Lane Thomas Rolling:
With a 2 for 4 game in the series finale in Miami, Lane Thomas wrapped up the Washington Nationals’ road trip to New York, Cincinnati, and South Florida 11 for 30 (.367/.429/.767) in eight games, seven starts, and 35 plate appearances, over which he hit three doubles and three home runs, with four walks, and eight Ks.
“He’s staying on the ball,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He’s not trying to do a whole lot.
“He’s staying on the ball and he’s hitting more strikes, he’s not chasing as much. He’s swinging the bat good. This is the way he was last year and he looks good right now.”
In six games in June, the Nationals noted before last night’s series opener with Milwaukee in D.C., Thomas, “... hit safely in five of the six, with all five being multi-hit efforts,” and the 26-year-old outfielder, hit all three home runs on the trip in one game against the Reds, which was, “... his first career multi-home run game [and] was the seventh three-home run game in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.).”
“He was very aggressive, which we like,” Martinez said after Thomas’s three-home run game against the Reds on June 3rd.
“He’s a fastball hitter,” the manager added. “When he gets the ball in the zone, whether it’s a fastball, sliders, he hits the ball hard, and tonight was a perfect example, he stayed on every ball, and he swung the bat well.”
To add a degree of difficulty, Thomas hit those three home runs off three different pitchers.
“It’s tough to get three different pitchers, and hit the ball like he did,” Martinez said, “but he had a great night.”
Before last night’s game, Martinez talked about the keys in Thomas’s current run at the plate and what’s been working on.
“It’s chasing. We always talk about him chasing, staying in the zone, and honestly swinging when the ball is in the zone,” he explained. “Early on in the season, he was hitting with two strikes a lot, you know, and he said he couldn’t just pull the trigger. Now he’s getting back a little earlier. D.C. [Hitting Coach Darnell Coles] has been working with him on different things. He’s seeing the ball a lot better, and now he’s starting to swing the bat. We want him to take his swings, and he’s a good fastball hitter. He’s a good in-zone hitter, so he’s been doing that, and you can see the results. Two things that — when things are going awry again with him, is one, he’s got to be aggressive in the strike zone, and two, is not chase. So we’re constantly telling him about that.”
Strasburg - The Day After:
“Fastball command could have been better in certain spots there,” Stephen Strasburg told reporters after making his return to the majors on Thursday night. “I felt like the changeup was working pretty well, probably could have gone to that a little bit more often early on.
“And then I think the strike breaking ball was good, the chase one was a little bit too big of a miss, and all in all, it’s a place to start, and going to try to build off it.”
He had a rough start and abrupt end to his 2022 debut, but Strasburg had a nice stretch in the middle of the outing as well, and plenty of positives to build off going forward.
“Like I said yesterday, I’m proud of him,” manager Davey Martinez said once the team was back in the nation’s capital for the start of a three-game series with Milwaukee last night.
“He worked really hard to get back, and forget about the results, he did well. And I talked to him today, and he said he feels good, so that’s good to know. He’ll be back out there in five days, and give it another whirl, but he’s healthy, he feels good, so we’re going to keep him going.”
That’s now eight starts in the last three seasons for Strasburg, who’s dealt with a variety of injury issues over the last few years since helping the Nationals win the World Series in ‘19.
How did he feel a day later?
“Just typical soreness,” Martinez said. “Yesterday after the game he was a bit tired, but I said, ‘Hey, that’s part of it. You’re going to get like that.’ But his stuff was — as we talked about, his stuff was good. His changeup was good when he threw it, and his breaking ball was good. I looked up there a couple times because I thought he was throwing a lot harder than he did. HIs ball had — those last two feet his ball had a little giddy-up on it. So, [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey and I were like, ‘Man, that was a good one.’ And it didn’t seem like it.
“But who knows, maybe that gun was off a tick, so I haven’t looked at the real results yet, but the ball was coming out good.”
Washington’s 3-7 road trip to New York, Cincinnati, and Miami left the Nationals 12-20 away from the nation’s capital this season.
Back home, where they started the three-game set in Nats Park 9-18 on the year, manager Davey Martinez tried to put the tough trip in perspective.
“Hey, we stay positive,” he said. “Stay positive. We’re going home, we’ve got a nice good stretch here at home, so let’s come back today and go 1-0. We had some tough breaks on some of those games, but we’ve just got to keep our heads up and continue to play. That’s all we can do. Like I said before, I watch the games, and I watch these guys play and they play hard — sometimes, as I’ve often said, they try too hard, so we need to just relax and just let it happen.
“We’re playing — it seems like we’re playing a lot behind in games, and we’re trying to play catch-up, and we have moments where it looks like our offense is going to get going, we score a few runs, and then we just can’t get there. So just keep playing hard from the first pitch on to the last pitch. That’s all I can ask from these guys, and they do that. They do that.”
They’re going to have to keep doing it. As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes last night, Martinez’s club is, “... in a stretch of 14 games in 13 days thanks to the scheduled doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 17...Washington just completed a run of 17 games in 17 days (started May 20 at Milwaukee) on Sunday at Cincinnati...May 20 was also the start a run of 31 games in 31 days for Washington (due to the doubleheader).”
“Those guys are good,” Martinez continued. “They’re having fun, they’re content, they want to win, I know that, they put a lot of pressure about winning. So, I told them, ‘Just keep playing baseball, the wins will come.’ And before you know it, we get on a little streak where you win nine out of 12 games or something like that and it will be good for those guys, but keep playing hard.”