The Nats had their first lead of the season, their first blown save, their first walk-off, their first one-run win, and their first win of the season. It was a day of firsts including the first game pitched by the newly acquired lefty Patrick Corbin who pitched great, but the bullpen melted down and gave up the lead only to be saved by the offensive heroics of Trea Turner who was responsible for knocking in 4-runs and scoring 3-runs. One of his runs was set-up by his speed game when he stole 2nd base and scored on an Anthony Rendon RISP single.
Trea Turner is the early season Nats MVP. 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, 3 runs scored, and 1 SB. pic.twitter.com/FQrYsDN2ME
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) March 31, 2019
Baseball is a game that will rip your heart out, and sometimes it’s a game that will reward those who keep grinding. The Nats never gave up in this game after they had a 3-run lead that evaporated quickly, but they held it at a tie, and Trea Turner added his second home run of the game to walk this one off. Manager Dave Martinez said Turner considered bunting in that 9th inning spot on his own. Luckily he did not.
“Honestly, I didn’t watch [the walk-off home run],” manager Dave Martinez said. “I said, ‘I’m not going to watch it’. When the ball goes over the wall I will celebrate it. That’s how it went down.”
It would have been devastating going into the day-off tomorrow with a 0-3 record after blowing a 3-run lead in the 8th inning, but the Nationals do not have to worry about that because they enter the day-off on a winning note. Patrick Corbin pitched very well going 6 innings while giving up 2-runs and exiting with a 5-2 lead. The bullpen for the second game in a row had a bullpen meltdown. Tony Sipp gave up 2-runs, Trevor Rosenthal pitched just 1 pitch and gave up a hit that later turned into another run when Sean Doolittle allowed 2 inherited runners to score. Doolittle at least kept the game tied to get it to the bottom of the 9th inning when Turner hit the walk-off home run.
“The Mets did their job by putting balls in play. We made some pretty good pitches, and they just kept getting their hits,” manager Dave Martinez said.
Within Turner’s big day, he also turned a defensive gem on a doubleplay with Brian Dozier who started the front-end of the DP with one of the nicest turns in Nationals history. The defense was excellent all game, but balls hit by the Mets just seemed to find creases to fall in for hits today on a day that many pitches were executed well.
The only home runs of the game were off of Turner’s bat as the wind was blowing in briskly down Half Street into Nationals Park. In fact, Turner’s first home run was a 440 foot shot that cut through the wind that put the Nats up 3-1 early in the game. The walk-off home run was a low line drive missile measured at 380 feet into the third row in leftfield. This is also the second walk-off home run of Trea Turner‘s young career with his first walk-off home run on September 9 of 2016 off of the Phillies.
The Nationals offense mostly was generated by Victor Robles in the 9-hole (2-4), Adam Eaton in the lead-off (3-5), Turner in the 2-hole (2-5) and Rendon in the 3-hole (2-3, BB). Those four players combined for nine of the Nats eleven hits in the game. With that type of production you would think the Nats scored more than 6-runs, but Juan Soto went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts stranding 4 runners. On this day, the offense picked-up the bullpen. That was not lost on Sean Doolittle.
“When your teammates bail you out, that’s the chemistry that we talked about,” Doolittle said. “That’s playing team baseball for the whole entire game.”
The good news is the shortcomings did not matter in this one when teammates pick each other up.
“Home runs are always nice, but a walk-off home run to put your team on top is very nice, too,” Turner said. “Especially in your home stadium with the fans going crazy.”
When Turner was asked to do a postgame interview on the field, Yan Gomes and Soto carried a Gatorade bucket out to douse Turner on this chilly day. In warmer temperatures, you welcome the cool-off but on a 50°F day with a wind-chill pushing the feel to 40°F it is like bathing in the cold tub. Turner used his quickness to dart out of the way of the oncoming bucket of Gatorade, but the crafty Gomes grabbed another bucket from the visitor’s dugout and circled back around and got Trea on a surprise attack. It was that type of perfect ending to the day — a surprise attack for the win.