Adams continues hot start with big night vs. Verlander

Catcher slugs homer, double in Astros ace's season debut

April 20th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- delivered again Friday night, getting the Nationals on the board with a run in the third inning and hitting a homer in the fifth, but it was not enough in the club’s 5-3 loss to the Astros at Nationals Park.

The catcher, whose 2023 season was cut short in September after he sustained a left hamate fracture, is off to a strong start in his '24 campaign, slashing .306/.316/.583 with four doubles, two homers and five RBIs. He has gone 9-for-25 (.360) over his past seven games.

“Baseball has its highs and lows,” Adams said. “I didn’t have the best series in L.A. from a hitting perspective, so [I'm] just trying to get back to the basics.”

Adams has been able to step up with starting catcher Keibert Ruiz still recovering from the flu. The 27-year-old went 2-for-3 in his fourth multi-hit game in his past seven appearances with the Nats.

“He’s been playing really, really well, and I think it has a lot to do with confidence,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “A lot has to do with learning who he is and what he can do. Him hitting the way he’s been hitting is great. I like the overall game.”

Martinez was right about the confidence.

“It’s a good sign, and there’s confidence in that.” Adams said. “Sometimes I forget that [the injury] happened last year, so we’re moving on, and it feels good right now.”

Adams showcased that confidence going up against right-hander Justin Verlander in the opener of the Nationals’ six-game homestand.

Pitching in his first game of the season, the three-time Cy Young Award winner retired seven straight before Adams made his first appearance at the plate. Adams showed the power that he has, hitting a double that left his bat at 107.9 mph and hit the scoreboard on the right-center-field wall. When Ildemaro Vargas followed by hitting a single into right field, Adams was off running and made it to home plate.

In his second at-bat, Adams hit his second home run of the season to cut the Nationals’ deficit to 4-2 in the fifth inning.

“I’m just trying to get a pitch over the heart of the plate early and just be aggressive,” he said. “I was just looking for something early and not let the at-bat go too long, and thankfully, [Verlander] left a couple of pitches more in the middle of the zone, and I was able to capitalize.”

Between innings, Adams talked to starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore, who had thrown 53 pitches by the second frame, about the southpaw’s execution against the Astros’ lineup.

“I thought he was executing really good pitches, they’re just batting tough,” Adams said.

By the end of four innings, Gore had struck out four (bringing his total strikeouts for the season to 27) while allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk on 92 pitches (64 strikes).

“MacKenzie threw the ball well,” Martinez said. “The pitch count just got up on him, and I didn’t want him to run back out there.”

The Nationals’ offense tried to back up Adams’ work in the second and fifth inning but were unsuccessful, going 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

In the ninth inning, CJ Abrams hit a triple and got a third run on the board after Jesse Winker hit a sac fly to right field. The next two batters reached to bring the winning run to the plate, but Astros closer Josh Hader struck out the next two to end the game.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Martinez said. “We just didn’t have many hits.”