I was hoping he’d give it one shot and see if he could hit for that cycle.”
“Can’t say I enjoy those at bats very much,” Gomes said of facing a soft-tossing position player in Peralta.
“That was probably my most uncomfortable at bat, probably the hardest at bat today.
“Nothing against their pitchers at all, it’s just — you kind of hear the crowd, he throws a strike, they’re cheering, it’s kind of become — it’s kind of tough, but you try to lock it in.
“And I’ll be honest, once I got to two strikes I was like, ‘Just don’t strike out.’ So you just try to kind of go to your approach, try to put the bat on the ball.”
Gomes’s five hits on the night left him with a .288/.321/.500 line on the year, with three doubles, a triple, and four home runs in 23 games and 84 PAs.
Is the offensive production from the Nationals’ No. 1 catcher underappreciated? Does he get enough credit for what he offers in the batter’s box?
“No,” Martinez said.
“And we knew that about him. But he’s — like I said, he works hard, man, to do that. The key with him is to get ready early, and use the whole field, not get so pull-happy. And he’s had some great at bats so far this year.”
“Just one of those days,” Gomes said after setting a new career high for hits in a game.
“Seeing the ball well, got to work with [Hitting Coach Kevin Long] a little bit before the game.
“Trying to work on things that were making me having good at bats early on in the year, just trying to get back to what I was doing well, and it’s one of those things where you work and the results come in, those are nice.”
Gomes, in his third year in D.C. following a November 2018 trade from Cleveland, is getting more time behind the plate, hitting well at it, and looking increasingly comfortable with his role on the Nationals’ roster. He looked comfortable with a bat in his hands throughout the series opener in Arizona.
“Yeah, I was just not trying to do too much,” he said. “I know I can get in trouble trying to guess pitches and stuff and trying to think ahead, but it’s just really trying to simplify the game, get the foot down, see the ball, hit the ball.
“Pretty much it’s what K-Long and [Assistant Hitting Coach] Pat Roessler kind of preach, it’s just trying to simplify the game.”
Have the regular at bats he’s been getting, after splitting time in the lineup with Kurt Suzuki in the his first two season with the Nationals, been beneficial for Gomes?
“I think he’s swinging the bat really well, hopefully it continues,” Martinez said.
“But you know, he plays a tough position, and like I told him, he’s going to get the bulk of the games this year, but we definitely have to keep Alex [Avila] fresh as well.
“But [Gomes] is playing really well right now.”
And how has Gomes handled the workload as the No. 1 catcher in the nation’s capital?
“So far he’s been great,” the skipper said, “and we’ve had conversations about him playing, and I remember he played like six days in a row, and he came to my office and he kind of looked at me and jokingly said, ‘What are you trying to do, kill me?’ And I said, ‘What? I told you you were going to play.’ And he started laughing. I said, ‘How do you feel?’
“And he said, ‘Great.’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s good, that’s good to know, because you’re not playing tomorrow.’
“But, hey, I told him, and he knew from the get-go that he was going to play. And I want him to play, and it seems like, from doing the research, that his at bats, when he gets consistent at bats, he can put up good numbers. He’s shown that.
“We want to get him out there as much as possible, but yet, we want to keep him healthy throughout the whole year.”