Revamped lineup thriving as Diamondbacks host Nationals
PHOENIX — Defending National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer took a punch to the face Friday. It did not sit well.
And while Scherzer escaped with a no-decision after giving up home runs to the first three Arizona Diamondbacks batters he faced Friday, he was not pleased that he did not give his Washington Nationals a fighting chance while going five innings in the first of a three-game series matching potential playoff teams.
“This is a great start to learn from,” Scherzer said. “They beat me. Sometimes in this game, you get punched in the face. You have to learn from it. There are things I did today you can tell they are keying on. My stuff is still there. There is nothing broken here. I just have to fix some stuff that I am doing, sequencing-wise.
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“They are keying on those locations. I know that. I knew that coming in. I just couldn’t get the ball exactly where I wanted it. When you do that to these type of hitters, they make you pay.”
The Nationals (58-37) rallied from a five-run deficit after two innings to tie the game in the eighth inning before Brandon Drury’s bases-loaded single in the ninth gave the Diamondbacks (56-40) their seventh walk-off victory of the season.
Washington is scheduled to start right-hander Tanner Roark and Arizona is expected to start rookie left-hander Anthony Banda when the power-vs.-power matchup continues Saturday.
The Nationals and Diamondbacks have two of the three best records in the NL, and venue plays a role. Arizona is 34-15 at home, the second-best home record in the majors behind the Dodgers (39-13). Washington has the best road record in the NL at 31-19. Houston is 34-11.
Arizona has won three of four games after losing eight of nine. Since acquiring J.D. Martinez on Tuesday, the Diamondbacks have changed the top of their order to put David Peralta in the leadoff spot ahead of A.J. Pollock. Jake Lamb moved up to third and Paul Goldschmidt was dropped to fourth.
Peralta has had a single, double and homer in each of his two games — he had one day off — in the leadoff spot, and Pollock has four hits, including a home run and four runs. Lamb has three homers and 10 RBIs in three games hitting third. All three homered in the first 10 pitches against Scherzer on Friday.
“You try to say it’s all the same, every spot in the order, but for some reason the two hole seems nice for me,” said Pollock, who was a single short of the cycle Friday and scored the winning run after tripling to lead off the ninth.
“David does a great job anywhere in the lineup. We have good hitters on the team. I don’t think it really matters where you put them, it’s going to be a tough lineup. We’ve had a couple of good games in a row.”
Banda is expected to make his major league debut Saturday after the Diamondbacks were forced to juggle their rotation when Taijuan Walker missed his scheduled start Thursday and went on paternity leave to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Walker is scheduled to make his next start Tuesday. Banda, considered Arizona’s best prospect, is 7-5 with a 5.08 ERA in 18 starts at Triple-A Reno.
Roark (7-6, 4.98 ERA), gave up three unearned runs and four hits in six innings of his last start, a 14-4 victory over Cincinnati. He struck out five.