MIAMI -- With five days to go until Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Nationals began this four-game weekend series in Miami reckoning with the idea that perhaps there is no turnaround on the horizon to save this disappointing 2018 season. A question that not long ago was easily dismissed by
MIAMI -- With five days to go until Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Nationals began this four-game weekend series in Miami reckoning with the idea that perhaps there is no turnaround on the horizon to save this disappointing 2018 season. A question that not long ago was easily dismissed by those within the organization has now become a reality. Perhaps the Nationals would concede this once promising season and turn into sellers on the trade market.
They did their best to stave off that question on Thursday night, thanks to a three-run seventh-inning rally which catapulted them to a 10-3 win over Miami at Marlins Park. Trea Turner's go-ahead, two-run triple highlighted a night where he went 3-for-6 and finished a double shy of the cycle. A four-run ninth inning turned the game into a blowout, as the Nats combined for eight extra-base hits on the night to climb back to .500 at 51-51.
The Nats responded with a win on a day where they found out Stephen Strasburg was headed to the disabled list, Anthony Rendon went on the paternity list and Daniel Murphy showed up too sore to start the game, although he had a pinch-hit double in the eighth. It was the kind of win that inspires confidence that this team is capable of overcoming their seven-game deficit in the National League East to climb back into playoff contention.
"There's still plenty of confidence in this room," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We haven't put ourselves in an ideal situation. But if we play well the next couple weeks and cut that number in half and get closer, it'll be a fun last month and a half for us."
Miami ambushed left-hander Tommy Milone -- who was called up earlier to start in place of Strasburg -- for three runs in the first inning before Milone settled in. He held the Marlins in check as the Nationals plated runs on solo homers by Turner and Juan Soto in the fourth inning and a run-scoring double by Zimmerman in the sixth to tie the game at 3. From there, the Nats offense took off.
"It was a really good comeback win," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "To see the offense hit the ball like that and score that many [runs] after being down 3-0 in the first inning was really, really good."
Reports surfaced earlier Thursday afternoon that the Nats had started getting a sense of the trade market in case they decided to trade away some of their expiring contracts. For a team that jumped on the relief market a month ago when it acquired Kelvin Herrera from the Royals, it has been an unlikely turn of events.
Perhaps there is still time for Washington to rally, however, considering this game was the start of a stretch of 10 consecutive contests against the Marlins, Mets and Reds. The Nationals have spent the better part of two months searching for the start of that turnaround, and a strong showing this weekend could give their decision-makers confidence to add rather than subtract for the stretch run.
"I don't think anyone thinks six or seven games is too much by any stretch of the imagination," Turner said. "Yeah, it's getting late in the season, but 60 games to make up seven is very doable."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Turner had been mired in a difficult slump of his own for the better half of this month, entering this game with a dismal .328 OPS in his last 13 games. He busted out of it in a big way Thursday, but no hit was bigger than his go-ahead two-run triple into the right-field corner against left-hander Adam Conley.
"I felt like I made a small adjustment today, maybe more of a thought than an adjustment," Turner said. "But it kind of put me in the right spot and I didn't miss as many pitches."
Soto is the first teenager to be intentionally walked twice in a game since Robin Yount in 1975.
HE SAID IT
"For me, it's still trying to win today. Can't do nothing about tomorrow until you get through today. So my message is always clear, let's play good baseball today and win today and worry about tomorrow when it gets here." -- Martinez, before the game on trying to climb out of the deficit
"Any time you get a triple and a homer in the same game, you knock the two hard ones out and that thought comes into your head. Me and [hitting coach Kevin Long] were talking about it. I feel like I got some good pitches to hit, but that's why it's so hard to do. You can get three of them, but it's hard to get that fourth sometimes." -- Turner, on going for the cycle
Although he has not been his usual dominant self, Max Scherzer has still been the Nationals' most consistent starter this season. He will take the mound Friday night at Marlins Park, pitching in a crucial game as Washington attempts to save its season. In two starts against Miami this season, he has not pitched well, with a 5.54 ERA in 13 innings. Right-hander Pablo Lopez will be the opposing pitcher, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.