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Nationals aim to continue strong road play vs. Rockies

Sportsnaut
May 3, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell (19) shatters his bat on a single in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals are swinging hot bats on the road and look to continue that pattern when they face the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night in Denver.

The Nationals have scored in double digits in three of their past four games — all away from home — and lead the majors by averaging 6.7 runs per game on the road. They dominated Colorado in the opener of the three-game set with a 10-2 victory.

Josh Bell smacked a three-run homer and was one of three Nationals to record three hits. Bell is off to a torrid start and ranks third in the National League with a .366 batting average to go along with a team-best 18 RBIs.

“I think it’s just trying to stay simple,” Bell said of his early season success after Tuesday’s triumph. “Realistically, I’m just trying to hit low, hard line drives every at-bat. If the pitch is elevated, then I’ll do damage with it. But if it’s not, I don’t want to bury it into the ground.”

Washington manager Dave Martinez said he likes Bell’s approach at the plate.

“The thing about him right now is, he’s trying to keep everything simple,” Martinez said. “He’s not trying to do too much up there. He’s just trying to put the barrel of the bat on the ball. And he’s swinging the bat really well.”

Bell had plenty of help in the opener as Washington totaled 16 hits. Keibert Ruiz had three hits and three RBIs and Yadiel Hernandez had three hits and drove in two for the Nationals, who have scored 74 runs in 11 road games compared to just 31 over 14 home contests.

Juan Soto launched a solo homer as the Nationals won for the third time in four games following an eight-game losing streak.

Colorado ended a three-game winning streak.

C.J. Cron continued his strong start for the Rockies by going 3-for-3 with a walk and slugging his ninth homer of the season. Cron is tied for the major league lead with Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.

The rest of the Rockies had just four hits as Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde pitched seven strong innings and gave up one run and six hits.

“We couldn’t get the ball on the barrel so that told me he was probably hitting both edges,” said Colorado manager Bud Black, a former big-league pitcher. “We couldn’t get to his stuff. He pitched pretty good.”

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (0-4, 8.69 ERA) takes the mound Wednesday amid a dreadful start to the season.

The 32-year-old Corbin has allowed 28 hits and 13 walks in just 19 2/3 innings. Opposing hitters are batting .329 against him.

Corbin is coming off a solid outing in which he gave up three runs (two earned) and four hits over six innings while losing to the Miami Marlins last Thurday. He struck out a season-high eight and walked two.

Corbin is 10-6 with a 4.71 ERA in 24 starts and one relief appearance against the Rockies. Charlie Blackmon is batting .289 (13 for 45) with one homer, one triple and three doubles against Corbin.

The Rockies are countering with left-hander Austin Gomber (1-2, 3.86), who has pitched six innings in each of his past two starts.

Gomber, 28, recorded his lone victory of the season on April 23 when he blanked the Detroit Tigers on four hits over six innings and struck out a season-best eight. He lost his last outing when he gave up three runs (two earned) and three hits in six innings against the Philadelphia Phillies last Thursday.

Gomber defeated the Nationals in his lone career start against them on Aug. 15, 2018, when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He allowed three hits over six shutout innings.

Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz went 0 for 3 before departing Tuesday’s game with a stiff back. Martinez was unsure if Cruz would be available Wednesday.

–Field Level Media