Nats Do Little Things to Take Down Giants
The Washington Nationals took two of three games at the San Francisco Giants this week and improved to 16-21. The Nats finished a productive road trip 3-3. Washington has won four of their last six series and sport a winning road record of 10-9.
According to Baseball Reference, the Nats have hit 24 home runs on the year. Only the Cleveland Guardians have less with 19. However, the Nats also have the least number of strikeouts for the season (256), 15 fewer than the second lowest team – the New York Mets (281). Curiously, the Nats don’t walk much either. Washington is second to last in number of walks with 99. The Miami Marlins are dead last with just 90 walks. Put all this together and you have a rebuilding ball club that is tied for 10th in all of MLB with a .258 batting average.
GAME 1: NATS 5, Giants 1
The Nationals started the game with four consecutive singles. This small ball style earned the Nats their first run of the game. Washington produced three consecutive two-out RBI hits for a five-run first inning. That’s all they would get, but it was all they needed in support of Jake Irvin.
Irvin pitched a great game in just his second as a pro and won his first game. He pitched 6.1 innings, gave up four hits, no runs, on three walks and five punchouts.
Carl Edwards Jr. made his 15th appearance of the season and got five outs in relief. In the ninth, Andres Machado gave up an opposite field HR to Joc Pederson. But Machado benefited from a clock violation by J.D. Davis for a third “automatic strike” for the first out in the ninth and the Nats defense took it from there.
The Nats infield turned four more double plays. CJ Abrams (1-4, 2 RBI) laid out to his right to catch a line drive to end the game.
Nats improved to 15-20.
Transactions of Note
On May 8, the Nationals placed OF Victor Robles on the 10-day injured list with back spasms retroactive to May 7. The Nats also recalled INF Jake Alu from the minors.
GAME 2: GIANTS 4, Nats 1
Twenty-six-year-old Jake Alu made his MLB debut for Washington. Nats TV broadcaster Bob Carpenter mentioned that Alu became the lowest draft pick to play for the Nats (24th rounder in 2019), but he went 0-4 with three strikeouts and left five men on base. To be fair, Alu faced Giants veteran ace Logan Webb. Alu had company as Lane Thomas also struck out three times for the Nats.
The Nats got their leadoff hitter on base in each of the first four innings but did not score a run until the sixth. But going 1-12 with runners in scoring position ultimately cost the Nationals the game.
Patrick Corbin had to work through another first inning unearned run, but otherwise threw well for DC. Corbin took the loss but brought his ERA below five (4.87). Corbin’s six innings and two earned runs resulted in his fourth quality start in his last five appearances. He limited the collateral damage of giving up eight hits by issuing no walks and striking out three. In the bottom of the fifth, Corbin deflected a line drive off his left cheek and continued to play. (Ovi would be proud).
Dominic Smith went 3-3 plus a walk and had the lone RBI for Washington.
The Nats record dropped to 15-21.
Time of game: 2:22.
The Nats continued to bang out hits (10), but the runs did not follow. That would change in game 3 of the series.
Game 3: NATS 11, Giants 6
Josiah Gray got his third win of the season against five losses, most of which were hard luck. Gray gave up one hit through five innings and the Nats bats staked him to a 9-1 lead. Josiah went seven innings in total, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out three, and walked four. He didn’t give up any HRs and has given up just one home run in his last five starts. Gray lowered his ERA to just under 3.00 with this performance.
Riley Adams, spelling Keibert Ruiz after a night game, delivered the key blow – a three-run home run in the top of the third inning to give the Nats a 4-0 lead.
An inning later, the Nats put up four more runs on a two-run single by Stone Garrett (2-4, BB, 2 RBI, 3R) and a two-run triple by Ildemaro Vargas (3-5, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI), who filled in for CJ Abrams at shortstop.
The Lane Train Rolls On
Lane Thomas (2-5, 2R, RBI) stayed hot and now has an eight-game hitting streak. His fourth home run of the season made it 10-1 Nats. Thomas also had an outfield assist when he nailed Giants LF Blake Sabol who overran first base on a single to right field.
The Nats bullpen had an off day when they could afford it. Thad Ward and Erasmo Ramirez each gave up two runs on two hits in their inning of work. But both relievers now have ERAs above five.
Since the end of April, Dom Smith has raised his average almost 50 points, to .270. In his last 10 games, Smith is batting .387 and has an on-base-percentage of .500.
Fittingly, a dying throw by Vargas was dug out by Smith to end the game.
The Nats improved to 16-21 and finished a productive road trip 3-3.
They have won four of their last six series and sport a winning road record of 10-9.
Next up: A “wrap-around” four-game series hosting the fourth place New York Mets (18-20). The series will start Friday and extend through Monday.