Nationals

Quick Links

Pierzynski's two home runs down the Nationals

roark.png

Pierzynski's two home runs down the Nationals

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After the chaos that accompanied their final homestand of the season, the Nationals opened their final road trip Tuesday night, hoping matters would calm down and focus would return to baseball. It did, but that didn't necessarily translate into winning baseball.

A.J. Pierzynski's two home runs off Tanner Roark proved the difference for the Braves, who didn't get much offense from anybody else but didn't really need it. Right-hander Matt Wisler made sure of that, tossing seven innings of 1-run ball, allowing only Trea Turner's solo homer in the sixth (the rookie infielder's first of his young career).

The Nationals didn't give themselves many opportunities. And those they had, they squandered, most notably a 2-on, 1-out potential rally in the eighth. Bryce Harper stood at the plate with a chance to change the outcome of the game, but the presumptive NL MVP was induced into a 5-4-3 double play by former teammate Edwin Jackson, much to the delight of the sparse gathering at Turner Field that was announced as 15,272 but included fewer than half that many fans actually in attendance.

They had one final shot in the ninth, with two on and nobody out. But Ian Desmond bunted right in front of the plate, getting Jayson Werth thrown out at third, then didn't hustle out of the box and was doubled up in unsightly fashion.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Turner's offensive game is built primarily around contact and speed, but the kid does have some pop in hit bat. (He hit eight homers in 500 minor-league plate appearances this season.) And he showed it in the top of the sixth, pouncing on Matt Wisler's first-pitch fastball and lofting it over the left-field wall at the appropriately named Turner Field. Teammates mobbed Turner in the dugout, while the Braves' Nick Swisher tossed the ball back in for safe keeping. After a sluggish start at the plate, Turner has begun to show the Nats everything he can do. This actually is true to form. He struggled briefly at each level of the minors this year before getting hot. Sure enough, after going 1-for-11 to begin his major-league career, Turner now has six hits in his last 13 at-bats.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Though he departed in line to take the loss, Roark pitched quite well. Certainly better than he has in some time. Perhaps getting used to starting every fifth day again, he looked stronger and was efficient enough to go more than five innings for the first time since rejoining the rotation at the start of the month. Roark really only made two mistakes all night. Unfortunately both came with Pierzynski at the plate, and both wound up over the fence. That makes 17 homers allowed by Roark this season in 105 innings. He only gave up 16 homers in 198 2/3 innings last year.

KEY STAT: Bryce Harper set a new Expos/Nationals franchise record with his 124th walk of the season, breaking the previous mark established by Ken Singleton in 1973.

UP NEXT: Jordan Zimmermann (13-9, 3.68) makes what will likely be the final start of his Nationals career Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. Right-hander Williams Perez (6-6, 5.04) pitches for Atlanta.

RELATED: Zimmerman won't return from oblique strain

Quick Links

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

usatsi_10847206.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

Quick Links

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

screen_shot_2018-05-21_at_7.52.30_pm.png
@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.