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Lane Thomas homers, Nationals spoil Blake Snell's Giants debut in 8-1 win

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — It all felt pretty strange for Blake Snell.

No spring training with his new team to work out the kinks and finally facing big league hitters for the first time in April — he couldn't wait to get back out there.

Lane Thomas drove in three runs and Washington spoiled Snell's San Francisco debut, beating the Giants 8-1 on Monday night in the opener of the Nationals' week-long stay in the Bay Area.

“Honestly, it was just weird, I'm facing big league hitters I was aware of that,” Snell said. “I was being more careful than I usually would, usually I would just throw it over the plate. ... Then I was really amped up, too, I was really excited to pitch. Bad combination I guess.”

Snell, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who won the NL honor last season with San Diego, agreed to a $62 million, two-year contract March 18. He had been throwing at extended spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, to build up his arm strength.

Still, he likes how the ball is leaving his hand and looks forward to facing his former Rays on Sunday in Tampa Bay.

“There’s a lot going through my head right now but I would just say I was pretty amped up and I was trying to nitpick the zone too much,” Snell said. “I made the bullpen have to cover a lot of innings that they shouldn’t have had to cover.”

Staked to a 1-0 lead on LaMonte Wade Jr.'s RBI double in the first, Snell (0-1) issued consecutive one-out walks in the second. Trey Lipscomb and Luis García Jr. then hit back-to-back RBI singles, and Lipscomb scored as part of a double steal.

Snell was on a pitch count and finished at 72. He gave way to Erik Miller after the third, having allowed three runs and three hits with five strikeouts and a pair of walks.

The left-hander received a warm ovation when he emerged from the dugout and walked out to the center-field bullpen to begin his warmup throws.

"When we signed him it was a big deal," said manager Bob Melvin, Snell's skipper last year with the Padres. “It really kind of energized our clubhouse at spring training. Now the buildup, not ideal, and it's not perfect but it is what it is. But I think in general yes everybody's excited about having him.”

Snell had been 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA and 36 strikeouts over five previous starts against the Nationals, who follow this three-game set with a weekend interleague series across the bay in Oakland.

“At least he's off and running,” Melvin said of Snell. “Not a great game for us all the way around.”

Trevor Williams (2-0) allowed one run and three hits over five innings for Washington.

Thomas connected for his first home run of the year in the fifth, and Ildemaro Vargas contributed a run-scoring double later that inning. In the ninth, Washington added on when Thomas singled and Vargas drew a bases-loaded walk.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: SS CJ Abrams missed his third straight start with a left pinkie injury but went through extensive baseball activity and manager Dave Martinez hoped he would be in the lineup Tuesday. ... 3B Nick Senzel, who fractured his right thumb during batting practice on opening day, was headed to join Double-A Harrisburg to begin a rehab assignment. ... RF Stone Garrett (broken left leg) is close to going on his own rehab stint.

Giants: LF Michael Conforto is dealing with a mildly sore side muscle from Sunday's game and was held out of the lineup as a precaution.

UP NEXT

RHP Josiah Gray (0-2, 14.04 ERA) takes the mound for the Nationals in the middle game of the series opposite Giants LHP Kyle Harrison (1-1, 4.91 ERA).

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB