December 10, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 52 Review: Long ball powers Nats past O’s

Washington Nationals Nathan Karns MLB debut, May 28, 2013 (Photo Courtesy of Jenn Jenson)

Washington Nationals Nathan Karns MLB debut, May 28, 2013 (Photo Courtesy of Jenn Jenson)

At long last, the Washington Nationals (27-25) offense came alive Tuesday night as the team out-hit their Beltway rival Baltimore Orioles (28-24) 9-3 at Nationals Park.

After an 81-minute rain delay, right-hander Nathan Karns (ND, 0-0) took the mound for Washington, called up directly from Double-A Harrisburg as a result of Ross Detwiler’s placement on the 15-day disabled list. Karns tossed a less-than-stellar 4.1 innings, but there were clear indications that the potential is there.

For starters, the 25-year-old pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, forcing Nate McLouth, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis out on infield grounders.

Adam LaRoche quickly positioned Karns for a potential win by socking a three-run shot over the right-center field wall in the bottom half of the inning off 22-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman (L, 0-2).

In the top of the second, however, the O’s trimmed a run off the lead with a Chris Davis single and Matt Wieters double.

But, it didn’t stop there.

In the fourth inning, Adam Jones popped to Ian Desmond at short for the out before Davis and J.J. Hardy each took a page from LaRoche’s book with solo homers to tie the game.

In the bottom half, the Nats retaliated once more – again with the long ball. After LaRoche led off with a walk, Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina hit back-to-back homers to put the Nats up 6-3. Before the inning was over, Kurt Suzuki singled and scored on a Denard Span double to expand the Nats’ lead to four runs into the fifth.

Unfortunately for fans hoping to witness Karns’s first career win, the newcomer didn’t make it past the first out before allowing walks to McLouth and Machado. His final line shows promise, however, as he pitched 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. His primary crutch became the two home runs, but otherwise, he maintained a decent level of control despite an obvious battle with nerves.

With one out and two on, Zach Duke (W, 1-1) entered in his relief, looking ready to shave runs off his ERA and erase memories of his previous stints.

Duke forced Markakis to ground into an inning-ending double play on his second pitch thrown. He came on to pitch a perfect sixth inning – enough to add a tally at last in his personal “wins” column without allowing any hits or walks.

In the bottom of the eighth, LaRoche added padding to Washington’s lead with yet another homer to lead off. Desmond followed with a double and came home on a Bernadina single to bring the Nats to a would-be final 9-3 lead.

Fernando Abad pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to close the book on the Nats’ 15th home win of the season.

THE GOOD: Davey Johnson began growing a beard last week with the declaration that he wouldn’t shave it until the Nationals broke out of their hitting slump. But, fear not – the 70-year-old manager may not shave it after all – why jinx something when it finally looks to work?

And that it did.

Adam LaRoche went 2-for-3 with 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI and 1 BB.  Tyler Moore went 1-for-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and Roger Bernadina went 2-for-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI. Add to that, Kurt Suzuki went 3-for-4 with a run scored and Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4.

Even more, the only Nat to strike out was Steve Lombardozzi.

Also worth noting – there were no errors.

THE BAD: Nats fans will have to wait to witness a Nathan Karns win, but at least Washington put on quite a show.

THE UGLY: With one out and Kurt Suzuki on base, Nathan Karns managed to bunt into a double play on the first pitch he saw from Kevin Gausman.

THE STATS: 9 R, 4 HR, 13 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 LOB, 3-for-6 RISP

NEXT GAME: 7:05 p.m. at Oriole Park; RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-2, 1.71) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (4-2, 3.68)

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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