Cruz’s Start; Cruz’s First:
You’re not going to (or you probably shouldn’t) judge a 41-year-old, 18-year veteran on what he does in Spring Training (5 for 35, .143 AVG, double, 2 HRs), or in the first few games of a season, but Nelson Cruz did go 1 for 12 in the first three regular season games with his new team, with a 100% ground ball% (according to Fangraphs), and that’s a thing that people are going to notice. So, of course, Davey Martinez was asked if the DH in D.C.’s timing is off early in his first season in the nation’s capital after signing a 1-year/$15M free agent deal with the club this spring.
“I still think it’s a timing thing,” Martinez said on Saturday.
“I think he’s got to get back a little earlier and give himself a little more time, but he’s done this for many, many years, so really I’m not worried about him. He’s going to hit, it’s just a matter of him — as you can tell, I’ve never seen him chase so much, and he’s chasing a little bit more than I normally saw him, and that’s, to me, your set-up is just a little bit late.”
Cruz’s timing was on in his first plate appearance against Mets’ righty Carlos Carrasco in the series finale today, and the veteran DH connected for his second hit of the season, and first homer, which was his 450th career home run, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead early.
Cruz also came up with the game-winning hit, sending a bases-loaded single to center with two out (and two strikes) driving in two runs to put the Nationals on top, 4-2 in the eighth...
Erick Fedde, 29, experienced some tightness in his right side late in Spring Training, but an MRI came back “pretty clean” and the 2014 1st Round pick returned to action in time to get ready for the start of the regular season and took the mound for the first time today against the Mets, coming out of the chute with two scoreless on 20 pitches as the Nationals took a 1-0 lead early in the series finale.
Fedde retired the first six batters he faced before Mark Cahna singled to left to lead off the third, and Jeff McNeil blooped one over short in the at-bat that followed to put two on with no one out as the Mets tried to tie things up, but a swinging K on a 1-2 curve to Tomás Nido and an unassisted double play on a Brandon Nimmo line drive to first got the starter out of an early jam.
Francisco Lindor got all of a hanging 0-1 curve from Fedde in the first at-bat of the fourth, however, hitting a homer into the right field bullpen to tie things up at 1-1.
Fedde picked up back-to-back Ks after the homer, but a two-out rally which saw Eduardo Escobar double, move up on a walk to Dom Smith, and score on a line drive to right field Juan Soto dove for but couldn’t catch, gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Mark Cahna hit the liner on a 2-2 curve from Fedde, who lost the lead and threw 34 pitches in the inning, pushing him up to 73 pitches total.
Fedde returned to the mound in the fifth, and worked around a walk for a scoreless frame in his final inning of work...
Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 87 P, 54 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
Carrasco vs the Nationals:
Mets’ starter Carlos Carrasco gave up the Nelson Cruz home run early, then a single by Josh Bell in the next at-bat, but after that, the right-hander retired 10-straight Nationals hitters to get through four innings on 57 pitches overall, with a 2-1 lead after the club scored two in a top of the fourth inning rally.
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Carrasco at 66 pitches total, with 13-straight set down, and the 2-1 lead intact.
Carrasco came back out for the sixth and added two outs, for 15-straight to end his outing, with Mets’ skipper Buck Showalter going to the bullpen with Juan Soto due up...
Carlos Carrasco’s Line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 72 P, 50 S, 5/7 GO/FO.
Steve Cishek was the first reliever out of the pen for the Nationals, coming on in the sixth and working around a two-out walk in a scoreless, 19-pitch frame.
Chasen Shreve took over for the Mets with two outs, the bases empty, and Juan Soto at the plate in the home-half of the sixth, and he got an inning-ending groundout out of the Nats’ slugger.
Cishek returned to the mound in the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk and a single, but Sean Doolittle took over on the mound and struck out Brandon Nimmo and Robinson Cano around a fly to center by Francisco Lindor to strand the inherited runners and keep it a one-run game in the Mets’ favor, 2-1.
Shreve came back out in the bottom of the seventh and worked around a walk to Josh Bell, with help from Bell, who was thrown out trying to steal his first base since 2018, in his first attempt since 2019, which — there must have been a missed sign or something, right? Still 2-1 Mets after seven.
Kyle Finnegan took a comebacker off his leg, but stayed on the mound and retired the Mets in order in a 9-pitch top of the eighth.
Shreve returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth, and Yadiel Hernández lined a hit to right field to start the frame, and end the Mets’ lefty’s outing.
Trevor Williams came on for NY, and the right-hander gave up a single to center by Maikel Franco that sent pinch runner Dee Strange-Gordon around to third base.
Lucius Fox came up next, and got a safety squeeze bunt down that scored Strange-Gordon, tying it up at 2-2.
Victor Robles popped up to the mound trying (it looked) to bunt for a base hit in a sac bunt situation, but a throwing error by Pete Alonso on a grounder to first off César Hernández’s bat loaded the bases. Juan Soto was first-pitch swinging against Williams in the next at-bat, but grounded into a force at home for the second out of the inning. Nelson Cruz? With the bases loaded? Single to center. Cruz drove in two runs to put the Nats up, 4-2, with his 2nd hit of the game (2 for 4, 3 RBIs).
Tanner Rainey came on for the save situation, and the hard-throwing righty worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless frame, and the save. Ballgame.
Nationals’ win first of 2022, 4-2 final in D.C. Off to Atlanta for three starting tomorrow night.
Nationals now 1-3