On Friday night in New York, the pair demonstrated their ability by getting on base seven times and scoring three runs. On Sunday, they again combined for three runs on two hits and a walk. In those two games, they totaled three stolen bases.
Nationals manager Davey Martinez noticed what Turner can do leading off and with his quick glove on the infield. Turner even scored from third late Friday night when the ball got away from catcher Wilson Ramos.
“Trea is a game changer,” Martinez said. “He could beat a team in many ways. (Friday) was a perfect example of what he means to us at the top of that lineup. His speed, getting on base, taking his walks. Even being able to steal home with the ball on the dirt still. That’s pretty impressive.
“I just want him to understand that for him, when he takes his walks and gets on base, things happen. He creates havoc. Hopefully, he continues to take his walks. The power is there, as we all know. (Friday) he had some unbelievable at-bats, line drive to right field, which we love. The key for him is to get on base and make things happen.”
The pressure intensifies for the opposing starter when Turner gets on base. That makes Eaton’s at-bats quite different. The right fielder said having Turner on base when he gets into the box provides him several options.
“Makes my job so easy,” Eaton said. “I can bunt, hit in the hole, I can do a lot of different things when he’s on base. That goes for everybody. I think when guys are doing things around you, it kind of pushes everybody else to be successful. They worry about him, I get a lot more fastballs.”
Eaton said he knows he has an option with Turner on base to use the short game because the pair can then turn on their speed.
“I can bunt like I did (Friday) night or hit into the three-four hole,” Eaton said. “I know I’m going to get more fastballs. Bunting there, just knowing he’s going to get to second base, we have a good chance. You have seen me multiple times sac bunt, bunt for a hit with one out, just because I know how good Tony (Rendon) is. Those two guys, I’m blessed where I am right now in this situation because of how gifted they are.”
And when Turner and Eaton are on base, having Rendon and Juan Soto next makes the inning a nightmare scenario for the pitcher.
“It helps Eaton, but it helps the whole ballclub,” Martinez said. “It really does. And when Eaton gets on base, it has that trickle effect. Here comes Anthony, here comes Soto, here comes Matty Adams right now. So when those two guys are on, it creates a lot of issues.”
On Friday night, Rendon and Soto came up after Turner and Eaton and added fuel to the offensive fire. The No. 3 and No. 4 hitters combined for five hits, three runs and five RBIs. Rendon hit a triple and a homer while Soto added a double and a homer. Their heroics were overshadowed by the dramatic comeback by the Mets in the ninth. But it doesn’t take away from the main point: when Turner and Eaton are on, the Nats offense can really roll.
Plus, a three-run homer from your leadoff man never hurts either.