New-look lineup backs Stras' 9-K start in win

May 12th, 2018

PHOENIX -- The latest incarnation of the Nationals' lineup looks like a keeper after a second straight victory.
, and batted first, second and third in the order for the second game in a row -- and the second time this season -- in the Nationals' 2-1 victory over Arizona on Saturday, contributing to the only runs that needed for his third straight victory.
It was a continuation of a successful 3-1 victory Friday, when Turner and Rendon homered and Harper had a long double.
"I like it right now, I really do," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
"Trea is doing a good job getting on base, getting things going. Harp's Harp. It doesn't matter where you hit him in the lineup. When he gets pitched to, he's dangerous. The key is getting Rendon back. It makes things click a little bit, and Matt [Adams] is hitting the ball really hard."
The change returned Turner to his regular leadoff spot after Harper hit there in his previous nine starts. Rendon hit third for the sixth straight game. He opened the season hitting second in front of Harper before missing three weeks with a toe injury.
The Nationals, the first team to win a series from Arizona this season, got things going early.
Turner singled to lead off the third inning off rookie starter and Harper followed with a double to right field for a 1-0 lead.

After Arizona tied it in its third, singled to open the fourth inning before Turner and Harper drew one-out walks to load the bases. Rendon hit a hard grounder that shortstop Nick Ahmed stopped with a dive to save two runs, but Severino scored on the fielder's choice to make it 2-1.
Strasburg (5-3) took it from there, striking out nine while giving up only an RBI double to A.J. Pollock in 6 2/3 innings. His velocity was in the low-90s in the first inning, but ticked up to his normal mid-to-high-90s range shortly.

Harper had two hits and a walk Saturday, and Turner had a single and two walks. Rendon walked in five plate appearances.
"I like it," Turner said of the new look.
"It's good having us three back-to-back-to-back. I feel like we put together tough at-bats. For me the speed, Bryce obviously the power and Tony is an all-around great hitter. So there's three different kinds of hitting styles. It's tough for pitchers and gives us a chance to put up some runs."
As far as returning to the leadoff spot, Turner said, "I think that is probably where I am most comfortable, because I feel that I know how they are going to pitch me. They don't want to walk me ahead of those guys for the most part. I may get a few more pitches to hit here and there. It's just a matter of trying to be a good hitter."
Harper said nothing changes.
"Just trying to have good at-bats," Harper said. "Our lineup is strong, one through eight, one through nine when [Max] Scherzer is in there, is pretty dang good. If we just keep going up there and having good at-bats and not really worrying about where we are hitting, just doing our thing." 
With runners on first and third one out in the fifth inning, Severino bunted on his own. The ball went right to left-hander T.J. McFarland, whose throw home easily beat . Strasburg struck out to end the inning.
"We talked about it. I told him I really want him to swing the bat," Martinez said. "I'm not going to yell at him. He's just trying to play the game, and I like it."

Strasburg threw 30 fastballs of at least 94 miles an hour, topping out at 96, and the ability to locate that pitch for strikes made his offspeed stuff even more effective. Of his nine strikeouts, six came on third-strike curve balls and another was on a changeup.

Turner was thrown out at the plate attempting to score from third base on Rendon's grounder to shortstop, and the way catcher John Ryan Murphy was stationed in front of the plate, Turner did not have a clear path to the plate. Martinez asked the umpires about a possible replay review, but crew chief Joe West told him that blocking the plate is rarely called on balls in the infield.

"If I am not doing it regularly, there is a different emotional vibe to it. Just to calm yourself down as it is building through the seventh and eighth inning. There is also a sense of security knowing I'm just trying to get his job done today. It takes a lot of the pressure off. At least I reframed it that way. It's like, 'This is just a bonus.'" -- , who was told before the game that he would close because was not available
Right-hander retired the first 18 batters in his last outing in San Diego before broke up the perfect game with a leadoff single in the seventh inning. Hellickson went a season-long 6 2/3 innings and had a season-high eight strikeouts against the Padres. He has 12 1/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts. He opposes at 8:08 p.m. ET at Chase Field on Sunday.