WASHINGTON -- Matt Wieters knows how hard it is to catch shortstop Trea Turner stealing a base. As the Orioles' catcher last season, Wieters was tasked with limiting Turner on the basepaths in three games.Now with the Nationals, Wieters had the luxury of watching Turner wreak havoc on his former
WASHINGTON -- Matt Wieters knows how hard it is to catch shortstop Trea Turner stealing a base. As the Orioles' catcher last season, Wieters was tasked with limiting Turner on the basepaths in three games.
Now with the Nationals, Wieters had the luxury of watching Turner wreak havoc on his former team on Thursday night.
Turner stole a career-high three bases in Washington's 6-1 victory over Baltimore at Nationals Park as the Nats snagged five total bases. He also used his quickness to reach base on three hits, score two runs and make a superb diving play in the field.
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"He's a game changer with his speed," Wieters said. "You have to make your best throw, and it still may not be good enough with him. That's how fast he is."
In 73 games last season, Turner stole 33 bases while slashing .342/.370/.567 as a rookie. As Washington's leadoff hitter this season, the first two numbers have decreased to .270 and .302, as pitchers have changed how they're throwing to him. Still, Wieters said it's tough to get Turner out on line drives and ground balls because of his speed.
With three of Washington's regulars getting a rest on Thursday after a nine-game California road trip, Turner acknowledged the team could have been sluggish, but he set an aggressive tone. After walking in the first inning, he stole second base in 3.69 seconds, per Statcast™, before snagging third. Bryce Harper then sent him home with a single.
In the second inning, Turner led a double steal with Harper to put runners on second and third with one out. He then scored on Adam Lind's sacrifice fly.
"His game is [that of] a leadoff man, to get on base," manager Dusty Baker said. "The guys batting behind him, that makes them more confident. As your leadoff man goes, usually your offense goes."
Turner has stolen 21 bases in 49 games, and his three steals Thursday matched a Nationals single-game record. Washington finished two swipes shy of tying the franchise record for stolen bases in a game, set in 1986.
Turner is also starting to find a rhythm at the plate. He's batting 21-for-59 since May 26 and has hit safely in 11 of his past 13 games; in seven of those, he notched multiple hits.
Thursday proved the Nationals' already potent offense is even more so when Turner gets on base.
"I don't know, really, what you can do other than continue to pick off or hold [him] for an extended period of time," said starting pitcher Joe Ross, who struck out 12 Orioles. "Eventually, he's going to take off, and it's going to be pretty hard to throw him out. Luckily, I don't have that problem. Hopefully, we're on the same team for a while so I don't have to worry about that."
Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.