Some of these games lately seem fictional like watching “The Natural”. When Mark Reynolds was called up, we knew about his prodigious power — but who expected him to jack two home runs in his first game and win the game for the Nationals? Reynolds did his best Roy Hobbs imitation without the exploding light tower or lightening in the background. Has there ever been a more impressive debut game in Nationals history? Stephen Strasburg still owns that honor but Reynolds takes it for position players. For just yesterday, FanGraphs scored Reynolds’ debut as worth a +0.3 WAR.
This game was seemingly in-hand and Brandon Kintzler just didn’t have his best stuff tonight and blew it in the 7th inning and gave up the 3-run lead. Then in the top of the next inning Reynolds hit the game-winning 2-run bomb to centerfield against the pitcher, Archie Bradley, that the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew was describing as the Diamondbacks MVP so far this season. Yes, odd they would say that given that Bradley’s teammate, A.J. Pollock, has looked like the NL MVP.
“They are obviously a really good team,” Trea Turner said. “To win 4 really close ballgames against them is a tough thing to do. It’s great for us to come out on top and get this thing rolling.”
The Nationals swept the Diamondbacks in this four-game series and no Nats’ starter gave up more than 1-run including Jeremy Hellickson who pitched 5.0 full innings. Manager Dave Martinez saw this movie 2 weeks ago when he allowed Hellickson to pitch into the 6th inning and was torched by David Peralta so Sammy Solis was called upon to get Peralta and Descalso in his MLB-leading 23rd appearance, and between Solis and Trevor Gott they did the job in the 6th inning.
Another key move by Dave Martinez was inserting Andrew Stevenson for defense and that paid off when a Diamondbacks pinch-hitter named Murphy smashed a rope to the leftfield wall that had a 92% StatCast™ hit probability which Stevenson ran down in the 9th inning with a runner on-base. If Stevenson does not catch that, the runner on-base scores and possibly a triple for Murphy with just one out.
“Instincts take over in that situation,” Stevenson said. “Your body kinds of takes over and you try to make the play. [Defense] is a big part of my game, and I’m going to take pride in it.”
The Nationals offense scored 6 runs on this evening and Trea Turner and Bryce Harper added home runs, and Howie Kendrick plated the only other run that wasn’t from a home run. Turner once again set the table and got on-base 3 times which would have been 4 times if not for a reversal of an infield hit on video replay. It was the 5th time this season that Trea has had at least 2-walks in a game. He raised his OPS to a very nice .811 while also stealing his 13th base on the season. Howie Kendrick had 2-hits, Matt Adams and Pedro Severino had the other hits in the game. Did we mention Mark Reynolds had a single to go with this two home runs?
“The first at-bat — I was a little nervous,” Mark Reynolds said getting a single in his first at-bat. “New team. Trying to make a good impression. Got the first hit out of the way, and then I kind of settled down and was able to relax and play the game I’ve been playing for a long time.”
“New team” loved Reynolds game-winning home run. Just watch the excitement from Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper in the video below:
The “Sky Chiefs” did it again. There were only three regular starters in the starting lineup plus a whole lot of key players who were keys to this game and started their season with the Chiefs like Hellickson, Severino, Mark Reynolds, and Stevenson.
Opposite manager Dave Martinez‘s dugout stood the reigning NL Manager of the Year Torey Lovullo who had some choices to make like walking Mark Reynolds with one-out and Howie Kendrick standing on 2nd base and 1st base open with the offensively struggling Michael Taylor on-deck. All series it seemed that Lovullo failed to employ strategy or reshuffle his line-up that featured the .210 hitting Goldschmidt in the 3rd spot in his line-up going 1-for-15 in this series. Martinez made almost every right move in this series for his Nationals team.
“I keep saying these guys play with a lot of heart, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Dave Martinez said. “They are really starting to click, and I love coming to the ballpark and watching them play.”
When you’re going right, you’re going right. The Nats got it done and moved to a season’s best 6-games over .500 with this hot streak winning 13-of-their-last-15 games and 6-and-1 on this road trip. The Washington Nationals now have a well deserved day-off for Monday before they face the Yankees for a 2-game series in Nationals Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.