Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner continues to pound the New York Mets. His two doubles were key in their 5-2 win.
Sometimes, mastering the little things makes the difference. On Tuesday, the Washington Nationals did that.
In beating Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets 5-2, the Nats created offense when they had too. On the night, they drew five walks while only fanning four times. Washington stole three bases and pulled off a sacrifice bunt from Wilmer Difo. Outside Trea Turner’s two doubles, the rest of their eight hits were singles.
In five plate appearances, Turner reached four times. He singled, walked and stole a base. Even in the Arc
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tic New York air, he is red-hot.
When Washington brought Dave Martinez on board to manage the club, they wanted a new philosophy to use. Who would have thought the analytics wizard would turn the Nats into masters of small ball?
From sacrifice bunts to catcher’s stealing, Washington and Martinez ended their early season doldrums by brute force. Not by the long ball, even with Bryce Harper’s National League high of eight, but by forcing other tams into mistakes. The combination of walks and speed keep opponents on their heels and good things happen.
You need the right combination of players to make it work. Washington does. Goodness, Moises Sierra swiped a bag Tuesday. Stealing is contagious.
Martinez preached aggression this spring and the results show on the scoreboard. Teams play the power game, high-strikeout pitchers with runs coming in bunches with homers. The three-run blast is old Earl Weaver baseball. Win games on the long ball and pitching.
What Martinez is doing is not new, but the speed game has been unsuccessful like this since those mid-80s St. Louis Cardinals. The difference is those Cards had zero power. When healthy, Washington has six potential 20-plus home run hitters.
PITCHING WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Give the Nats bullpen full credit for slamming the door again. And, a nice hand for Gio Gonzalez who owns Citi Field.
Washington held the Mets with runners in scoring position hitless. New York had nine at-bats with chances to score and they drew a blank. Sammy Solis and the “Law Firm” threw 3.2 innings of scoreless ball. They walked one and fanned seven. When runners got on, they went nowhere.
New York stranded 11.
Special props to Brandon Kintzler. He has pitched three straight high-leverage games and worked out of trouble after a tough 23-pitch inning. His fastballs have movement while the sinker dives around. These are not your older brother’s bullpen.
Tanner Roark goes for the sweep Wednesday night.