WASHINGTON — Will Smith drove in six runs with a home run and two doubles in his first start since returning from Triple-A, leading the Dodgers to a 9-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday afternoon.
Smith was recalled from Oklahoma City on Friday with promises of “a good runway” to become the Dodgers’ primary starter at catcher. He did not play Friday but hit a solo home run in his first at-bat Saturday, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to the center-field wall in his second at-bat then hit an RBI double his third time up.
In the seventh inning, he came up with the bases loaded and missed a grand slam by a few feet, lining a three-run double off the wall in left-center field as the Dodgers broke the game open.
Smith’s home run was the first by a Dodgers catcher since Barnes on June 20 (Smith hit a home run as a pinch-hitter on June 23). And his six RBIs are the most by a Dodgers catcher since Barnes drove in seven at San Diego on June 30, 2017.
He is the first Dodgers rookie with six RBIs in a game since James Loney had a nine-RBI game on Sept. 28, 2006. Only two other rookie catchers have had six RBIs in a game for the Dodgers, both with Brooklyn – Bernie Hungling (April 16, 1922) and Al Lopez (August 13, 1930).
Between his start June 26 (after which Smith was sent back to OKC) and Saturday, Dodgers catchers (Barnes and Russell Martin) had a combined total of three extra-base hits and eight RBIs.
Corey Seager also had two hits, including an RBI double, and Max Muncy scored three runs after two singles and a walk as the Dodgers feasted on a diminished Nationals pitching staff.
Former UCLA left-hander Matt Grace gave the Nats two perfect innings as the “opener” before Joe Ross replaced him and was battered by the Dodgers hitters for seven runs on nine hits over the next five innings.
That gave Clayton Kershaw a comfortable cushion after a rough first inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Trea Turner and a triple to Adam Eaton who scored on a sacrifice fly.
That was the extent of the Nationals’ offense against Kershaw, who allowed just one more hit in his six innings. The Nats didn’t get another runner past first base against Kershaw until he issued back-to-back two-out walks in the sixth inning.