Rougned Deals Nats Rough Series Loss
Game 1: PADRES 7, Nats 4
MacKenzie Gore’s struggles against lefties continued. Seven of the first eight left-handed batters he faced reached base, including three walks to Padres 1B Jake Cronenworth. Incredibly, lefties are batting .472 against Gore this season while righties are hitting .215 against him.
In terms of ERA, the split is just as unbalanced, 4.35 against lefties and just 1.11 versus righties. As Nats radio voice Dave Jageler proclaimed last night, “This has to be fixed.”
In a matchup of players traded for each other less than a year ago, Juan Soto hit a first-pitch single in the first inning off Gore. The next better Xander Bogaerts hit a 2-run HR and the Padres were out in front early, 2-0. Gore surrendered another home run in the top of the fourth to extend the San Diego lead to 3-0.
Gore lasted 4.2 innings and gave up 3 runs on two homers. He struck out five but walked four and allowed seven hits. Andres Machado struck out the only batter he faced in the fifth to strand both inherited runners.
Soto homered off his former team. So did CJ Abrams. Abrams’ fifth home run of the season, a 2-run blast to the upper deck in right field, got the Nats right back in the game. The next batter, Lane Thomas (2-4), also homered for the equalizer against Yu Darvish. It was the seventh homer of the season for Thomas, all in the merry month of May.
San Diego retook the lead in the top of the sixth when Dominic Smith mistakenly cut off a great targeted throw home by Lane Thomas. Erasmo Ramirez (L, 2-2) got lit up for four runs on four hits in his one inning of work as the Padres took a 7-3 lead.
At the dish, Thomas, Luis Garcia, and Smith had two hits apiece – all singles.
Mason Thompson pitched a clean seventh inning and Chad Kuhl, activated from the 15-day injured list, threw the last two scoreless innings for Washington. In a corresponding move, RHP Hobie Harris was optioned to Rochester.
Game 2: NATS 5, Padres 3
Trevor Williams came within one out of a quality start, but it was good enough for the Nationals to take the second game of the series from San Diego. Williams (2-2) earned the win with 5.2 innings and gave up three runs on three hits. He struck out three, but also walked three and gave up two long balls. The Nats are now 6-4 in Williams ten starts this season, so he is giving his team a chance to win most games.
The Nats relievers and some solid defense shut out the lights on the Padres. Carl Edwards Jr. and Hunter Harvey each earned their ninth holds in a combined 2.1 scoreless innings. During the seventh inning Edwards’ cat-quick reflexes saved his neck from a screaming liner right back at him. Also in the seventh, Jeimer Candelario expertly bare-handed a grounder to just nip speedy Fernando Tatis Jr. to end the frame.
Kyle Finnegan earned his 10th save in a 1-2-3 ninth inning in which he threw 10 of his 13 pitches for strikes.
After enduring a 3-37 stretch, Alex Call (2-4, 2 RBI, 2R) doubled home two runs to extend the Nats lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the second. The Nats produced four hits on six pitches during a four-run second. The first run scored on an RBI single by Keibert Ruiz (1-4). The last was plated by a Luis Garcia sac fly. Dom Smith had two hits and scored a run on four at-bats. Joey Meneses raked his team-leading 57th hit up the middle in the first but was left stranded.
On the Nats TV broadcast, color analyst Kevin Frandsen noted that Lane Thomas (1-4) is 10-13 on the first pitch thrown by lefthanded pitchers this season. (Here’s hoping opposing team scouts didn’t hear that).
Continuing an early season trend, the Padres hit two home runs to zero for the Nats. But Washington outhit San Diego by a 9-4 margin.
Game 3: PADRES 8, Nats 6
On a day that was more like classic San Diego weather, the Nats let the rubber game slip away in crushing fashion.
Jake Irvin pitched better than his prior outing, despite walking three batters in a row in the top of the third inning. Irvin lasted four innings and gave up two runs on four walks to just two hits. He also struck out four but gave up a 2-run home run to Trent Grisham in the top of the second.
The Nats used five relievers. The first (Andres Machado) and the last (Hunter Harvey) each gave up three runs on three hits in one inning of work. The Padres took a 5-1 lead during Machado’s inning.
Joey Meneses’ first inning RBI single tied him with C.J. Abrams and Lane Thomas for the team lead with 25 RBI.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Nats used seven hits in a row on their way to scoring five runs in the frame to take a 6-5 lead. Six of the seven hits were singles and the Nats had yet to make an out. Following an Abrams pop-out, Lane Thomas flew out to San Diego SS Xander Bogaerts. On a wild pitch while Luis Garcia was batting, Alex Call sprinted home. But an incredible diving lunge tag by Padres catcher Brett Sullivan nipped Call on the back of his right cleat and ended the Nats inning still leading by only a run.
More Ninth Inning Heartbreak
Kyle Finnegan came up huge with his third hold in the eighth inning. Harvey (2-2, 3.86) blew his fourth save and took the loss after he gave up a two-out three run home run to Rougned Odor in the ninth inning. Harvey gave up two singles to start the frame. But he rebounded with two strikeouts to bring the crowd to its feet as they awaited the potential game clinching out which never came.
Time of game: 3:19
The Nats record fell to 21-29.
Up Next for the DC9: Kansas City for a three-game weekend series against the fifth place Royals (15-36). Only the 10-42 Oakland A’s have a worse record.