It also helps that his offense has Juan Soto at bat third.
Soto homered twice — a solo hit in the fourth and a three-run homer in the seventh — to help the Nationals rally from a four-run deficit for a 10-8 win at Great American Ball Park. As Soto’s second homer cut the margin to one, Maikel Franco’s ninth-inning single gave the Nationals the lead and Luis García (four RBIs) added a two-run single for crucial insurance in the ninth, especially since Tanner Rainey later allowed a ninth inning home run to Brandon Drury.
Rainey held on to earn his seventh save.
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“We were like, ‘Hey, we’re back in the game,'” Martinez said of the team’s approach after Soto’s second homer. “And then you start to see the bats getting sharper and better. We started hitting the ball on the nose again.
The Nationals (20-35) had 16 hits, two of which belonged to Soto, who entered the game with .223 and on a 2-for-19 slip. Soto has now hit three homers in his last two games and leads the Nationals with 12 – eight of which came with empty bases.
“I felt pretty good,” Soto said. “I was just trying to get the ball in play, trying to help my team as much as possible. I just went in and got a few barrels, and saw the ball fly.
In the third inning, Soto could have had a great RBI opportunity but never got the chance. As Soto was expected to follow, César Hernández attempted to score on a Lane Thomas single through the left side of the infield, but Hernández was sent off at home to end the inning.
Third base coach Gary DiSarcina’s decision to send out Hernández looked even worse when Soto threw his first home run of the game 423 feet down the center to open the fourth inning and cut the Nationals deficit. at 2-1.
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Washington scored two more in that inning — with the bases loaded, Franco singled to tie the game and García hit a sacrifice fly to give the Nationals a lead.
The Reds (18-34) regained the lead with a five-point fifth that included a grand slam by Almora Jr. against Jordan Weems.
Two rounds later, DiSarcina learned from his earlier mistake. Thomas singled again with Hernández in second and DiSarcina quickly called the stopper.
Soto rewarded his faith with a 419-foot blast in the right seats of the field. García doubled in the eighth to drive in Franco and tie the game, and those two gave the final blows with their RBI shots.
After the match, García did his post-match interview with an interpreter. But when asked about Soto’s home runs, he smiled and said quickly in English: “Incredible. Unbelievable.”
Why was Martinez sent off in the ninth? Martinez argued with plate umpire Gabe Morales after Hernández was called on strikes to end the top of the inning. He said he was trying to keep Hernández from being sent off, but once he was thrown out, Martinez ran to home plate and visibly ended up in Morales’ face.
What is Erick Fedde’s ERA after Saturday’s start? 4.88. Two starts ago, his ERA was 3.55. Saturday’s outing was the second straight outing in which Fedde didn’t look like the version of himself Nationals fans have seen for most of May.
Fedde struggled with his command and allowed two runs to score in the first inning. He allowed two runners to reach fifth before being called out – both runners eventually scored. Fedde had just one strikeout and didn’t miss many bats, a similar theme to his previous outing against the Mets on May 30, when he allowed six runs and eight hits in 1⅓ of sleeve. On Saturday, the Reds swung on 32 of his 86 shots and blew just four times.
What happened in the Reds’ five-run fifth inning? Weems entered the game hoping to save the final out of the frame for Fedde with two runners and the Nationals ahead by one point. But Weems walked the follow-up batter, then endured 11 pitches at bat against Mike Moustakas, who fouled on six pitches.
Weems threw his 11th shot from catcher-at-bat past Keibert Ruiz for a walk ball in a run that tied the game. Then Almora threw a grand slam into the left field seats to give the Reds a 7-3 lead.
Has Martinez had any updates on Stephen Strasbourg? No, at least not before the game. Strasburg hadn’t arrived in Cincinnati because he had practiced in Rochester earlier in the day. Martinez wanted to wait until he spoke with Strasburg and Jim Hickey about how he was feeling physically and mentally before making any decisions about whether Strasburg would make his next majors start or make another rehab debut in Rochester.
Strasburg pitched six slugging innings for the Class AAA Red Wings on Friday.