Nationals Series Story vs Phillies
An average crowd of just over 30,000 turned out for a battle for fourth place over the weekend in our nation’s capital. The Washington Nationals won the first game of a three-game set to briefly tie the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East division at 25-32. But the Phillies used eight home runs to win two of the three games. The Nats hit only two homers and are now back in sole possession of fifth place.
GAME 1: NATIONALS 8, Phillies 7
The Nats jumped out to a big early 7-1 lead. But Josiah Gray was not able to keep the Phils at bay. Gray lasted until one out in the sixth inning and surrendered four runs on six hits. He struck out four but walked two and gave up two home runs.
Carl Edwards Jr. relieved Gray but allowed Philadelphia to pull within a run, 7-6. Edwards gave up two runs on three hits and struck out two. Hunter Harvey and Mason Thompson held the Phillies for a combined three outs. With runners on first and second, Davey Martinez called on Kyle Finnegan (W 3-2) for a five-out save. Finnegan gave up a game-tying single that resulted in a tough-luck blown save, his fourth of the year. But Kyle earned the win on a career-high 34 pitches during his 1.2 innings on the mound.
The Nats did not fold after blowing such a large lead. The Nationals went 5-6 with runners in scoring position and several players stood out at the dish. Luis Garcia (2-5, 2 R, HR) homered for the second straight game. Jeimer Candelario (2-4) batted in three runs and scored two. Joey Meneses (2-3) walked and knocked in his 30th run while upping his average to .305. Alex Call went 2 for 3 and scored twice. Call scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to a clutch single from Lane Thomas.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Phillies and Nats sported identical records (25-32) and a share of fourth place in the National League East.
Time of Game: 3:18.
GAME 2: PHILLIES 4, Nats 2
MacKenzie Gore (L, 3-4) got the start for the Nats and never took control of this game. Kyle Schwarber led off the contest with a snap single to right field. The Phillies got a bunch of hits (nine), but just three runs in Gore’s six innings on the mound. MacKenzie struck out six, walked only one, and was particularly effective against the Phillies’ left-handed batters. As Jessica Camerato reported on mlb.com, Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper, and Brandon Marsh went a combined 2 for 9 versus Gore.
After Erasmo Ramirez’ one inning in which he gave up a run, Chad Kuhl pitched two solid innings of no-runs and no hits. The Phillies used a whopping seven pitchers over nine innings – just two of them logged more than one inning. The Phils’ hurlers recorded a win, blown save, three holds, and a save.
Unlike Friday night when the Nats were 5-6 with runners in scoring position, Washington came through once in four tries with men on second and or third base. But like Friday night, the Phillies outhomered Washington (2-1 and 1-0 respectively).
After falling behind 2-0, the Nats tied the score at two on three consecutive hits and some heads up baserunning by Keibert Ruiz in the bottom of the fourth frame. With one out and runners at the corners, CJ Abrams hit into a non-standard double play when he grounded to Philly 1B Drew Ellis. Ellis stepped on first base and then quickly threw to second base for a tag on Ruiz. However, Ruiz got himself into a pickle as he waved Joey Meneses home with the game-tying run before Ruiz was tagged out.
Another baserunning mistake
Alex Call got picked off first base for the last out in the bottom of the fifth. Probably just a coincidence but J.T. Realmuto put the Phillies ahead to stay with a leadoff home run in the top of the sixth.
Time of game: 2:24.
GAME 3: PHILLIES 11, Nationals 3
When one of the highlights for the home team was wearing red “Curly W” uniforms and matching “Curly W” hats, you know it was a long day for DC baseball. In the first inning, Lane Thomas’ fifth outfield assist of the year made the rare “uni” combo look even better for just a little while.
Outside of the 11-3 trouncing, the other number that sticks out after this game was the five homers for the Phillies to just one for the Nats. Starting pitcher Trevor Williams gave up a second inning solo homer to J.T. Realmuto.
In the bottom of the fourth, Joey Meneses crushed a pitch off the bottom half of the “nook” in center field and the ball slithered along the base of the left field wall because of the strange angle. Joey, who isn’t very fast, made it to third base easily for his first career triple. Stone Garrett muscled a 2-2 pitch down the right field line that was enough to score Meneses on a sac fly and tie the game at one.
But Williams was not able to shut down the Phils in the top of the fifth. Drew Ellis’ first home run in a Philly uniform put the visitors back in front 2-1.
Shades of June 2021
Kyle Schwarber walloped his first of two HRs on the day for a three-run shot that increased the lead for Philadelphia to 5-1. Drew Ellis also hit a pair of homers for the Phillies. The Phillies scored three runs in three out of the last four innings to claim the series two games to one after dropping the first game on Friday night.
Trevor Williams (L, 2-4) threw 101 pitches and gave up four runs in 5.2 innings. Williams struck out six but also walked four and gave up two long balls. Andres Machado fared much worse as he got shelled for four runs on two home runs in just one inning. Machado’s ERA is 8.47 over 17 innings in 2023.
Mason Thompson was the only Nat hurler to not give up a home run. Thompson threw a scoreless 1.1 innings as he recorded the last out of the seventh and all three outs in the eighth. In the top of the ninth, Kyle Schwarber hit his second 3-run HR of the game off the Nats fourth pitcher, Thad Ward.
The top five Nats hitters went a combined 2 for 18 with one walk and five strikeouts. The bottom four hitters were 8 for 16 with two strikeouts. Ildemaro Vargas hit his second round-tripper of the season in a meaningless bottom of the ninth.
Time of Game: 2:57.
Record: The Nats fell back to sole possession of fifth place in the NL East with a record of 25-34.
Next Up for the DC9: After an off day on Monday, the surprising second place Arizona Diamondbacks (35-25) stop in for 3 games. The Diamondbacks are 6-4 in their last 10 games and dropped their previous two games to the Atlanta Braves. In early May, the Nats lost a competitive two of three games in Arizona when the Diamondbacks outscored the Nats 19-16 in a wild back-and-forth series. This rematch will be an interesting gauge of how much the Nats have improved in the last month.