The Washington Nationals had their backs up against the wall early with a 9-0 deficit and then Trea Turner hit a solo home run to make the score 9-1. It seemed like an insurmountable score, but then the Nats got the score to 9-6 with bases loaded and Trea Turner cracked a grand slam. He tied an MLB record of 8 RBIs for a lead-off man, and he was the catalyst in this game.
There were 24,314 fans in attendance if they all showed up and stayed after the Nats surrendered 9 runs and it looked bleak, but the believers were rewarded with an historic game as it was the largest comeback in Nationals history to comeback from a 9-run deficit.
“No leads too big, and we continue to have good at-bats throughout the game,” Trea Turner said. “We have to win every game we possibly can no matter how the game starts out whether you’re up 9-0 or down 9-0 we have to keep going — keep pushing forward. Matt Adams said during the game keep your foot on the pedal and that’s what we gotta do.”
Luckily the Nationals added some insurance runs to make the score 14-9 because they would need it as the Marlins clawed back to a 14-12 score in the 8th inning. Sean Doolittle closed the door on the save, and this becomes the win that could be the start of something big. It did end a 5-game losing streak.
“When Trea hit the home run it uplifted them,” manager Dave Martinez said.
The dugout looked tense early, but they started to loosen up as the Nats were scoring runs then they exploded in celebration when Trea Turner’s grand slam home run cleared the wall in the visitor’s bullpen. It isn’t how far you hit it rather how well you hit it. Turner smashed his second home run of the night on a 1-2 pitch with 2-outs.
There were many other stars in this game like Matt Adams who had 4-hits in his return from the disabled list after recovering from a broken bone in his index finger which was sustained on strange play when he square around to bunt and the ball contacted his index finger on his left-hand on June 15th. For an injury that could have taken 6-weeks to heal he returned in less than 3-weeks, and there was an immediate impact from his return to a line-up that desperately missed him as the injury occurred in a game when the Nats record was 38-28.
“It felt good to get back in this line-up and help this team,” Matt Adams said. “Before that [rehab] game in Harrisburg, I got 5 or 6 live AB’s here, and 3 [at-bats] down in Harrisburg. It was a short stint.”
The rookie Juan Soto cracked a 2-run double along with another hit and a walk while tallying 3 RBIs. Michael Taylor had 2 hits and scored 3 runs. Dave Martinez used up all of his 5-man bench, and what a night they had. 4-of-the-5 came through with the exception of Difo who struck-out with bases loaded, but Adam Eaton, Mark Reynolds, and Brian Goodwin all worked walks and Spencer Kieboom cracked an RBI double. It makes these types of wins a signature “team” win. If Doolittle does not earn his 22nd save, there is no telling what the Nats can do as the only arms that were not used out of the bullpen were Ryan Madson and Matt Grace who was not available after throwing 65 combined pitches the prior two days.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched better than his statline. He was tagged with 8 earned runs but we all knew he was sick. He wasn’t helped by his defense as Murphy and Rendon did not make routine plays and Murphy couldn’t handle a tough play, and a poor throw from Taylor to home plated another run. With solid defense, Hellickson easily could have pitched his 3 innings with no earned runs. Jefry Rodriguez, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle did the job for the bullpen.
“We talked to [Jeremy Hellickson] after the second inning, and he said he felt fine,” Martinez said.
Clearly, Hellickson wasn’t effective with runners on base, but you have to make defensive plays for a pitcher who is a pitch-to-contact pitcher. Daniel Murphy had two balls he did not field and those 2 grounders are the type of plays that Difo gets to most likely. If both those plays are made, Hellickson’s line looks much different.
“Very good comeback,” Martinez said. “The boys didn’t give up.”
Many in the gallery were second guessing manager Dave Martinez. Maybe he knew he had 3 innings with Jeremy Hellickson in what looked like mop-up work. Maybe pulling JRod for a pinch-hitter with bases loaded and Adam Eaton walked to score a run. Trea Turner then hit an oppo hard grounder that somehow was snagged, but it at least scored a run as Trea beat out an chance of the Marlins turning a doubleplay.
“The boys didn’t give up,” Dave Martinez said. “They’ve been playing well and just not getting the big hits, and it was nice tonight it was nice seeing those guys come through. Trea had an unbelievable day. To me he’s an All-Star, and I hope he makes it.”
The All-Star players will be revealed on Sunday, and Trea Turner leads all NL shortstops in Fangraphs WAR.