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Nationals look to stay hot in rematch vs. Rockies

The Washington Nationals are teeming with youth but they aren’t playing like a young team.

Washington improved to 10-3 since June 7 after opening a nine-game road trip with an 11-5 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night in Denver.

The Nationals will have a chance to win the three-game series on Saturday when lefty Mitchell Parker (5-3, 3.06 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Cal Quantrill (6-5, 3.43).

Parker, who has never faced the Rockies, is the second straight rookie arm manager Dave Martinez is using in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Martinez hopes Parker can fare better than DJ Herz, who was chased before the end of the fourth inning on Friday after he gave up four runs on seven hits.

Fortunately for the Nationals, their bats were going against Colorado. They racked up a season-high 19 hits and had more runs in the first four innings than they did in the just-completed three-game series against Arizona.

Lane Thomas continued his hot stretch with three hits and four RBIs but didn’t have a homer, which was a mild surprise considering he had hit four in his previous six games. He barely missed one in the sixth inning and had to settle for a triple on a drive to the wall in left field.

Thomas wasn’t the only one running the bases. Washington had a season-high 10 extra-base hits Friday night and backed up what Martinez said about his team’s formula for success.

“That’s the key for us. We have to have consistent at-bats and stretch out the game a little bit more,” he said. “We’ve got to get some length in our innings and try to get some guys on base and knock them around.”

Opponents have knocked around the Rockies on this 10-game homestand, scoring a total of 59 runs in the first eight games. Colorado will have a losing record on its longest homestand of the season but can gain some momentum by taking the next two games from the Nationals.

That will begin with Quantrill, who arguably has been the Rockies’ most consistent starter. He is 6-2 since the beginning of May and has failed to pitch at least five innings only twice in his 15 outings this year.

He has faced Washington once in his career and received a no-decision when he allowed three runs in six innings on April 14, 2023.

Quantrill won’t have outfielder Charlie Blackmon in the lineup to help him on Saturday night. Blackmon (right hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday.

Jake Cave has filled that role this week. He has become more assertive as his first year with the Rockies has progressed.

“He does things to help a team win,” manager Bud Black said. “When younger players see how he plays, they can model themselves after that type of at-bat that he gives late in the game. Without even knowing it, he’s teaching.”

–Field Level Media

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