Three keys from the Nats' impressive sweep over Miami

June 16th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have emphasized the importance of winning against teams in their division. They struggled with the Marlins in the past, but this season has been different -- as in, 7-0 different.

The Nats completed their second sweep of the season against the Marlins with a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. While achieving their first home sweep of the year, the Nationals have won eight of their last nine games overall.

This recent stretch has been powered by their starting pitching, which has recorded a 1.03 ERA and .198 opponents’ batting average in the last six games. This weekend, left-handers MacKenzie Gore, DJ Herz and held the Marlins to a total of two runs and one walk over 19 innings.

“It was awesome,” said manager Dave Martinez. “When you get pitching like that and we score a few runs, it takes the pressure off our offense. But our offense is starting to pick it up a little bit. This weekend was an all-around good weekend.”

Here are three standout moments from the series finale as the Nats head into an off-day on Monday.

Parker keeps momentum on the mound
For the second game in a row, a rookie southpaw did not issue a walk in his start. Parker held the Marlins to one run over six innings the day after No. 12 prospect Herz dazzled with 13 strikeouts. Parker allowed six hits and struck out four across 85 pitches (65 strikes). For the fifth time this season, he did not give up a free base in a five-plus innings appearance.

“When everyone’s throwing well, it’s contagious,” said Parker. “... Winning’s fun. All of us are going out there to win a ball game, we’re having a great time.”

Parker has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 12 Major League outings, good for the longest streak by a Nationals pitcher (2005-present) to begin his career. Parker has held his opponents to just three runs in his last three starts (17 2/3 innings) while improving his season ERA to 3.06.

“This all started at Spring Training: You limit your walks, you’ll pitch in the Major Leagues,” said Martinez. “… He’s done the job. He understands, ‘I’ve got to throw strikes.’ He’s always around the plate, and he’s giving us the innings we need and he’s pitching really well.”

Thomas continues to torment Marlins
The Nationals’ offense was sparked by right fielder , who homered in his sixth consecutive game against Miami. He is tied with Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. (set in 2018) for the longest home run streak against the Marlins.

Since returning from a left MCL sprain on May 27, Thomas has hit five home runs in 20 games. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 on Sunday, batting .351 (13-for-37) with a double, a triple, four home runs, eight RBIs, 10 runs scored, four walks and one stolen base in that stretch.

“Right now, he’s just seeing the ball really well,” said Martinez. “He’s getting back on time and really trying to stay in the middle of the field and driving the ball. He hit one to center field today, he hit one to right field yesterday. But he’s really staying behind the baseball really well. When he does that, we’ve seen what he can do last year. He’s starting to heat up a little bit, which is awesome.”

Young’s first home run will never get old
Appearing in his 93rd Major League game, center fielder pulled the Nationals ahead with his first career home run in the fifth inning. Young connected on a fastball from Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo and sent it a Statcast-estimated 403 feet to left-center field at 102.4 mph.

“To do it on Father’s Day is a special moment,” Young said. “I texted my dad right when I got in [the clubhouse]. That was pretty cool, it was awesome. It was way up there -- definitely a blackout moment and something you’ll never forget.”

Young, who debuted last Aug. 26, hit six home runs in 112 Minor League games last season. He had not hit a ball further than 378 feet in the Majors. In his last 18 games, he is batting .276.

“The boys went crazy,” said Martinez. “We were joking with him [about] how he ‘crushed it.’ But it was good for him. I could see him when he touched third base, he had a smile from ear to ear.”