Whether it’s more about Washington Nationals’ hitters’ patience, or the Miami Marlins’ pitchers’ issues with command is a fair question, but either way, Nationals’ hitters did manage to take five bases-loaded walks between the second and third games of their matchup in Nationals Park.
On Tuesday night in the nation’s capital, Josh Bell, Jordy Mercer, and Lane Thomas all walked with the bases loaded in what ended up an 8-2 win.
Bell’s free pass came after Jesús Luzardo loaded them up with an intentional walk to Juan Soto. Steven Okert took over after the IBB to Soto, and threw three straight balls to Bell after getting up 1-2 on the Nats’ slugger, but Ryan Zimmerman grounded into an inning-ending DP in the next at bat, ending a rally that had produced two runs to put the Nats ahead, 4-1 in the fifth.
Three straight singles off Marlins’ reliever Sean Guenther loaded the bases with Nationals in the eighth, and Mercer, in a pinch hit appearance against a new pitcher, Taylor Williams, put the home team up 5-2 before Thomas too walked to force in a run, 6-2, before a sacrifice fly by Alcides Ecsobar and RBI single by Juan Soto put the Nationals ahead, 8-2.
“I really liked our approach tonight,” fill-in skipper Tim Bogar said, after the Nationals’ bench coach managed the team with Davey Martinez unavailable after a follow-up procedure on his surgically-repaired ankle.
While Bell, Mercer, and Thomas would, obviously, have preferred to drive in more than the one run their walks forced in, they took what they were given and accepted their walks.
“We didn’t expand the zone very much,” Bogar added. “We swung at some really good pitches, obviously we put up a lot of hits tonight. I like the patience, especially in big situations, trying not to do too much.
“Obviously Josh wanted more, but like he said to me, ‘I’m not going to swing at non-competitive pitches,’ and that’s a good thing.”
In Wednesday’s series finale with the Fish, Mercer took a two-out walk from reliever Zack Pop to load the bases in front of catcher Riley Adams, who took the second consecutive walk to force in a run and put the Nationals up 2-0 at that point, but Andrew Stevenson’s swinging K in the next at-bat left three runners on base.
In the seventh inning, Marlins’ reliever Anthony Ross gave up a one-out single by Yadiel Hernández and a two-out walk to Riley Adams before Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error to load the bases in front of Thomas, who took his second bases-loaded walk in two days to force in one run before Alcides Escobar singled to drive in one more, putting the Nationals up 5-3 before Juan Soto grounded out to end the inning in what ended up an 8-6 loss.
While the Nats’ skipper, who was back on the bench for the third of three with the Marlins in D.C., liked the approach at the plate on the bases-loaded walks, the club was just 3 for 16 on the day with runners in scoring position and 14 left on base in a two-run loss.
“Those guys weren’t trying to get too big,” Martinez said. “They’re trying to get a ball in the zone, and they worked good at bats and they were able to get a walk.”
As for the other RBI opportunities throughout the game, however, the fourth-year manager said they didn’t take advantage of all the chances they got.
“Today, we left a lot of guys on base today, I think it was 14. Some of those — we got to get better at driving those runs in, we really do,” Martinez said.
“Some of them we had no outs, man on first and second, no outs second and third, and we couldn’t move the baseball, so we definitely got to get better.”