It’s been a hell of a couple days for Mark Reynolds! A hero in two important breakthrough wins for the Nationals on Friday and Saturday, Reynolds somehow managed to have an even more eventful day at the park on Sunday. To recap: Reynolds turned the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night into a pinch-hit walk-off dinger, featuring an emphatic bat flip (or perhaps I imagined the bat flip when I was cartwheeling around my living room?):
The very next pitch Reynolds saw, Saturday afternoon, he also turned around for a mammoth dinger, a two-run shot to give the Nationals the early lead:
That dinger was just the warmup for Reynolds’s pristine 5-for-5, 10 RBI night, part of the Nationals’ cathartic 18-4 victory over the woeful Marlins. The 10 runs batted in were a career high for Reynolds, as were the five hits, and the RBI total tied an all-time Nationals record.
For his efforts, Reynolds was rewarded with another start on Sunday, at third base, for the final game of the series. The powerful hitting continued—Reynolds went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a run—but the Marlins rubbed out Washington’s momentum with a whopping 22 hits, including a hilarious 20 singles, and another five walks, en route to a 10-2 victory.
One thing that happens when your pitchers give up 22 hits and five walks in the final game of a series that’s already been settled is the manager starts looking around for position players who might be available to take the rubber and luck their way into an out or two. That’s exactly what happened Sunday afternoon: reliever Ryan Madson, brought on to work the top of the ninth, needed 32 pitches to get two outs, surrendering four hits and four runs along the way; manager Davey Martinez, with the game fully out of reach, knew what to do.
Hell yes! A delightful ending to a brilliant series for a journeyman veteran. This would be Reynolds’s first ever appearance on the mound, and it’s almost certainly the first time a guy made a relief appearance after a 10-RBI game. So how’d he do?
Three pitches, one strike, one soft grounder to the right side, one out. A job well done. If Washington’s starting pitching doesn’t improve, this may not be the last time we see Reynolds take the mound this season. The Nationals bullpen has been getting worn out lately, with Max Scherzer the only Nats starter regularly making it out of the fourth inning, and the team still scrambling to cover for the absence of Stephen Strasburg. But if Reynolds can fling that 74-mph knuckleball and induce a few harmless grounders, another appearance or two might not be the worst thing in the world. Certainly his first appearance jazzed up the end of an otherwise stupid-as-hell July baseball game.