After the Rain, Gray Shines Again for Nats
Game 1: PIRATES 6, Nats 3
Returning to their home ballpark, the Washington Nationals were unable to maintain the momentum that helped them to a winning four-and-two record during last week’s road trip. The NL leading Pittsburg Pirates swept the Nats by a combined score of 22-4 in the doubleheader on Saturday.
The Nats batting average with runners in scoring position in the first game is all you need to know: two for 13.
Patrick Corbin was decent enough to keep the Nats in the ballgame. But Corbin still gave up solid hits to a third of the batters he faced. Corbin lowered his ERA to 5.74 but fell to 1-4 with the loss. He pitched 5.1 innings and gave up seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
But the Nats bullpen, very reliable last week in the six road games, was just the opposite in this contest. The three relievers that followed Corbin (Carl Edwards, Jr., Thaddeus Ward, and Anthony Banda) were each charged with a run.
At the plate, Luis Garcia had himself a nice game going two for four, including a triple, two runs and a steal. Alex Call and Riley Adams also had two hits apiece, but the Nats bats were lifeless in the seventh through ninth innings.
Time of game: 2:52.
Nats drop to 9-16.
Game 2: PIRATES 16, Nats 1
The highlight of the nightcap for Nationals fans probably wasn’t Dom Smith’s first home run of the year in a meaningless ninth inning at-bat. No, that honor must go to the Pirates’ 33-year-old Drew Maggi. Maggi got his first hit in the majors after grinding in the minor leagues for 13 years. His first hit also resulted in his first RBI in the Show.
The Nats were outhit by the Pirates 17-7. Smith and Joey Meneses each had two hits for the Nationals.
Chad Kuhl (0-2) suffered the loss for Washington. Kuhl allowed eight runs in 3.1 innings and his ERA ballooned to 9.41. Hobie Harris gave up five runs in two innings and his ERA rose to 7.36.
Time of game: 2:52.
Nats fall to 9-17.
Game 3: NATS 7, Pirates 2
Ah, the beauty of daily baseball. Less than 24 hours after getting pummeled the night before, the Nationals came out flying in the series finale on Sunday. The Nationals turned the table and outhit Pittsburgh 15-6. All the Nats runs came in the first three innings and every Nat in the lineup recorded a hit.
On the Mound
Josiah Gray led the way for Washington and earned his second win in a row. He struck out two in a one-two-three first inning. In the top of the third inning, Gray lucked out when Austin Hedges deep fly ball down the left field line missed the foul pole by inches. After issuing two walks in a row, Gray escaped when first baseman Dominic Smith handled a sharp grounder by Jack Suwinski and perfectly led a hustling Gray to the bag.
Gray struck out six Pirates in six innings and gave up one run on three hits and three walks. It was Gray’s second straight quality start and third overall. His last two strikeouts came back-to-back and finished his sixth frame with another one-two-three inning. With the win, Gray improved to 2-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.67.
At the Plate
Joey Meneses’ second four-hit game of the season and second in his last eight games brought his average up to .280. Jaimer Candelario (2-3, 2 RBI, 2 BB) batted in two runs in the Nats first inning. With two outs, Candelario scored Keibert Ruiz (2-4, R, BB) and Meneses (4-5, RBI, R) who singled in front of him. Ruiz raised his batting average to .281.
In the second inning, Luis Garcia (1-5, 2 RBI, R) also singled with two outs and drove in two runs. Meneses then scored Garcia with a ground ball single just to the left of the second base bag. In the third inning, Victor Robles doubled home Smith (1-5, R) and Lane Thomas (1-3, R, BB).
With the help of 30-year-old Andres Machado, the Nats bullpen was able to right the ship. Machado pitched two scoreless innings and gave up one hit and struck out one. Machado was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. The Nationals designated Anthony Banda, the only left-hander in their bullpen, for assignment.
Kyle Finnegan wrapped up the victory in a non-save situation. Finnegan gave up a run on two hits but also struck out two batters.
Time of game: 2:41.
Nats improve to 10-17 overall and 3-11 at home.
Next up: The Chicago Cubs (14-13 in the NL Central) come in for a four-game series Monday through Thursday afternoon. The third place Cubs have lost three straight and seven of their last ten games.