When you needed Jon Lester to be great, he did it on the mound and in the batter’s box. With 7.0 shutout innings on his pitching line and a home run and single from his batter’s line, Lester did it all in his best performance of the year for the Washington Nationals. If we go by Lester’s “game score” of a 72 rating, this would be his best start since May 1, 2019 when he recorded an 82 against the Mariners.
In all, the game went final at a score of 18-1 as the Nats pounded out six home runs with two by Juan Soto who now as five dingers in four games since he starred in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game exactly a week ago. Per ESPN Stats, Soto is the first player in MLB history to tally five homers with 10 hits in the first four games following an All-Star game. He went 3-for-4 at the plate in this game with those two homers and a double and five ribeyes.
Speaking of home runs, catcher Tres Barrera hit his first home run of his career in this game. He is batting .304 now and credits his work with hitting coach Kevin Long to work on his swing. His work behind the plate has looked good too.
Josh Bell and Trea Turner had the other homers in this game, and Turner had a triple and the homer by the second inning and was looking like he was on his way to another cycle with the two hardest parts out of the way early — but it wasn’t meant to be — this time. Keep in mind, no player in baseball history has four cycles, and Trea is tied with four other players three cycles.
Every Nats batter had a hit in this game except for Andrew Stevenson who went the hard luck 0-fer in this one. In all, the Nats pounded 18 hits in this one with two walks, and only two runners left on-base.
The star of the game weighing in at 37-years-old, Lester, went that 7.0 innings of shutout baseball with no walks and a season-high seven strikeouts on just 81 efficient pitches. He came into this game rested and weary after some of the worst baseball of his career with his previous four games of just 13 1/3 innings and 25 runs surrendered (17 earned) with batters hitting him at .409.
“Sometimes when you struggle, you kind of look for things that aren’t there,” Lester said. “To kind of get away, and just forget about mechanics. Forget about throwing a baseball. Working out. All that stuff. Just kind of get back to neutral. I think that’s always good for us. So that was kind of where I was at. Kind of cleared my mind a little bit. Kind of went back to basics.”
With Lester’s deep outing, manager Dave Martinez only needed to use Wander Suero and Jefry Rodriguez to close this out, giving the rest of the bullpen a much-needed rest.