Juan Walk Soto:
Juan Soto’s .465 OBP last season led all MLB hitters, and, as the Nationals mentioned in the pregame notes for tonight’s game, it was highest on-base percentage, “... posted in a full season since 2008 (HOF Chipper Jones, .470),” and Washington’s 23-year-old slugger was the, “only qualified player with more walks than Ks on the season,” with 145 free passes vs. just 93 strikeouts in his 645 plate appearances on the year.
Soto’s walk total was also the highest, “... in a full season since Barry Bonds set the Major League record for walks in a season with 232 in 2004.”
Soto took two walks in the four-game, season-opening series with the New York Mets this past weekend, striking out twice in 16 PAs, and he walked the first time up in Atlanta too, taking his third free pass of the season, after he had 18 walks (vs. 12 Ks) against the Braves last season, finishing the year with a .565 OBP in 18 games and 62 PAs vs. the eventual ‘21 World Series champs.
Soto, and César Hernández, who singled to start game, were both stranded three outs later, however, as ATL starter Huascar Ynoa retired the next three batters he faced for a scoreless first.
Soto walked again in his second trip to the plate, leading off the third, and he took third base on a single to right by Nelson Cruz, who went the other way with a first-pitch slider outside to send his teammate corner-to-corner. Josh Bell stepped in in another RBI spot, and singled through the right side, tying it up at 1-1 in the third...
When the Nationals made their final roster decisions, as Spring Training wound down, lefty Josh Rogers was optioned to Triple-A, with Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez telling reporters it was a decision made with starting depth in mind.
“We want to make sure that if something does happen to one of our starters, that we have viable options. He’s definitely one of them, if not the first one,” Martinez said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato.
And Rogers was, in fact, the first starter called up when Aníbal Sánchez came off the flight from West Palm Beach to D.C. with a stiff neck which was diagnosed as a, “cervical nerve impingement,” by the team, as they announced when they placed Sánchez on the 10-Day IL and called Rogers back up to start against the Braves.
Rogers gave up a leadoff double to right by Ozzie Albies in the first at-bat of the bottom of the first tonight, and two outs later Albies scored from third on an RBI single to center that got through the infield off of Marcell Ozuna’s bat, 1-0.
It was 5-1 in the Nationals’ favor (see below) when Rogers took the mound in the third, and the southpaw retired the side in order in a 9-pitch frame.
Josh Rogers, Filthy 84mph Back Foot Slider. pic.twitter.com/omk22ASQ1R— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 12, 2022
Another 9-pitch, 1-2-3 frame in the fourth got Rogers up to 10-straight Braves’ hitters set down after four strong.
Rogers’ streak of retired batters ended with a leadoff walk to Eddie Rosario in the first at-bat of the Braves’ fifth, but the lefty retired the next three batters in order in an 22-pitch bottom of the inning which left him at 68 pitches total after five.
He came back out for the sixth, but a one-out walk, on his 74th pitch, ended his outing...
Josh Rogers’ Line: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 74 P, 46 S, 4/5 GO/FO.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the third, Juan Soto walked to start the frame, took third on a hit by Nelson Cruz, and scored on an RBI single by Josh Bell. A wild pitch moved both runners up a base, but Cruz was thrown out at home on a grounder back to the mound off of Yadiel Hernández’s bat for the second out of the inning, leaving it up to Lane Thomas, who went 0 for 7 with a walk in the opening series, and was 0 for 1 tonight before he lined a 2-out, 2-run double to left-center field, 3-1 Nats.
Maikel Franco stepped in next and hit a hanging slider from Huascar Ynoa out to left field, 5-1. Franco’s 1st HR of 2022.
Spenser Strider came on for Atlanta in the fourth and gave up a one-out single by Juan Soto (91 MPH off the bat on a 101 MPH fastball) and a walk to Nelson Cruz, putting two runners on for Josh Bell, but Bell K’d chasing a low slider for out No. 2, and Keibert Ruiz lined out to the track in center for out No. 3 of a scoreless frame.
Víctor Arano was the first reliever out of the pen for the Nationals tonight, taking over after a one-out walk to Matt Olson by Nats’ starter Josh Rogers in the sixth, and he retired two in a row to strand the runner he inherited and keep it a 5-1 game in the visitor’s favor.
Strider gave the Braves 3 1⁄3 innings in relief, but he gave up a leadoff walk to Josh Bell and a one-out single by Yadiel Hernández in the top of the seventh before he was yanked, and his replacement, lefty Tucker Davidson, surrendered an RBI single to center by Lane Thomas (2 for 4, 3 RBIs) that put the Nationals up by five, 6-1.
Davidson gave up a double by César Hernández, a walk to Nelson Cruz, and an RBI single by Josh Bell as the Nationals added to their lead in the top of the eighth, 7-1.
Keibert Ruiz singled to left to load the bases after Bell’s RBI hit, and Victor Robles took an 0-2 slider for an RBI HBP and an 8-1 lead, and 11-1 on a double to right by Maikel Franco (4 for 5, 5 RBIs).
Hunter Harvey made his Nationals debut in the bottom of the eighth, with a 10-run cushion, and the hard-throwing righty retired the side in order, picking up a K in a 16-pitch frame.
Patrick Murphy struggled, giving up a run in the ninth, but got out of the inning to end the game, 11-2 final.
Nationals now 2-3