WASHINGTON — After a decade in the minors, not even a body blow from a hard-thrown baseball was going to keep Adrian Sanchez from taking another swing.
Sanchez shrugged off a 96 mph sinker to the chest and delivered an RBI single to cap off his impressive performance as the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 9-4 on Saturday. The rookie from Venezuela drove in three runs and made a big defensive play to help Gio Gonzalez get the final out of the seventh inning in a game that featured mostly reserves for both teams.
When a pitch from Mets reliever Jeurys Familia struck Sanchez squarely in the chest as he tried to bunt in the eighth, the 27-year-old remained on the ground for several minutes. Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Sanchez wanted to stay in the game and continue the at-bat and was glad to see him deliver for an important insurance run.
“I would’ve had to bring a truck to pull him off the field because he wanted that at-bat,” Baker said of Sanchez, who wasn’t available for interviews because he was still getting tests. “That picked our team up and it brought the house down, too, because everybody here loves Sanchy and we’re all pulling for him big-time.”
Sanchez was a big part of Washington’s production against New York starter Robert Gsellman (5-6), who allowed six runs (two earned) on nine hits in four innings and was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas afterward. Gsellman’s own fielding error made his numbers look better but put the Mets in a hole.
Gonzalez (13-5) allowed two earned runs on six hits and struck out two in 6 2/3 innings and earned a standing ovation from the crowd as he departed. His only blemishes came on Juan Lagares’ RBI single in the third that scored Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores’ 16th home run in the sixth.
“It’s just trying to lock it in, stay focused, try not to get out of my game and try to do too much,” Gonzalez said. “Every time I go out there I want to try to go deep in the game and save as much arm in the bullpen as possible.”
With only one player starting who was in their opening day lineup, the Nationals also got two RBIs from Adam Lind and a big day from center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who went 3 for 4 with his sixth outfield assist and 11th stolen base of the season.
In his first appearance since May 10 after surgery to repair a blood clot in his right arm, Familia allowed three runs on four hits in a rough eighth inning. Mets manager Terry Collins, who wanted to ease Familia back in a non-save situation, called the right-hander “rusty.”
“What’s the proper rehab? Nobody knows, be it five innings or five appearances or whatever it might be, there’s no guarantees,” Collins said. “It just tells you how hard this league is.”
Familia said he “tried too much” and didn’t have his command. He added that his arm feels 100 percent and he expects to be OK after two more outings.
Mets: OF Yoenis Cespedes went on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring and will be examined Monday in New York. … David Wright (cervical disk herniation) played five innings at third base for Class A St. Lucie and went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. … RHP Matt Harvey (shoulder) tossed 4 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Double-A Binghamton at Portland, allowing five runs (three earned) and five hits. He struck out two, walked one and threw 47 of 72 pitches for strikes. … RHP Noah Syndergaard (torn lat muscle) threw batting practice in Florida.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman was out again after injuring his triceps muscle on a headfirst slide Thursday. Baker expects Zimmerman to play one game during Sunday’s doubleheader. … SS Trea Turner (broken right wrist) and OF Jayson Werth (bruised left foot) continued rehab assignments with Class A Potomac and are close to returning.
Nationals RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 5.61 ERA) makes his second career start against Mets LHP Tommy Milone (1-3, 8.12) in the day game of the split doubleheader. With ace Max Scherzer pushed back to pitch Monday, Washington will start RHP Tanner Roark (10-8, 4.64 ERA) in the night game against RHP Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85), who has been out with a shoulder injury.
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