April 21, 2021

Washington Nationals Game 45 Review: Fister Sharp as Nats’ Bats Come to Life in Win Over Reds

After suffering a 4-3 loss in 15 innings, the Washington Nationals found their offensive firepower Tuesday night, as they topped the Cincinnati Reds 9-4 at Nationals Park.

Entering the matchup, the Reds’ Johnny Cueto would have been an unlikely bet to provide the Nats with an opportunity to rack in the runs. Cueto entered the night the NL ERA and strikeout leader, but by the time he left the mound, he earned responsibility for six of the Nats’ earned runs over just 5.1 innings pitched.

In the meantime, right-hander Doug Fister found his groove. After allowing a first-inning double by Skip Schumaker and an RBI single by Todd Frazier, Fister was nearly untouchable. He allowed just one more earned run through seven total innings pitched, on six hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

Be it the impending rain, the fact that Cueto was arguably due for a rough start or the idea that the Nats were eager to erase memories of their extra-innings loss – whatever it was that rejuvenated the Nats’ offense impacted leadoff man Denard Span most of all.

The Nats’ center fielder went 5-for-5 on the night with a double, two runs and two RBIs.

It was Span himself who drove in the first run for the Nats on a third-inning bunt single that plated Fister, who reached in the prior at-bat on a fielding error. Span made it to third on a throwing error by third baseman Ramon Santiago, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rendon that made it 2-1 Washington.

While Fister continued to deliver – retiring 12 batters in a row from the middle of the second inning through the start of the sixth, the Nats struggled to heat up at the plate.

That is, until the bottom of the sixth.

The inning kicked off with a leadoff single by Span. With Rendon batting, Span stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Brayan Pena.

Rendon himself took first after getting hit by a runaway fastball before birthday man Jayson Werth singled in Span to make it 3-1.

After Ian Desmond struck out swinging, Tyler Moore singled to plate Rendon before Cueto then hit Kevin Frandsen with a 90 MPH cutter.

Espinosa singled to bring home Werth and Moore before Cincinnati finally called upon Sean Marshall to pitch in relief.

But, the rout did not stop there.

Jose Lobaton singled to plate Frandsen and, with two outs, Span doubled to bring home Espinosa and Lobaton. At that point, the Nats led 9-1.

The Reds earned back a run in the seventh when former Nat Roger Bernadina doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Billy Hamilton

The Reds chipped away just a bit more in the ninth off Ross Detwiler, who allowed a leadoff double to Zack Cozart before hitting Santiago with lighting hot four-seamer. Detwiler then allowed an RBI grounder to Bernadina and an RBI single to Hamilton before reliever Ryan Mattheus shut down the Reds.

Cueto finished the night with a final line of 5.1 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 6 K and 55 of 94 total pitches for strikes.

Fister, in turn, capped off the evening with 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K and 72 of 109 total pitches for strikes.

About Alyssa Wolice

Alyssa Wolice is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals and Wizards. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. You can follow Alyssa on Twitter @awolice.

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