Stephen Strasburg tossed 5 1⁄3 scoreless in his return to the mound. Josh Bell had a three-hit game and made a run-saving play on a relay throw to the plate. Davey Martinez’s crew beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 last night, and after the game, all three of the Nationals we mentioned above talked about playing in front of a larger crowd than they’ve played to in the first 19 home games this season.
“It’s huge,” Bell said after the win in front of an announced crowd of 14,369 fans. “It’s all about adrenaline in this game. We talked about it, how tough it was last year to really get going, to really feel like your blood was boiling at certain points, really, really focus, and that’s what the fans brought for us tonight. They allow us to reach that higher level of focus in-between the lines. Hopefully more to come, I know we’re opening up more and more as the weeks go on, so I can’t wait to see a packed house here.”
The Nationals were granted a waiver to expand seating to 36% effective May 14 by the D.C. government, and they’re building towards returning to full capacity by June 11th.
The club definitely noticed the difference of a larger crowd.
“I think not having it for so long you kind of take it for granted,” Strasburg said after he got back on the mound in the majors for the first time in over a month. “And you really rely on that. You really rely on that to — you get the fans into the game and it gives you that extra boost. It’s just — the atmosphere changes so much, and I think we really appreciate it as players. Obviously last year and early on this year I’m sure a lot more fans wanted to be here, but the powers that be said they couldn’t, so, we’re just happy that they’re here now.”
“It looked like a lot more people were out there,” Martinez said. “The players commented on it, they were excited about it. Seeing that upper deck with fans, it was awesome. It was a great atmosphere, and like I said, hopefully it will continue to open up for us, and we can get more fans in. But what a great night, fans come back and we played well and we get a curly-W.”
Hear that, 27th man? The Nationals missed you, and you helped them beat the Orioles last night. Congrats. You won’t be listed in the lineup below, but you make a difference.