After missing a catch at first base Sunday afternoon in Game 1 loss in a doubleheader against the Marlins, Eric Thames spoke about the frustration he’s felt during this abbreviated season and how it has played out for the last-place Nationals.
In Game 2, his teammates took out those frustrations on a difficult campaign, slamming five homers and collecting 18 hits in a 15-0 shellacking of the Marlins at Marlins Park, splitting the twinbill.
“This game is unbelievable,” said manager Davey Martinez during his postgame Zoom video session. “That’s why we love to come out here. They love to play it. First game, we can’t score any runs, had opportunities. Second game, we score a bunch. The boys swung the bats well the second game. Let’s continue to do that.”
After falling 2-1 in game 1, the Nats rebounded quickly with three runs in the top of first and cruised in support of rookie Ben Braymer, who was making his first major league start.
“It was exciting,” Braymer said. “I knew throughout the duration of this road trip that I would have a chance to start on of these doubleheader games. To get the opportunity today was really cool. Felt good leading up to first pitch and felt good throughout my warmups and routine. The guys did a good job of making me feel comfortable, making me feel supported and I think it showed.”
Kurt Suzuki homered to lead off the third inning and Michael A. Taylor blasted a two-run shot a few batters later. Juan Soto and Cabrera each had three hits. Suzuki finished with four RBIs and Cabrera had three.
“It was obviously a good day,” Suzuki said. “You get some RBIs, help the team win. It’s always a nice day offensively. Everybody wants to hit and stuff. ... I didn’t swing much today. I took like seven swings today and I was like, ‘Oh, here we go!’ “
Braymer could not have asked for a nicer way to step to the mound in the bottom of the first than the three-run cushion. Following a walk to leadoff man Jon Berti, the southpaw settled in.
Mixing his fastball with his changeup and curveball, the left-hander set down the Marlins without a hit for the first 3 2/3 innings. Jesús Aguilar connected on a two-out single to right field in the fourth inning.
That turned out to be the only hit for the Fish against Braymer, who lasted a season-high five innings, giving up three walks and striking out four on 86 pitches on his way to his first major league win.
“He was outstanding,” Martinez said. “When he throws strikes, he is effective. His fastball sneaks up on you, good breaking ball, really good changeup. Kurt Suzuki and him had a game plan coming in utilizing all his pitches, using both sides of the plate. He did it really well. We wanted to get him that win. We talked to him, we watched him, but he looked really good. We weren’t going to let him go more than 90 pitches.”
Suzuki liked the way Braymer stayed around the strike zone and was not afraid to mix all of his pitches in different sequences.
“He had a really good changeup, big curveball, mixed in some heaters,” Suzuki said. “For the most part, he was just moving the ball out. There wasn’t any predictability to him. Got a lot of mis-hits in the zone, which is good, soft contact. That’s what you like to see. The guy throws strikes and he looks comfortable out there.”
When Braymer finished his final inning, the Nats led 11-0. MASN cameras watched as he tried to stay loose in the dugout while the Nats were running up the score.
“That was crazy,” Braymer said. “There were some times where I was like, ‘Dang, guys, it’s been like 30 minutes.’ That’s huge. The previous game was a tight, close one, not much going either way, and this one, obviously there was more runs scored but you just got to stick to the things that you know will allow you to be successful.”
James Bourque left after one hitter due to an apparent injury, but Ryne Harper fired two scoreless innings. The Nats allowed two hits on the night. Martinez said Bourque felt tightness in his arm and the reliever was being evaluated by the training staff. The Nats hope to know more Monday.
Marlins starter Braxton Garrett surrendered five runs (four earned), allowing five hits, walking three and striking out two over 2 2/3 innings. Relievers Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger did not fare any better, each allowing five runs.
Turner now has 10 homers, marking the fifth consecutive season he has gone into double digits in that category.
The Nationals return home Monday night for the final seven days of the season, beginning with a four-game series against the Phillies.