WASHINGTON — After Sunday’s shutout loss, Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez advised his team to take their bats home and scream at them.
The bats listened.
Scoring only eight runs over their previous three games, the Nationals (30-22) broke out of their two-game offensive funk by defeating the Miami Marlins (25-29) 7-3 Monday afternoon. Entering Monday’s contest, Washington had only scored in one of their previous 25 innings. The Nats, fueled by the home run ball, hit four longballs and scored seven runs in the first six innings on Monday.
Juan Soto hit a wall scraping two-run homer in the third and totaled three RBIs on the day, adding to his league-leading 45. Starling Castro and Victor Robles followed suit with no doubt solo-bombs two innings later; and to cap off the seven-run day, Adam Eaton went deep in the sixth with a solo shot of his own.
Totaling just 10 hits over the past two days, the Nationals piled up 13 of them including a multi-hit day from Eaton, who sits in second place in the National League with 66, Castro and Soto. Robles, Yan Gomes, Trea Turner, Howie Kendrick and Stephen Strasburg contributed to the effort with a hit of their own.
Washington roughed up Miami starter Caleb Smith, who left the game after throwing just 3 ⅓ innings and totaling only 71 pitches. Smith was tagged with the loss — his second on the year— seven hits, four runs, a homer and two walks.
Jose Ureña relieved Smith in the fourth, and entered the game with a career-best 2.82 ERA in 35 innings. Ureña left the game with a 3.41 ERA two innings later after giving up three runs on three hits — all home runs — and a walk.
Strasburg, who recorded one of the aforementioned hits, started the game for Washington and allowed three runs, five hits and two walks in his six innings of work on the mound. The 31-year-old struck out 10, including eight in the first three innings.
In order to record the strikeouts, Strasburg endured struggles of his own. Only 12 of the 25 batters Strasburg faced, received first pitch strikes, as he fell behind early in the count 13 times.
The Marlins tagged Strasburg for a run in each of the first, third and fourth innings.
In the first, left fielder Corey Dickerson looped the fly ball into shallow left field that brought home center fielder Johathan Villar, who singled in the first to extend his hitting to 12 games.
Soto drove in the first of his three runs with a single down the right field line when Eaton came around from second to score in the bottom of the first to tie the game at one.
With the game still tied in the third, Villar blasted a 403-foot solo homerun over the right field scoreboard to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead.
That would be the last time the Marlins led as the Nationals took the lead back in the bottom of the third when Soto blasted his two run homer to put the Nats on top 3-2.
The Marlins had more than enough chances to cut into Washington’s lead in the fourth when they loaded the bases with no outs. Trailing 3-2, outfielder Jon Berti, the eighth hitter in the lineup, hit a sacrifice fly that brought third baseman Brian Anderson home to tie the game.
With runners on the corners and with only one out, the inning looked bleak for Strasburg and the Nationals. With the pitcher up at the plate, Strasburg forced Smith to hit a soft ground ball back to him and flipped to the shortstop, Turner, who was covering second for the second out and Turner threw to first baseman Ryan Zimmerman for the third out of the inning as the game remained tied at three.
As quickly as Washington lost the lead, they took it back, and kept it for the rest of the way. With the bases loaded and one out, Eaton hit a soft ground ball to Anderson at third. Anderson quickly scooped and fired the ball to second to nab a slow Howie Kendrick. Eaton, sits in the top-20 in the NL in steals, busted it out of the box and beat the throw to first giving the Nationals a 4-3 lead.
Later in the game, the Nats added three solo shots to extend the team’s lead to four.
Ryne Harper, who pitched the seventh, gave up a two-out triple to Villar, who finished a triple shy of the cycle. Meanwhile, Daniel Hudson, who pitched the last two innings and closed out the game, was perfect in relief, striking out three on 21 pitches.
“I guess my advice worked,” Martinex said. “Maybe I’ll tell the boys to yell at their bats more. It certainly worked.”
*Disclaimer: This series is a simulated version of the 2020 Washington Nationals season on MLB The Show. This is for fun and not to be taken seriously. Player and manager quotes are fake.