Nelson Cruz was a late scratch in the series finale in Miami, and Washington’s skipper Davey Martinez said the 41-year-old, 18-year veteran would get an MRI on his balky lower back, but a day later, the DH in D.C. was back in the lineup and he went 4 for 5 with home run (No. 6) of 2022 in what ended up an 11-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in Nationals Park.
“His back was stiff yesterday,” Martinez said before the series opener in the nation’s capital.
“He called me this morning, I talked to him this morning. He said he feels a lot better, he hit in the cage and said he feels good, so he’s back in there.”
After the win, the manager was properly awed by Cruz’s 24-hour turnaround.
“He knows himself better than anybody else,” Martinez said, “and he told me today he was good. I’m just really grateful that it wasn’t nothing serious, because when you talk about your lower back or your side you think the worst, but he said he felt good today, he took swings and everything, and he was able to play today and you saw what he did, so hopefully he gets some rest tonight, and comes back and does it again tomorrow.”
Lane Thomas, coming off an 11 for 30, three double, three home run road trip, picked up where he left off, going 3 for 5 with three runs scored in last night’s win.
Martinez penciled Thomas in as his leadoff hitter for the second game in a row (and fourth time this season) in the opener with the Brewers, and he came through again with another big game.
His manager said he liked the lineup with Thomas up top, César Hernández batting second, Juan Soto (1 for 4, BB), Cruz, and Josh Bell (2 for 5, 3B, HR) in the middle, and Keibert Ruiz (3 for 5), Maikel Franco (1 for 5, HR), Luis García (2 for 5), and Victor Robles (1 for 3, BB) rounding it out.
“It’s good,” Martinez said. “I kind of like — when Lane is swinging the bat well I kind of like that whole set-up. What really does help is that Luis [García] is in the bottom of that lineup too, so we don’t have all those right-handers in a row, so that’s kind of nice. It plays out good for us. If Lane can get on base, César, he’s been doing a great job leading off, but he also — I know he can hit second too, and those guys can get on base for the 3-4-5-6 hitters we got. And like I said, they had a really good day today. So I’m proud of the boys. Like I said, it was a long night last night, we got in super-late, didn’t get much sleep, so let’s get some sleep tonight and hopefully repeat what we did today.”
Franco’s one hit, his 5th HR of the year, extended a hit streak to ten-straight games. What’s going right for the veteran?
“He’s just getting the ball up and staying on the ball, I mean, he really is,” Martinez said.
“He hit some balls hard today, lined out again today, so that’s good. He’s not trying to do a whole lot, he’s really trying to stay in the middle of the field. I know he works hard with [Assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler, aka] Six and [Hitting coach] Darnell [Coles] on doing that, and getting the ball up. For me, he’s really a high-ball hitter, so he’s got to get the ball up in the zone, and he’s done a great job of it.”
Did Martinez shake anything up after a 19-hit, 11-run game last night? Let’s see...