Nats rookie James Wood looks to continue early success vs. Cards

Sunday marks the completion of Washington Nationals outfielder James Wood’s first week in the majors, and the 21-year-old has impressed so far.

Wood singled in his debut Monday against the New York Mets. On Saturday, game two of four against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, Wood hit a three-run homer — his first in the majors — and added a two-run double in Washington’s 14-6 win.

“He’s been playing really well since he’s been here,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Washington’s top prospect. “I love his at-bats. He’s been very patient. He’s trying to get the ball in the zone, which we’ve talked to him about since Spring Training, so he’s doing well.’

Wood is hitting .304 with four walks, six RBIs and three runs scored and has reached base safely in all six games since being called up.

The Cardinals will send right-hander Kyle Gibson (6-3, 3.88 ERA) against Wood and the Nationals on Sunday. Washington will counter with rookie left-hander DJ Herz (1-2, 4.67).

Gibson tossed seven scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs on June 14 but has struggled since. Last time out, he allowed four runs on five hits — two of them homers — in five innings of a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I felt really good tonight,” Gibson said. “It’s frustrating to look back and know that I probably should’ve been able to go seven innings and save that bullpen a couple guys out there.”

Gibson is 1-3 with an 8.31 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals.

Herz will be making his seventh major league start and first against St. Louis. On Tuesday against the Mets, Herz allowed a run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out 10 without a walk.

After rallying from 5-0 down to win on Friday, the Cardinals couldn’t overcome Saturday’s 9-0 deficit. St. Louis got within 9-4 and 11-5 but couldn’t close the gap against Washington’s bullpen.

Nolan Gorman, who had two hits and two RBIs on Friday, had two doubles and a single in five at-bats on Saturday. He struck out on Saturday with the bases loaded to end the third inning with the Cardinals trailing 9-4, but his production this series has pushed his batting average above .200.

“It looks better and today was a really good day for him,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “He’s been working hard in the mornings and afternoons to transfer it into games. … He’s going to continue to work, but today was a solid day.”

Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado notched his second consecutive multi-hit game on Saturday, going 2-for-4. Over his last 13 games, he is hitting .333 (16-for-48) with four multi-hit efforts, three RBIs and seven runs scored.

St. Louis went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.

The Nationals also got homers from CJ Abrams and Keibert Ruiz, two more members of their youth movement, as they scored a season-high 14 runs.

Abrams, who homered leading off the bottom of the first, is hitting .357 with 11 doubles, a triple, five home runs, 20 RBIs, 16 walks, six stolen bases and 24 runs scored since June 6.

“There’s a good core. And there’s still many more to come,” Martinez said. “This is only the beginning of what we’re trying to do here. I think our future’s really bright.”

–Field Level Media