Nats Bats Get Hot Against Cueto

Entering Tuesday’s game, the Washington Nationals’ offense had their work cut out for them. They faced Johnny Cueto, who had an incredible 1.25 ERA and impressive 2.70 xFIP entering the game. Let’s just say they lived up to the challenge.

Meanwhile, Doug Fister was on the mound in DC for his first start at home since joining the team this offseason. The Reds got on the board early in the first inning on a double by Skip Schumaker and an RBI single by Todd Frazier. After that inning, though, Fister settled into an outstanding start.

In the third inning, the Nats had some luck go their way for what seemed like the first time in a while. Fister reached on an error by the first baseman Todd Frazier, and then Denard Span attempted to reach on a bunt and move Fister to second.

Well, third baseman Ramon Santiago’s throw went up the line, and Fister, athlete that he is, scored from first base, while Span went to third.  Anthony Rendon then knocked in a Span on a sacrifice fly, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead.

After retiring 12 straight batters starting in the second inning, Fister gave up a single to Brandon Phillips in the sixth inning and then walked Todd Frazier, but he was bailed out on a great diving stop by Rendon and a stretch at first base by Tyler Moore to end the inning with no real damage.

The Nats’ bats got something going in the sixth when Denard Span singled to right field. Cueto threw over a few times to try to shorten Span’s lead, but then Span stole second and advanced to third when the ball ended up in center field. On the next pitch, Cueto threw a 95 mph fastball that nailed Rendon. Then, on his 35th birthday, Jayson Werth hit a laser into shallow right field that scored Span and advanced Rendon to second.

After that, the inning exploded. Moore, Kevin Frandsen, Danny Espinosa, and Jose Lobaton reached in four consecutive at bats, and then Span earned his second hit of the inning and fourth of the game. Just like that, the Nats were ahead 9-1.

Fister gave up two hits and a run in the seventh, but he finished out the inning and an awesome first home outing. In his seven innings, he gave up just two runs on six hits, a walk, and struck out five.

Some thoughts:

– Denard Span has caught a lot of flak from people, including myself, about his paltry numbers so far this season. All he did today was go 5-for-5 and raise his OBP from .287 to .308. That’s a pretty good day.

– CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman made a pretty incredible observation about the Reds defense since coming to DC.

– Ross Detwiler continued his poor form tonight. With a seven-run lead, he entered the game with just two innings to finish, and he couldn’t complete the job. Ryan Mattheus had to come in to lock down the final two outs of the ninth inning. This is a problem worth monitoring. The Nats simply can’t have an arm in their already fantastic bullpen that they can’t trust, and Detwiler is out of minor league options.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.