Left-hander Patrick Corbin bounced back from a run of rough starts with the help of a newly reunited former teammate, center fielder Gerardo Parra, in the Nationals’ 6-2 win over the Phillies in game one of a Wednesday doubleheader at Nats Park.
Parra, who played his first game for the Nats May 10, went 2-for-4 with a double, homer, a run scored and two RBIs. He also made the defensive play of the game - a barehanded play on a single towards him in center field - that he picked up and nailed Bryce Harper at third base to prevent a big sixth inning for the Phillies.
“That’s the only chance I had to get Harper,” Parra said of using his bare hand to pick up the ball. “I know he’s an aggressive player and I tried to get everything perfect. Bare-handed, throw the ball as fast as I can. I think that changed the game.”
Nationals manager Davey Martinez has joked every time Parra makes a big play it is because the veteran center fielder is just mimicking what the former Major Leaguer would do in his playing days.
“He’s mini-me,” Martinez smiled. “That’s what I told him too. It’s funny he came down and says you didn’t do that. You never did that. I go, ‘too bad, I got videos of all of them’.”
But seriously, Martinez was impressed by Parra’s ability to bare hand the ball and get the streaking Harper at third base. The play was challenged by the Phillies and it was confirmed as an out, center field to third baseman Anthony Rendon, who tagged out Harper. The Phillies got two hits and a walk in the inning, but did not score.
“Yes, I was...very (impressed),” Martinez said. “When he comes up throwing fire like that, this is really good. He’s a good outfielder. Remember he won two Golden Gloves. So, he’s good.”
Parra doubled in the fourth to score Juan Soto and give the Nats their first lead, 2-1. He added a big insurance run in the eighth following Brian Dozier’s two-run shot, connecting on a solo homer to right field for his fifth homer of the season. That roundtripper made it 6-1 Nationals.
Corbin, who allowed one-run in seven innings, remembered seeing Parra pull off those kind of plays when they were teammates in Arizona from 2012-2014.
“I got to see that a bunch of years in Arizona, coming up with him,” Corbin said. “You can put him at any position. I’ve never seen him at first, which he’s done pretty well for us this year but he seems to come up with the big hit.
“(He) brings a lot of energy to this team and you know he’s going to try to throw you out. That’s something you love as a pitcher, someone out there trying to lay out for a ball, make a great play and he lives for it, and we love it as a pitching staff.”
The extra-base hits for Parra also broke an 0-for-23 string. The center fielder had not connected on a hit since June 1 against Cincinnati (3-for-4). That was also the last game he hit a home run.
Parra got the Nationals crowd involved in his at-bats when he changed his walk-up song to “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong. He said he was inspired to change his music thanks to his two-year-old daughter, Aaliyah Victoria.
“I wanted to put on something different,” Parra said. “My girl loves that song. Before the game, I tried merengue, reggae, hip-hop, then I said, you know what, I want to put in Baby Shark. I’m happy for that.”
The added benefit of having “Daddy Shark” in the lineup and contributing in game one of a doubleheader is that Victor Robles got a full game off to rest and will be ready to go for game two.