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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Yan Gomes w/ RISP; Alcides Escobar on that play on Saturday + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability this past weekend...

Yan Gomes w/ RISP This Season:

In 2020’s 60-game campaign, Yan Gomes was just 4 for 26 (.154/.194/.231) with runners in scoring position in 31 plate appearances, but he went into Saturday night’s game with the Los Angeles Dodgers with a .318/.400/.455 line in 50 PAs with RISP on the season, and he added another hit when he homered off Clayton Kershaw in the bottom of the fourth inning of the game.

Gomes hit a 2-2 slider out with two runners on for a three-run blast that tied things up at 3-3 in what ended up a 5-3 loss.

What’s he doing right with runners in scoring position this season?

“He’s — honestly, he’s not trying to do too much,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters in his post game Zoom call on Saturday night/Sunday morning. “He’s just trying to move the baseball and put the ball in play. He smoked that ball tonight, but he’s been working on just — we talk a lot about driving in runs and how to do it, and he’s just really trying to stay in the middle of the field and trying to square the ball up and hit it hard in the middle of the field.”

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the 33-year-old catcher, he got hit with a 98 MPH sinker from Joe Kelly late in the game, taking one off his right arm/elbow, though he stayed in to finish it out.

“He got — he got a nice bruise, I know he’s getting treatment right now, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Martinez said after the game on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, Gomes, who did not start (morning game after an early-morning finish to a rain delayed game), was spotted with a sleeve on his right arm while going through his pregame routine.

“He was really sore,” Martinez said after Sunday’s loss. “He tried to throw a little bit but he was sore throwing.”

Decision-Making on Potential DP:

Alcides Escobar, who was acquired on Saturday afternoon, and started at short for the Nats on Saturday night, when they were once again without Trea Turner (jammed finger), had an opportunity to contribute on the defensive end in the top of the sixth, when reliever Wander Suero hit Dodgers’ catcher Will Smith with one down (in what was a 3-3 game at that point), but got a hard-hit grounder to short out of Albert Pujols in the next at bat.

The ball, which was smoked (105.3 MPH exit velocity), ate up Escobar, who bobbled it, but recovered, and threw to second base trying for the force, but got it to the bag late. Josh Harrison tried for the out over at first, but threw it away, allowing Smith to take third on the play, before he scored on a two-out RBI single by AJ Pollock, 4-3, in what ended up a 5-3 loss for the Nationals.

MLB: JUL 03 Dodgers at Nationals Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“I know what he was thinking,” Davey Martinez said after the game when asked about the new shortstop’s decision-making.

“Pujols is running, so if he can get the ball quick to second, they probably had a shot to get him out at first base.

“That’s what he was thinking. Unfortunately we didn’t get any outs.”

So, was that what Escobar was thinking?

“Before the actual ground ball took place,” Escobar explained, in his own post game Zoom call after the first game of his 12th major league campaign, “I anticipated that if I get the hit I’m going for two, I’m turning two, and the ball was hit very hard, and sharply, so in my head I knew that even if I was able to flip and not get the out at second base, there was enough time to get Pujols out at first if the play was still turned the way it could have, things didn’t result that way, but I had preset in my mind that I was still going to turn two and the ball was hit sharply to me.”

Pinch-Hitting Pitcher:

With two out in the seventh and the Nationals trailing 10-3 on Friday night, Davey Martinez went with Jon Lester as his pinch hitter against Dodgers’ righty Jimmy Nelson. Lester went down swinging, predictably, but he got another pinch hit opportunity on Saturday night in the nation’s capital, this one in a two-out at bat in a 3-3 game in the fifth, after a 1-hour, 44-minute rain delay knocked starter Paolo Espino out. With the injuries the Nationals have to deal with right now, and the short, four-man bench they have this season, Martinez having to use a pitcher in those spots isn’t too surprising, but is it sustainable to keep carrying the players they are on the bench, with the injury issues they currently have?

“Right now it’s — the issue is we have to pinch hit in the 4th or 5th inning, early in the game, so you don’t want to blow your pinch hitter,” Martinez explained late on Saturday night/early on Sunday morning, “... especially when there’s two outs.

“If our starters are good, and like I said, if we score first and take the lead, we don’t have to use these pinch hitters so early. Right now it’s just biting us, but previously we were doing okay with it.”