Nats cruise to victory after Adon departs early with cramps (updated)

Tonight was supposed to be the first turn of the Nationals’ new six-man rotation, with Joan Adon making his second start since being inserted last week.

But the thing about a six-man rotation is that they need six men to pitch in it.

Adon’s availability moving forward is now in question after he was pulled from tonight’s 8-2 win over the Athletics with cramps in his legs while warming up for the fourth inning.

“I just started on my warmups and I felt it right away in my calf and in my groin a little bit," Adon said after the game, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. "One was my calf on one side and my groin on the other.”

The 26-year-old right-hander, who threw an impressive quality start Saturday in Cincinnati, threw a couple of warmup pitches to backup catcher Riley Adams in between the third and fourth innings. But before Keibert Ruiz could even get his catching gear on, manager Davey Martinez and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard were out of the dugout checking on the starting pitcher and then departed with him.

“Cramps. Legs cramped up on him," Davey Martinez said. "Second time. He cramped up in Cincinnati as well. So we got to figure out how to get him (better), whether it's drinking more fluids, we don't know yet. I saw him drink a lot. But both his legs were cramped up.”

Before he started cramping, Adon was erratic in the first of his three innings. He gave up two runs on a single, walk, wild pitch and two-run single to Jordan Diaz. There was also a wild pickoff attempt to first base, though the runner didn’t advance.

“I felt good," Adon said. "The first inning I felt like I was trying to find my control. It was a little off. But as the game went on, I felt really good. I felt like I had command of the zone.”

“We had a tough first inning," Ruiz said. "Jordan put a good swing on the breaking ball outside the zone. But after that, he was good. I think if he doesn't get the cramps, he's gonna have a good outing.”

Adon needed 24 pitches in the first, 22 in the second and 17 in the third for 63 total on the night, 34 for strikes.

"It's a little worse," Adon said. "I've had it before, but usually I get it later in the game. Sixth, seventh inning. And it does worry me a little bit the fact that it happens so early in the game.”

And that was just the first of a bizarre series of events in this blowout.

After the fourth inning finally started, Ruiz was hit in the left kneecap by a tipped foul ball. As he lay on the ground for an extended period with Martinez and Lessard back on the field, Adams started getting ready in the dugout to replace the starting catcher.

But after a stretch and lengthy delay, Ruiz remained in the game.

Then as this game moved to the top of the fifth, a “sell the team” chant erupted from the crowd of 22,651 as part of a pre-planned protest by the Oakland fan base of their owner, John Fisher, trying to move the A’s to Las Vegas. As it's a familiar chant in this town (as it relates to the local football team), Washington supporters joined in with their fellow baseball fans.

And as if this game wasn’t nerve-racking enough with potential injuries, Lane Thomas was hit by a pitch in the right wrist area in the bottom of the seventh, bringing Davey Martinez and Lessard out for the third time. Fortunately, he would take his base and stay in the game.

"They're both fine," Davey Martinez said. "We'll keep an eye on Lane. I thought he wasn't gonna be able to hit after, but he said he felt fine. He just missed that pitch right there. ... We'll see how they feel tomorrow.”

The early two-run deficit did not present a daunting obstacle for the Nationals offense. The A’s pitching staff owns the worst ERA (5.77) and WHIP (1.524) in the majors.

The Nats tied the game at 2-2 in the second off right-hander Paul Blackburn with a leadoff walk and three straight singles to right field.

Jake Alu then gave them a 3-2 lead with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, his sixth career RBI. He would record his seventh with his first career home run leading off the eighth. And yes, he got the silent treatment from his teammates when he got back to the dugout.

“Kind of was trying to get a swing off on a fastball, and I got it first pitch kind of up in the zone," Alu said of his first dinger. "And I was able to barrel it up and get one out of there.”

More power preceded Alu’s longball, with Ruiz hitting a solo homer in the fifth and Ildemaro Vargas hitting a three-run shot in the seventh to help put this one away. Ruiz finished the night 2-for-3 with three runs, an RBI, a walk and a bruised kneecap. Vargas finished 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs. He’s 6-for-15 (.400) with three runs, two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs over his last four games.

“I've been feeling good," Ruiz said. "Just got to keep it going.”

“He's playing every day and he's playing really well," Davey Martinez said of Vargas. "He's the guy that brings that energy every day and he loves playing. The big thing is that he loves playing. He doesn't really carry his at-bats. Once an at-bat is over, he gets to the next one. He's just a true professional. He's pulling for everybody out there. But he loves to play the game.”

For a six-man rotation to work over the long haul, the bullpen needs to have long relief arms ready in case of emergency, such as this.

Cory Abbott and Robert Garcia emerged earlier this week as two of the long-relief arms Davey Martinez would rely on in such situations, and sure enough, they were the first ones out of the bullpen to replace Adon.

“We went to a six-man bullpen," Davey Martinez said with a laugh. "And they did well. Proud of the guys. It's hard when your pitcher comes out like that. But those guys, Cory, did good. And we tried to plan it so that the next couple of days, these guys will be available in case something does happen. But they all did well.”

Abbott completed 1 ⅓ scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout on 23 pitches. Garcia completed 1 ⅔ scoreless innings with a strikeout on 20 pitches

“Attack the zone," Abbott said. "Just hope to get some ground balls, get out there quickly and figure it out from there. I was just going in there, pump strikes and let the defense work.”

Jose A. Ferrer and Jordan Weems followed to seal the victory.

“They stepped up, and that's challenging for those guys in the bullpen," Davey Martinez said. "I know Cory is always ready, but they don't expect to come in like that. But he did a great job. Him and Robert came in. They all did. Ferrer came in and then Weems finished it off. We have to check on Weems for tomorrow, but they threw the ball well.”

The only damper on the evening for the Nats was Adon’s injury and what it might mean for their rotation’s future.

“I feel good, especially the fact that they have that trust in me, the opportunity they're giving me and especially the way I feel," he said. "I feel like I'm able to do a good job out there.”

Alu finally barrels up first homer
Rainey and Harvey throw simulated innings at Nats ...

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