Nationals Clobber Wounded Diamondbacks, but David Peralta Accomplishes a Personal Goal

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Nationals 17, Diamondbacks 2

Washington Nationals third baseman Starlin Castro entered Friday’s game against the host Arizona Diamondbacks riding an 11-game hit streak. The Diamondbacks snapped his hitting streak, but that was the only good news of the night for them. Castro’s teammates socked 22 hits, including 10 for extra bases, as the Nationals drubbed the Diamondbacks, 17–2. Catcher Yan Gomes went 5-for-6 with four runs scored, falling a home run shy of the cycle.

Shortstop Trea Turner deposited the second pitch of the game into the left-field bleachers, an omen of things to come. When the dust settled after the third out of the top of the first, the Nationals — who had sent 10 men to the plate — held a 6–0 lead. Diamondbacks starter Riley Smith had been roughed up for five hits — a homer, three doubles, and a single — while walking two.

A 6–0 deficit is tough enough for a major league team to climb out of, but against a future Hall of Famer like Max Scherzer, it can feel insurmountable. He allowed two hits while walking two and striking out seven against the team that drafted him.

Meanwhile, his Nationals continued to pile up runs while abusing the Diamondbacks pitching staff. They added one run each in the second and third, extending their lead to 8–0. Three more runs came in the fifth. Another came in the seventh. Two more came in the eighth, and three more came in the ninth. The home nine, meanwhile, eked out six hits. They managed to plate a run in the sixth and brought another across in the ninth to avoid the shutout, but in the meantime, they had just suffered their most lopsided home loss ever.

Diamondbacks Reflect on Loss to Nationals

The morning did not start well for the Diamondbacks, either. They had to place infielder Asdrubal Cabrera — a key veteran both on and off the field — on the 10-day injured list due to a strained hamstring. “To say that it was a rough day would be an understatement,” manager Torey Lovullo said after the game. “The day didn’t start that great. We got clipped for six runs in the top of the first, and it led us down a dark road.”

The team already had questions surrounding one spot in the five-man rotation due to the recent elbow injury to ace Zac Gallen. Now Riley Smith’s future in the rotation might be in jeopardy after Friday’s rough outing. With Taylor Widener still not back from his groin injury, that makes a bad situation worse. Relief pitching has not been a strength for the Diamondbacks, so their starters have had to carry the load. However, they’re running out of experienced options.

A Personal Goal Is Achieved

One Diamondbacks player, despite the drubbing at the hands of the Nationals, met a career goal Friday night. Left fielder David Peralta began his journey through the minors as a pitcher. That did not work out for him, so he started over as a left fielder and fought his way to the big leagues. Ever since Lovullo began his managerial tenure in 2017, Peralta had been lobbying to be used as a pitcher in a position-pitching situation.

Peralta was all smiles after the game. “I was really happy. (After) the game we were having, that made my night,” he beamed. Lovullo made him promise not to go full-bore with velocity and breaking balls, telling him just to throw strikes and let the defense take care of the rest. Peralta agreed, so he got to go finish off a personal goal. “I said, ‘Trust me. I just want to hear “NOW PITCHING…DAVID PERALTA.”’ And I made it. I made my MLB debut as a pitcher.” Peralta looked down, all smiles, nearly overwhelmed by his happiness. “I’m happy with that. It’s one thing I’m going to scratch off my list.”

His stat line wasn’t the greatest — four hits, three earned runs, a hit batsman, and a home run to Andrew Stevenson — but it did include a strikeout. The team kept that baseball for him. This marks two special baseballs that Peralta has kept in as many nights, as he notched career hit number 800 Thursday against the Miami Marlins. “It’s going to be in my trophy collection for sure,” he said, acknowledging that the ball would be right next to the 800th hit ball.

Looking Ahead for the Nationals and Diamondbacks

Scherzer earned the win to run his record for the season to 3-2. Against the Diamondbacks — the team who drafted him out of college — the three-time Cy Young winner is now a perfect 8–0 with a 2.38 ERA. Smith (1-3) took the loss in a night he needs to quickly put behind him.

Peralta pitching might be a blessing in disguise. On a night where nothing went right, he brought humor to the field, reminding us that although they’re getting paid to play at a high level, it’s ultimately about having fun. “Sometimes you have to accept the defeat and move on,” Lovullo said. “We lost the battle today, but it doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to take the next steps and win the next one.”

Peralta suggested that getting clobbered can sometimes be easier to get over than a close loss, especially when a team isn’t playing well and needs to turn a corner. The Diamondbacks have had several recent losses on the field, dropping seven of their last ten now. But they’ve also had devastating news on the injury front, losing Christian Walker, Zac Gallen, and Asdrubal Cabrera over the last few days while already missing Taylor Widener, Ketel Marte, and Kole Calhoun. “When we fall, we have to get up and keep doing our job,” Peralta said. “Baseball is not easy. But we come every day, practice every day, and work hard every day to make that happen. I wish it could happen overnight, but we’ve got to come tomorrow and do our best to win the game.”

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Players mentioned:
Starlin Castro, Yan Gomes, Trea Turner, Riley SmithMax Scherzer, Asdrubal Cabrera, Torey Lovullo, Zac Gallen, Taylor Widener, David Peralta, Andrew Stevenson, Christian Walker, Ketel Marte, Kole Calhoun