ATLANTA — A starting pitcher who started the season in Triple-A, a third baseman who hadn’t homered since last July and a team offense that had struggled to produce runs. Add it all up, and that was the equation for the Nationals’ 11-2 victory over the defending World Series champion Braves on Monday at Truist Park.
When the Nationals moved to rotation candidate Josh Rogers in Rochester last Tuesday after their final spring training game, manager Dave Martinez expressed the potential temporary nature of the move.
“We want to make sure that if something happens to one of our starters, we have viable options,” Martinez said in West Palm Beach, Fla. “He is definitely one of them, if not the first.”
The next day, starting right-hander Aníbal Sánchez began to experience a stiff neck after being robbed from camp in Washington, D.C., throwing his planned season debut at Truist Park into question. On Monday, Sánchez was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a cervical nerve impingement, and Rogers was recalled from the Red Wings to start against the Braves without appearing in a Minor League game.
“Guess I can tell him I’m a man of my word, huh?” Martinez said before the game. “I can’t wait to see him come out and compete. As we all know, it is very intense. He likes to go out and compete. I’m glad he’s back.
Rogers delivered the Nationals’ longest outing of the season: 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts on 74 pitches (46 strikes). After allowing an RBI single to Marcell Ozuna in the first inning, Rogers struck out the next 10 batters, including three consecutive 1-2-3 frames.
With the Atlanta bats quieted down, Rogers got a teammate assist with a five-run third inning in the Nats’ highest-scoring game since Aug. 17, 2021. In his pursuit of a turnaround season, Maikel Franco went 4-for-5 with five RBIs and his first homer of the year. Lane Thomas, who started in center field, also added a trio of RBIs.
The Nats beat the Braves, 15-4, as the bullpen of Víctor Arano, Hunter Harvey and Patrick Murphy held them scoreless. This, an encouraging sign a day after relievers Steve Cishek, Sean Doolittle, Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey ended the Mets offense in a 4-2 win.