While starter Austin Voth did not have it tonight, his offense, defense and bullpen picked him up for a come-from-behind 8-5 win in Atlanta. The Nats had a 6-hit inning in the 5th to go-ahead and not look back with help from Victor Robles home run robbery to pullback a 2-run home run that was over the fence. Also, the bullpen threw a 5.0 inning shutout including a save for Daniel Hudson on a night after he had a blown-save-loss yesterday. Huddy threw 3-days in a row and 60 high octane pitches in that span.
The Nats offense had 17 hits on the night plus four walks, and eight hits in RISP situations to get those 8 runs on a night when they did not have a home run. Every Nats batter had at least one hit in this game and every Nats player raised his batting average except for one, and Luis Garcia, the 20 year old rookie, was 3-4 in the game.
One of the top performances was from rookie Kyle Finnegan who entered with runners on the corners and one out and he struck-out Travis d’Arnaud for the second out and then got the third out to strand both runners that he inherited.
“You see the way the game’s playing out, and you try to pick spots where you think guys are going to fit and get big outs,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Games that are close like that — you put guys in situations where you think they’re going to succeed. Those guys did really well, and I’m proud of all those guys.”
Before the game we wrote that Voth had not lasted more than five innings in a game this season, and the back of the bullpen had been taxed. This was almost inevitable. There had been that disconnect with past Nats managers of NOT putting guys “in situations where you think they’re going to succeed.” There was questionable use of Seth Romero for his first MLB appearance of his career for instance, but Davey’s World Series win bought him a lot of currency when it comes to questioning some of his decisions. Martinez could have left Finnegan in the game to close it out, but chose to go back to Hudson and the hope is the recent wear and tear on his arm was worth it.
“He’s our closer, and I told him that yesterday,” Martinez said to the dismay of many who cringe when a manager labels the closer. “I told him I was going to get him back out there as soon as you get a save opportunity, and it was tonight.”
The Nats skipper went to Hudson for his third game in a row, and Huddy got the job done — although he threw a lot in that three game span, he will get the day-off on Wednesday and Thursday is a team day-off.
“We wanted to stay away from Rainey today, so we did that and it was good,” Martinez said.
Every bullpen arm was used in this game except for Tanner Rainey, the workhorse, who we joked about had a day-off note from his mom, and Ryne Harper was saved just in case. It was Harper who was the last man in the ‘pen because you need a pitcher if the game went to extra innings. Seth Romero got the task of facing Freddie Freeman who homered earlier in the game off of Voth. Romero got the All-Star to fly out for a nice two-out performance. Dakota Bacus replaced Romero and that rookie just needed one-pitch to retire d’Arnaud. In the 7th inning, Will Harris bent but did not break after giving up two hits. Javy Guerra did not have his best stuff, and Martinez hooked him with runners at the corners to go to Finnegan who was the fireman of the game which led to the save by Hudson. Of course Wander Suero was saved by the defense of Robles.
The defense came through in the biggest moment in the game when Robles robbed the home run.
“Awesome catch,” Martinez said. “Game saver right there. Really was. He went back and found the wall. He did everything right. Got the glove up and robbed a home run. Victor can do that type of stuff. It was awesome. Great play.”
Hulking sophomore player, Austin Riley, was the player who Robles robbed. The blast off of Riley’s bat was 103 mph exit velocity with a 28-degree launch angle, and that had a hit expectancy of a .910 batting average.
“Right now, I would put that play at the very top of my list, mainly because I helped the team save two runs,” Robles said.
The armed robbery by Robles was “complete instinct” as he described it after the game. The 2019 Gold Glove finalist works in the pregame with Nats coach Bob Henley to get acclimated with the outfield walls at the visitor’s stadiums.
I wrote in the offseason that Victor Robles is a Gold Glove CF and just needed to improve at the wall and he worked on it and shows that he can go #Spiderman! Defensive Runs Saved = 2 @gorepublik https://t.co/hRwhkCz9zW
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) August 19, 2020
The hard work that Robles has put in has paid-off. He almost had some home run thievery at Nats Park until ex-teammate Emilio Bonifacio collided with Robles and jarred his glove and the ball loose as the glove with the ball in it fell over the wall for a home run.
Even though Robles did not win the Gold Glove in his rookie year last year, he continues to show improvement over last year when he led all outfielders with 22 outs above average and ranked second with 348 putouts. The mark of the greatest defensive centerfielders like Ken Griffey Jr., Torii Hunter and Lorenzo Cain is that ability to take on the walls which was the last piece for Robles to conquer. He gets an A+.
The Nats offense and defense was great, but how's about 7 #Nats relievers combined for 5.0 scoreless innings including rookie Seth Romero who had to pitch to Freddie Freeman, and rookie Kyle Finnegan who inherited runners on the corners and one-out got it done, and Huddy's save! pic.twitter.com/3JjIyH6IDu
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) August 19, 2020