Lane Thomas entered Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds with three home runs on the season. He left it with twice as many.
The Nationals’ left fielder hit three long balls in Washington’s 8-5 victory, becoming just the seventh player to have a three-homer game for the club since it moved to D.C. in 2005. The other names on that list are known sluggers: Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Kyle Schwarber.
Now, that list includes Thomas, who finished with four RBIs on the day as well.
“He was very aggressive, which we like,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said in his postgame press conference, as aired on MASN. “He’s a fastball hitter. When he gets the ball in the zone with fastballs/sliders, he hits the ball hard. Tonight is a perfect example.”
Thomas was slumping hard prior to the game, having tallied just one hit in his last 22 at-bats (.046 average). Martinez continued to show confidence in him, however, batting him second in the lineup in front of Juan Soto for four of their last seven games including Friday.
His career platoon splits skewed heavily in favor of facing southpaws and he got the start Friday with Reds left-hander Mike Minor on the bump. After lining out in his first at-bat, Thomas took Minor deep to left on a 1-2 pitch that landed only a few rows up from the wall.
That ball only traveled 349 feet, but the homers got progressively longer from there. Thomas only saw right-handed pitchers the rest of the way. It didn’t matter. He hit his second homer off Vladimir Gutiérrez on a full count in the fifth, this time to the opposite field 383 feet away.
Home run No. 3 came off reliever Jeff Hoffman, who could only watch as Thomas golfed a 95-mph fastball down and in and sent it 396 feet to left. He hit the ball with an exit velocity of 104.8 mph, well above his season average of 87.7 mph.
He had a chance to go for a fourth homer in his fifth at-bat but flew out to center field. With his big day, Thomas raised his slash on the season to .211/.268/.406, leaving plenty of room for improvement the rest of the season.
But after the Nationals acquired him in exchange for two months of a struggling Jon Lester last summer, the production Thomas has provided to this point — including an impressive 45-game stretch to close out the 2021 campaign — has already made that move a win for Washington.