Dodgers steamroll Nats in Turner's return to D.C.

Trea Turner sat in the third base dugout at Nationals Park, a visiting player here for the first time, and considered how few former teammates of his still call the first base dugout home.

“You look at the box score, and you see so many different names that I never played with,” the Dodgers shortstop said this afternoon. “A lot has changed, but that’s what happens in the business of baseball. There is turnover, and there’s guys trying to prove themselves and earn their spot, and that’s what’s going on over there.”

That is indeed what’s going on over there, the championship Nationals franchise Turner used to play for now a shell of its old self, with a handful of young players joining a bunch of placeholder veterans in slogging their way through a miserable opening two months to a rebuilding season.

Over on Turner’s new side, the Dodgers remain stacked with the most star-studded roster in the majors, going all-in once again in pursuit of another World Series title two years after they ended a 32-year championship drought.

The disparity could not have been more striking than it was during tonight’s series opener, which saw the Dodgers rock Joan Adon and Austin Voth for nine combined runs while the Nationals couldn’t so much as produce a single baserunner against Tyler Anderson until the sixth inning during a 10-1 steamrolling.

What could’ve been an emotional return to D.C. for Turner and 2019 World Series closer Daniel Hudson instead devolved into one of the Nationals’ ugliest games in a season that already has featured more than its share of those.

"This is a very difficult game," said catcher Keibert Ruiz, who faced the Dodgers for the first time since he came to Washington in the Turner deal. "It's not easy at all. We've just got to keep battling pitch by pitch. Don't give up and keep battling the best we can out there."

Most of the focus among the announced crowd of 22,423 as the evening began was on the top of the first, with a tribute video for Turner and Hudson shortly before first pitch, and then Turner’s first plate appearance here as a visiting player. His RBI grounder to second got the Dodgers on the board, and Will Smith’s RBI single two batters later extended the lead to 2-0.

Perhaps more attention should have been paid to the bottom of the first, or any inning Anderson was pitching against a Nationals lineup that offered zero reason to believe an offensive explosion was forthcoming.

Anderson cruised through the first on 13 pitches, then cruised through the second on 13 pitches, then cruised through the third on 10 pitches. And then he just kept going, retiring every batter he faced, having trouble with none of them and never really coming close to surrendering a hit.

Through the first five perfect innings, only two Nats managed to hit a ball harder than 82 mph off Anderson: Josh Bell, whose flyout to center in the second had an exit velocity of 91.4 mph, and Nelson Cruz, whose lineout to left in the fifth left his bat at 89 mph. Hardly solid contact, either of them.

"We didn't make any adjustments early on the changeup," manager Davey Martinez said. "His changeup was really good. We just couldn't get on it."

The Dodgers, meanwhile, were putting all kinds of runners on base against Adon, 11 of them in 4 2/3 innings, to be exact. They followed their two-run first with a three-run fourth, getting an RBI triple off the right field wall from Chris Taylor and then a gifted two-run “double” when Juan Soto lost Mookie Betts’ routine fly ball in either the lights or the twilight, the second such occurrence by a Nationals outfielder this month.

"This time of year, that twilight is bad," Martinez said. "You cannot take your eye off the ball. Even if you watch it all the way, when it gets up there, you're going to lose it. And it's something you can't practice. It was unfortunate."

When Adon let three straight batters reach base with two outs in the fifth, Cody Bellinger’s RBI double extending the Dodgers’ lead to 6-0, Martinez decided he had seen enough. Adon departed with a 6.97 ERA and 1.718 WHIP, having failed to complete five innings in seven of his nine starts this season.

"The thing I want to take the most out of today ... it's one of those things that's never happened to me," Adon said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. "It's a great lineup to face, and as the game progressed, it was hard a bit. I think it's more of being consistent and trying to locate my pitches much better."

The Nationals finally did something against Anderson in the bottom of the sixth, shortly after Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts pulled Turner from the game. César Hernández’s one-out double to left-center broke up the perfect game bid and ensured the Nats’ streak of never being no-hit since arriving in D.C. in 2005. Alcides Escobar followed with a single, and Soto, Josh Bell and Yadiel Hernandez each singled in the seventh.

Still, nobody scored, leaving the Nats headed toward another blowout loss, though they avoided the fourth shutout in their last 16 games with two-out hits by Cruz and Bell in the bottom of the ninth.

"After the sixth inning, we made some adjustments, we started hitting the ball better," Davey Martinez said. "It was too late. We were down."

Across the way, the Dodgers improved to 28-13, scoring double-digit runs for the fourth time in their last 14 games. There may have been a point last July when the idea of getting traded from D.C. to L.A. would’ve sounded unfathomable to Turner. Now it’s getting harder and harder to remember what it was like when he and all the others were still here.

“I think it just caught me a little off guard,” Turner said of the blockbuster trade. “I don’t think it was a bad thing, by any means. I think I’m in a really good spot on a really good team, and a chance to win a World Series. It’s been fun, it’s been good.”

Do Nats fans have reunion fatigue at this point?
Thomas moves up to leadoff spot, Cruz returns from...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to