Robles lifts Nats with 'tremendous' night

July 26th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are no strangers to home runs clanging off the foul pole.

Following up Howie Kendrick’s historic shot to right field in the World Series, went yard off the left-field pole on Saturday in the Nats’ second game of the 2020 season, a 9-2 victory over the Yankees. He powered a fastball from right-hander Michael King 366 feet for his first homer of the year.

“Tremendous,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He uplifted us early.”

Robles went 3-for-4 on the night, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. He got started with a second-inning double on a line drive to left field. The center fielder drove in Asdrúbal Cabrera -- who also finished a triple from the cycle -- and Kurt Suzuki, and picked up two RBIs in his first at-bat of the evening.

Robles’ home run came in the fourth frame, when he plated Suzuki again to bump the Nats’ lead to 5-2. Robles singled into left as the leadoff batter in the sixth frame for his final hit of the game.

“They have a tremendous staff, no doubt about it,” he said of the Yankees. “But like I said before, I just go up to my at-bat. I'm looking for a good pitch to hit and make solid contact.”

With four RBIs on Saturday, Robles already topped last season’s best mark of three RBIs in a single game. His career high is five RBIs, reached on Sept. 26, 2018.

“It was a great night for him,” Martinez said. “He can do those kinds of things for us any day. My biggest thing with him, and I tell him all the time, is to be on time when he’s hitting. When he does that, he hits the ball hard.”

Robles’ offensive burst is even more noteworthy because he was not cleared for his first workout of Summer Camp until July 18. Whether or not he would be ready to start on Opening Day on Thursday was in question, and, if he was, how his body would react for the next game. Robles credited the Nats for helping to keep him game-ready while he waited to take the field.

“The team did a great job of maintaining me prepared in any way they could when I was gone,” he said. “Most of all, mentally, I've always been ready to go. I have not thought, ‘Oh, I've missed two weeks.’ I thought the whole time I was ready, and any way I can help the team out, I will.”

That focus is mixed with high energy, too. Robles’ personality shines through when embracing a new in-game celebration -- the motion of playing a trumpet -- inspired by teammate Emilio Bonifácio. With a smile and a swing, Robles is helping to give the Nationals reason to cheer.

“It's something that's just in me,” he said of being energetic. “It's always been in me, just homemade. More so now than ever, we need to do that and help any way I can to create some energy and give them a spark because with no fans, it's a little difficult. But I've got to try to let them know, we're in this fight together and somehow we're going to be fine and get the excitement and energy going.”

This three-game series wraps up Sunday, with lefty Patrick Corbin scheduled to take the mound for the Nats at 1:05 p.m. ET (watch on MLB.TV).