As the Nationals wrote in their pregame notes for yesterday’s game, with three home runs in Friday’s doubleheader with the Phillies, switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell, “... became the first player in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.) to hit three home runs in a doubleheader, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.”
With those three home runs, and another in the series opener with Philadelphia in D.C. on Thursday, Bell was up to seven in the month of June, and 11 overall on the year.
Bell came close to hitting his fifth of the series and 12th on the year late in Saturday’s extra innings loss in Nationals Park, but he hit a 360-foot shot to left-center, where the fence sits 377-ish feet from home.
“I really thought when Josh Bell hit that ball it was a home run,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up a 2-1 loss. “[Catching & Strategy Coach] Henry [Blanco] grabbed me super-hard because he thought it was out too, but the way that wind was blowing was crazy today. But he hit the ball well. We thought it was a home run, and we got excited, and then the ball just died.”
It was a 0-0 game until the seventh, when the Phillies got on the board with a home run by infielder Yairo Muñoz off reliever Erasmo Ramírez, and though Bell’s blast fell short of going out, Lane Thomas hit a game-tying RBI single off Philly lefty Brad Hand to tie things up at 1-1 after Phillies’ starter Aaron Nola held the Nationals off the board through eight.
“We ran into a buzzsaw today,” Martinez said after the game. “I mean, Nola was really good.
“We’ve seen him before when he can be that way, we’ve seen him before when we can get some hits and some runs early on him, but today he mixed all his pitches in really well, our offense couldn’t really get nothing going. We battled. We didn’t chase a whole lot. But he was — he had his good stuff today. Today Nola was on.”
Martinez liked the fight in his club, but they dropped their eighth straight in the end, and a loss today would give the Phillies a rare five-game sweep over the NL East rivals. There are positives to take away from the game, according to the fifth-year skipper.
“I’m seeing good things, believe it or not,” he said. “I’m seeing some good things, so we’ll clean some stuff up, but we’ll start getting better. And I think they’re starting to get a little bit of confidence. I can see it in the dugout, I can see it — they really believe — we’re in the games, they really believe that hey, they can play with these guys, and this is our younger players, so that’s good. Lane today, coming off the bench, huge hit. Big hit. So I was happy about that. So we got to keep going. Tomorrow is Father’s Day, so we’ll go out there and battle at 12: and try to win a game.”