Nats Fail to Break Big Red Machine
Reds Sweep Four Games at Nationals
The Washington Nationals’ struggles at home and against teams with winning records continued. The Cincinnati Reds swept all four games in DC and showed why they are one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Big Red Machine outhomered (7-2) and outran (12-2 steals) the Nats in the series. These statistics also support a troubling season long trend for the Nationals.
GAME 1: REDS 3, Nationals 2
The Reds got out to a 3-0 lead and the Nats offense did not show up. Washington outhit Cincy 8-7 but went 1-9 with runners in scoring position. Despite facing an opposing pitcher (Luke Weaver) whose ERA is close to 7.00, the Nationals’ bats could not do much. Jeimer Candelario hit his twelfth HR and scored both runs for his team.
Another frustrating element to this game was the quality start from Nats pitcher Jake Irvin (L, 1-5). Irvin threw six solid innings and gave up three runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts. The Nats used Jordan Weems, Joe La Sorsa, and Amos Willingham out of the bullpen, and they delivered three shutout innings. Unfortunately, the Cincy bullpen also outdid the home team with four shutout innings.
GAME 2: REDS 8, Nationals 4
On Independence Day, Patrick Corbin (L, 5-10) got crushed for six runs and 10 hits in five innings of work. Corbin also allowed two home runs as his ERA crept up to 5.13. The Reds outhit the Nats by a whopping 16-7 count. On offense, CJ Abrams hit two doubles and scored two runs, but the four-run output couldn’t compete with the Reds potent offense. Cincinnati rookies Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer knocked four hits each.
GAME 3: REDS 9, Nationals 2
The Nats took the early lead in the bottom of the first, but the game still was not close. The losing formula rang very familiar. The Reds pounded out two more home runs to zero for the Nationals. Likewise, Cincinnati swiped four stolen bases to zero for the Nats.
On the mound, Josiah Gray struggled through five innings. Although Gray only allowed three earned runs, the Reds drilled both their home runs off him. The home runs came from an old nemesis (Joey Votto) and a brand new one (Elly De La Cruz); each of them also had three hits in the game.
Joe La Sorsa got pummeled again in middle relief for Washington. He probably will not last long in “the show.” Lane Thomas (.304) continued his good season with two more hits. Corey Dickerson had two hits, but his average remains a disappointing .260.
Manager Davey Martinez tried to rattle the young De La Cruz with an equipment check in the second inning. It backfired.
Game 4: REDS 5, Nationals 4
It looked for a moment like the Nats would win yet another series finale. At least this one went to extra innings. But alas, the Nats blew a late lead. In a change of pace, the Nats stole four bases while the Reds managed just one. Although Washington matched Cincy in the long ball department, the Reds cashed in a two-run dinger in the top of the 10th that provided their winning margin.
Alex Call (1-2, solo HR) and Riley Adams (3-4) shined at the plate for the Nationals. Not surprisingly, Lane Thomas had two more hits and three RBI for Washington.
Hunter Harvey (3-4) took the loss for the Nationals. Harvey gave up one hit and struck out three batters in the tenth inning. But the lone hit was a bomb over the center field wall by Nick Senzel.
A rain delay cut MacKenzie Gore’s start to just 1.1 innings. Gore threw 13 of 17 pitches for strikes. He gave up a hit and struck out one in the short outing. Six Nats relievers gave their team a chance to win. But the Reds stayed red-hot and now own a two-game lead in the NL Central over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Nats record fell to 34-53 as the home doldrums wore on.
Next up for the DC9: The Texas Rangers (51-37), another first-place team, come to the District for three games before the all-start break. It is always a bit nostalgic when the Rangers visit since they played as the Washington Senators from 1961-71.