Adams boosts Nats on both sides during G1 win

July 24th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- was no hero during the Nationals' 3-2 win against the Rockies on Wednesday at Nationals Park. He didn’t drive in a run, he didn’t strike out a side and he really didn’t make any sort of jaw-dropping plays for those in attendance for Game 1 of the doubleheader.

But that’s not what the Nationals need from him. Washington entered Wednesday with a -0.6 WAR from its first basemen this year, which ranks 19th in MLB and second-lowest league-wide among Washington’s positional players. With a 92 OPS+ entering Wednesday, Adams has done his part to contribute to that subpar production.

But now slotting back into the starting first baseman role after Ryan Zimmerman landed back on the injured list Monday, Adams showcased Wednesday what he hopes his ceiling can turn into when given a daily nod. Adams reached base each of the four times he stepped into the batter’s box and featured a baseball IQ that seems to be easier to grasp with a repetition of starts

“I just have to be ready because I know that my role when Zim is healthy is coming off the bench whenever the team needs me,” Adams said. “Now, it’s filling in a little bit more and getting some more at-bats. But I’m the type of person that I’m ready every day, and I show up every day just ready to do whatever I can to help the team.”

The history of success for Adams, at least, has been clear. The lefty has hit .097/.097/.355 in 31 at-bats as a pinch-hitter in 2019 entering Wednesday compared to .262/.303/.555 as a starter. Production was manifested Wednesday with a double off the wall, a single to center and a pair of walks.

“Usually, when he comes off the bench, he is geared up to hit one pitch, and try to hit it as hard as he can,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “Now, he’s working at-bats and he’s staying up the middle of the field. … I thought he got that one at the top of the wall.”

Adams' intangible baseball sense also came to light Wednesday. With Charlie Blackmon standing on second base, Adams collected an Anthony Rendon throw across the diamond on a bang-bang play that saw David Dahl called out. It was close enough, though, that Blackmon tried to race home in case the call was overturned, but Adams' wherewithal was sharp enough that he threw Blackmon out at home.

Rockies manager Bud Black griped, but no challenge was issued. Regardless, it showed what Adams can bring at his peak performance in the field.

“I knew it was going to be bang-bang just because Dahl can run a little bit,” Adams said. “If I looked back to see what his call was if he is safe, then Charlie is going to be safe at home. I wanted to make sure there was no doubt at home.”

“Heads up play by Matty to remember,” Martinez said. “He came up right away and fired it.”

It all came amid the 100th game of the year -- which has the Nationals sitting at 54-46 after a 19-31 start -- and another audition from for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. His results were mixed: Fedde threw four innings but needed 79 pitches to do so, allowing just one run on three hits.

Fedde -- who was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg after the game in favor of as the Nationals opted for catching depth -- was pulled in the bottom half of the fourth in favor of pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra, whose bases-loaded walk forced in Adams for the Nats’ first run.

Homers from Adam Eaton and Rendon solidified the win behind a steady bullpen and may serve as the game’s highlights, but it was the play from Adams filling in the shoes for the face of the franchise once again that was most encouraging to begin a long day at Nationals Park.