For all of their pronounced troubles this season, the Washington Nationals have reason to hold their heads up for their positive play on the road.
Washington looks to continue its modest success away from the nation’s capital on Saturday night when they play the second contest of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick and Josh Harrison each homered as the Nationals erupted for 16 hits in a 10-2 win in the series opener on Friday. Washington, which languishes in the cellar of the National League East, improved to 6-4 on the road after winning the opener of an 11-game trek.
Soto has gone deep in back-to-back games and has eight hits in his past six outings. He was elevated to second in the lineup prior to the series opener.
“Get Juan up in the two-hole, maybe get him an extra at bat, he’s swinging the bat well,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said of his logic for the move.
Trea Turner had two doubles and a single in the opener and carries a 13-game hitting streak into Saturday’s contest. He has reached base safely in 19 consecutive contests and scored 21 runs and 15 RBIs in his past 17 outings overall.
Rafael Devers’ 100th career double plated a run in the third inning for the Red Sox. He is 12-for-39 with 11 RBIs and six extra-base hits in his past nine games.
While Washington seemingly could do no wrong in the opener, Boston manager Ron Roenicke was left to lament seeing his team allow five runs in the third inning that set the tone toward another defeat in what rapidly is becoming a lost season.
“No doubt we didn’t expect to be where we are now,” Roenicke said. “They started off poorly last year and then got really hot and just rolled right through, ended up winning the World Series. We know if this team is on their game, they’re obviously as good as anybody in baseball. On our end, we have to continue to try to do some things better.”
Mitch Moreland is batting .386 during his 15-game on-base streak for the Red Sox, who are in last place in the American League East. He is 3-for-8 with two homers in his career versus Washington right-hander Anibal Sanchez (1-3, 6.48 ERA).
Sanchez recorded his first win of the season on Sunday after allowing one run on five hits in seven innings in a 9-3 win over the Marlins, with whom he spent parts of seven seasons (2006-12).
“He was good. That’s the Anibal that I’ve known for a very long time,” Martinez said.
Sanchez, 36, has a 1-0 record with a 5.51 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) versus Boston.
Boston right-hander Chris Mazza (0-1, 6.35), who was tentatively slated to start Thursday’s postponed series finale against Toronto, will get the nod on Saturday.
Mazza surrendered four runs on eight hits in three innings in a 4-2 setback at the New York Yankees on Aug. 16. The 30-year-old will be making his 12th career major-league appearance and first versus Washington.
Roenicke told reporters that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi felt better after his bullpen session but still has discomfort in his calf. Boston will push back his start beyond Sunday, with right-hander Zack Godley expected to get the nod in the finale.
–Field Level Media