The Washington Nationals hope their power surge Friday night was not just a one-game burst as they visit the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday in the third game of a four-game series.
The Nationals beat Cincinnati 8-5 Friday on the strength of five home runs, including three from outfielder Lane Thomas, after being outscored 36-6 in losing the first four games of their 10-game trip.
“A swinging bat is a dangerous bat,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “The only way we’re going to get out of this is by getting good pitches and swinging at good pitches and attacking the strike zone early. That’s what we’re really good at, and when we’re going good, we go up there and we’re ready to hit.”
As for the Reds, they lost Friday for just the third time in nine games but scored three times in the eighth on a Joey Votto homer that brought life to a team playing with much more confidence since opening the season 3-22.
“It’s a lot different than the beginning of the year,” Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “Guys are more comfortable with each other. You can kind of see relationships growing and people getting to know each other better. When teams start winning, teams in the locker room become a lot closer.”
The Reds will send right-hander Tyler Mahle (2-5, 5.53 ERA) to the mound after he flirted with a no-hitter in his last outing. Last Sunday, in a 6-4 loss to San Francisco, Mahle didn’t allow a hit until Thairo Estrada, Mahle’s final batter, doubled with two outs in the seventh inning.
Mahle left with a 2-0 lead but was the victim of a blown save when the Giants scored six runs in the eighth inning, all with two outs. Mahle has three quality starts in his last four starts.
The 27-year-old is 3-1 with a 4.50 in four career starts against the Nationals, including wins in both starts last season.
The Nationals will counter Saturday with right-hander Erick Fedde (3-4, 4.60). Fedde was 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA in six starts in May. He was very effective in his first five starts before getting roughed up for six runs and eight hits in just 1 1/3 innings in his last appearance on May 30 against the New York Mets.
Fedde is 1-0 with a 5.52 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.
After allowing a home run and retiring only two of four batters in Thursday’s 8-1 loss to the Reds, Nationals lefty reliever Josh Rogers was placed on the 15-day injured list before Friday’s game with left-shoulder impingement.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Rogers is expected to receive an MRI Saturday before the team medical staff reevaluates the severity of his injury.
To make room for left-hander Mike Minor, who made his 2022 Reds debut Friday night, the Reds optioned outfielder TJ Friedl to Triple-A Louisville before Friday’s game.
Reds manager David Bell confirmed Friday that 34-year-old left-hander Justin Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Wilson had not pitched since feeling elbow soreness April 23 during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In five appearances this season, Wilson had a 2.45 ERA. He can be a free agent after this season.
“He might have bought himself quite a few more years of pitching,” Bell said. “The success rate of that surgery, and he was pitching really well. A left-handed reliever, he can pitch into his 40s if he wants.”
–Field Level Media