The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Nationals stick to the script in a 10-1 loss to Trea Turner’s Dodgers

Juan Soto can't make a catch in the fourth inning against the Dodgers on Monday night at Nationals Park. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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After a six-game road swing that took them to Miami and Milwaukee, the Washington Nationals were back at Nationals Park on Monday. Their 10-1 loss followed the same script as most of their home matchups this season.

The visitors, this time the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers featuring old friend Trea Turner, grab an early lead against the Nationals’ starter — in this instance, Joan Adon. Then, Washington can’t catch up. On this rainy night, the Nationals (14-29) didn’t manage their first base runner until César Hernández doubled with one out in the sixth inning, and they scored their lone run on a two-out single by Josh Bell in the ninth.

“After the sixth inning, we were down quite a bit,” Manager Dave Martinez said. “But we made some adjustments; we started hitting the ball a lot better. But it was too late.”

Monday’s loss to open a seven-game homestand brought Washington’s record at Nationals Park to an unsightly 5-16.

Trea Turner returns to Washington, good times in mind and brighter days ahead

Adon was in a jam almost immediately. Mookie Betts singled on his third pitch, and Freddie Freeman followed with a double one pitch later to set up a matchup with Turner, who made his return to Washington on Monday after being traded to the Dodgers in July with fellow franchise icon Max Scherzer.

Turner grounded out to second but brought home Betts, giving him the first of his three RBI and the Dodgers (28-13) a 1-0 lead. An RBI single by Will Smith two batters later made it 2-0.

Adon settled down from there, but self-inflicted mistakes led to extra pitches — and extra runs. He walked Cody Bellinger with two outs in the fourth, and Chris Taylor made him pay with a triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in right field that Juan Soto almost made a play on but couldn’t quite snag. A walk by Gavin Lux and a two-run double by Betts let the Dodgers extend their lead to 5-0.

The same dilemma arose in the fifth: After getting two quick outs, Adon walked Smith. Max Muncy singled, and Bellinger doubled Smith home, ending Adon’s night after 4⅔ innings.

“I think that’s the biggest thing for me: to maintain my consistency,” Adon said through an interpreter. “Sometimes I’m trying to overdo it with my pitches and I lose my line when I land. So just trying to stay consistent with my line to home.”

As the Dodgers added on against the Washington bullpen — including a two-run single from Turner against Austin Voth in the sixth — the Nationals managed just seven hits, five of them singles. The Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson tossed eight scoreless innings and finished by striking out the side in the eighth. Anderson threw an effective change-up that kept the Nationals off balance.

“When you get a guy like that — we talked about [him], they watch video — we just got to make adjustments to get the ball up,” Martinez said. “The biggest thing when you got an off-speed pitch like that — change-up or any breaking balls — we really got to see the ball up.”

Did Martinez make another lineup change? He moved center fielder Lane Thomas into the leadoff spot because Thomas is better against lefties. Thomas had batted leadoff one other time this season in a loss to the San Francisco Giants on April 23. Hernández has been first in every other game but dropped to eighth Monday.

Thomas went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, so it’s unclear whether he’ll get more opportunities there — or whether these recent changes will produce results for an offense that has scored two runs or fewer in eight of its past 11 games. It worked Sunday, when Martinez shifted catcher Keibert Ruiz, who makes contact at a high rate, into the second spot and dropped Soto to third. The change yielded an 8-2 victory in Milwaukee, but Monday’s move didn’t pay off the same way.

How did Daniel Hudson feel about returning to Nationals Park? He called it cool and found it tough to describe his emotions. He was dealt to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline last year; the 35-year-old reliever, who was on the mound for the final out in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, was on the covid-19 injured list when he was dealt, so he didn’t get to say goodbye to members of the organization. Being back gave him a sense of closure.

“I’ve told people this before: I wasn’t in a very good spot personally before I came here,” he said. “I wasn’t really having a lot of fun playing baseball. And this organization, this city, this great group of guys over there, it really kind of reinvigorated it for me. I’ll always be grateful for that. ... I wasn’t quite sure how much longer I was going to play baseball until I got here. So I’ll always be grateful for that, every time I come back here until I retire.”

Why did Soto and Victor Robles get pulled from the game late? Soto was removed in the eighth inning to get some rest, Martinez said, and Robles came in to play center, shifting Thomas to right. But Robles experienced cramping in his right calf between innings, so he was taken out as a precautionary measure and Dee Strange-Gordon played center in the ninth.

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