Turner Jolts Pirates to Complete the Sweep

It was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel at Nats park between two unlikely sources, Trevor Williams for the Pirates and Jeremy Hellickson for the Nationals. Both fail to click 95 on the radar and are better suited in number five roles. With five innings gone Williams had allowed just one hit with no runner touching third. Hellickson had also allowed no runner to touch third, allowing just two hits.

Hellickson was not allowed to complete the sixth inning. A two out single by Adam Frazier had Dave Martinez take the ball away from Hellickson and give it to Sammy Solis to face the lefthand hitting Gregory Polanco. Jeremy did not have a full spring so facing the Pirates lineup for a third time was too big a risk for Martinez. Solis did his job getting Polanco to hit a high fly to right to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth a pesky Wilmer Difo lined a single into right field. Batting ninth Difo managed two walks and one hit for the day. Williams got Bryce Harper to fly to right. The fans were getting a bit edgy waiting for the Nats bats to erupt. Trea Turner was the key to that action lining a Williams pitch into the left field stands about three rows into the bleachers to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead. After being silent for five innings Nat fans relished in repeating twice the spelling of “N-A-T-S”. A batter later Ryan Zimmerman launched a pitch into the red Brewhouse seats in centerfield to up the lead to 3-0 and finish the day for Williams.

The Pirates were able to score a run off Ryan Madson in the eighth. Colin Moran was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Josh Bell pinch hit for the pitcher and lined a single to the opposite field in left. With one out Adam Frazier hit what looked to be an inning ending double play grounder to Howie Kendrick at second but the ball clanked off his glove to load the bases. Dave Martinez chose to go with Sean Doolittle to face the lefty hitting Gregory Polanco, the second time he chose to go to a lefty to retire Polanco. It would also require Doolittle to be extended to a five out save. Polanco hit a grounder to Kendrick, the Nationals tried to turn two but fell short, with a run scoring. Starling Marte flied out to right to end the inning.

Doolittle was able to retire the Pirates in order in the ninth to complete the five out save and give the Nationals a five game winning streak.

Game Notes: On the Nats scoreboard exit velocity was replaced by mound visits. Myworld enjoyed looking at exit velocity…The Nationals have also discontinued handing out the mini-programs. Don’t know if that was to save money or to save on trash. The mini-programs were nice to have to look at rosters, but they were left all over the stadium after the game…Williams could only reach 93 with his fastball but sat in the low 90s. Hellickson sits in the low 90s hitting 92. Both pitchers rely on location for success, with Williams walking the only hitter on the day…Ryan Zimmerman made a great play in the ninth inning, snagging a grounder between first and second and then tossing a perfect lead to Doolittle covering first. Not a lot of firstbaseman can cover the ground Zimmerman does…Wilmer Difo seems to enjoy hitting in the ninth spot. He was 1 for 1 with two walks on the day.

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