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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats beat Reds in extras; homer-fest in GABP; Luis García move explained...

Notes and quotes from last night’s series opener on the road in Cincinnati...

Corbin vs Cincy:

Patrick Corbin gave up a home run by Nick Senzel on an 0-1 fastball up in the zone the Reds’ outfielder hit 350 ft. to right for a one-out blast in the bottom of the first inning last night in Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati’s second baseman, Matt McLain hit the next pitch, a 91 MPH sinker belt-high and over the middle of the plate, 422 ft. to center field, 2-0.

Elly De La Cruz made it 3-0 with a 398-foot solo home run to left in the third, crushing a 3-1 slider (113 MPH exit velo) up in the zone and over the middle of the plate.

But then the Nationals got on the board with Lane Thomas hitting an 0-1 slider from starter Graham Ashcraft 434 ft. to left-center in the top of the sixth, 3-1, then singling with two out in the eighth, keeping the inning alive for Joey Meneses, who hit a 2-2 slider 406 ft. to left-center to tie things up at 3-3 before Washington won it in extras.

Jake Alu doubled to drive in the free runner in the top of the 10th, then Thomas hit a second home run, a two-run shot, which traveled 389 ft. to left-center, 6-3.

“Not the most ideal start,” Corbin said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the Nats’ extra innings win.

“But I felt pretty good. And I think after [the early home runs], I was able to keep the ball down a little bit. They’re an aggressive team, and I got some ground balls, the defense played behind me. And we put up enough zeroes to allow the offense to come back, tie it up and then eventually win it in extras.”

Corbin ended up going 6 13 innings, holding the home team off the board after the third, with relievers Amos Willingham, Jordan Weems, Jose A. Ferrer, Andres Machado, and the closer, Kyle Finnegan, combining for 3 23 scoreless innings in the series opener in Cincy.

“Corbin is a veteran,” manager Davey Martinez said of his starter’s effort when he spoke to reporters after the game. “He’s a professional, he understands that he’s just got to stay grounded and keep us in the game, he settled down and did exactly that. He got us 6 23 innings, and then after that I said, ‘That was good.’ Played the matchups, Willingham came in, shut the door down that inning, and like I said, our offense picked it up a little bit and it was a good outcome of the game.”

His young bullpen arms (and a couple vets) coming up big as well pleased the sixth-year skipper.

“These guys, they’re really starting to learn a lot,” Martinez said. “I’m really starting to learn about them, too. Some of them, you put them into situations, and they’ve got no heartbeat.

“They’re just out there and doing everything they can to try to win us games. I love that about this team. They’re relentless. The young guys are playing well. They want the ball. They’re hungry. And it’s really good to see.”

Nats Stats:

Lane Thomas started the series opener in Cincinnati, OH’s Great American Ball Park 14 for 46 (.304/.396/.630) with three doubles, four home runs, seven walks, and 11 Ks in 53 plate appearances in the Reds’ home in his five-year career. Three of the home runs came in one game in GABP last June, and the 27-year-old outfielder had another multi-home run game last night, setting a career-high in home runs in the process, with his second his 18th of the year in 468 PAs, after he hit 17 in 548 PAs last year.

“He likes it here,” Davey Martinez joked in the manager’s post game presser after last night’s 6-3 win in extras. “It’s been a lot of fun watching him swing the bat here. But he’s attacking the baseball again, and getting on fastballs, so it was good to see him come through today.”

BACK PAGE - Luis García to AAA:

How did Luis García respond to the Washington Nationals’ somewhat (but not really, in like, hindsight, right?) surprising decision to send their 23-year-old second baseman down to Triple-A after the series finale with the Brewers in D.C. this past Wednesday?

The move came shortly after manager Davey Martinez spoke to reporters following the 3rd of 3 with Milwaukee, so he didn’t address the decision till the club arrived in Cincinnati last night for the 1st of 3 in GABP. García responded as they thought he would.

“He responded exactly the way I thought he would,” Martinez explained.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

“He was there [with Triple-A Rochester] yesterday,” the manager continued. García went 1 for 5 in the first game back with the Nats’ top affiliate, (and went 1 for 5 again last night).

“He was already in the cage working. He wants to get better. He really does. He wasn’t happy where he was at, either. He tells me all the time he expects to hit .300, expects to drive the ball. I really believe this will help him. And he’s taking it the right way. And like I said, he was down there already yesterday working.”

García was 0 for 12 in four games before he was optioned to Triple-A, and coming off of a .217/.250/.301 month of July in which he hit just two doubles and one home run.

Something needed to change, the Nationals decided.

“Before we start talking about this, I still strongly believe that Luis is a big part of our future, I really do,” Martinez stated firmly last night.

“There’s some consistency stuff that we want him to work on. We want him to do it without having to worry about putting up numbers and [things of] that nature. He does a lot of things well. We think he can get better. So this is really about him and the future of our organization moving forward. I really believe Luis here is going to help us win games, and hopefully he’s here when we get a change to win another championship. He’s 23 years old. I wanted him to go down and work on some things, especially more consistency out of him in his total game: preparation, routine, things of that nature. So he gets a chance to go down there, reset his feet a little bit. As soon as he shows us he can do that, we’ll bring him up. But he’s got a tremendous amount of skill, he really does. He has great bat-to-ball skills, his hands really work defensively. A lot of it, what we want him to get better at is using his lower half both hitting and on the field, so he’s got to work on that stuff while he’s down there.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The thinking behind the move, Martinez reiterated at another point in his pregame press conference, is to give García a pressure-free-(ish) environment in which to work things out.

“We want to slow him down a little bit,” the manager said. “We didn’t want to put pressure on him. Luis takes a lot of pride in his hitting and his playing. I felt like he was trying to put a little bit of pressure about trying to get hits. It’s not always about getting hits. It’s about being prepared, giving yourself a chance to swing the bat and put a good swing on a baseball every day, positioning, things of that nature. So we thought for Luis, this would be the best thing for him right now. And like I said, we really believe he’s going to help us again, but we kind of have to slow him down a little bit and get him back on his feet and start doing the little things.”