Scrappy Nats Bag Snakes in Series Finale
As Kevin Frandsen said at the end of the Nats TV broadcast yesterday afternoon, “This is different. And this is a good different.” These young Nats have their ups and downs, but their ability to shake things off and continue to compete after a brutal loss on Saturday night was on full display in the series finale on Sunday. While still early in the season, the Nats are playing better than 2022. Since improvement was a crucial goal for the club in 2023, this Washington squad is on a solid track, even if the track is not the fastest. The Nats salvaged the last game of the series in Phoenix yesterday with another crazy finish. In doing so, the Nats also boosted their confidence and character for the remainder of the season.
Game 1: D-BACKS 3, Nats 1
After winning three in a row against the Cubs and flying nearly cross country, a little jet lag was expected. The Nats produced one run on four hits in the first game versus the Diamondbacks. The Nats scored in the first inning on a home run by Luis Garcia (2-4, HR, RBI, R). Garcia sliced an opposite field tater just inside the left field foul pole but that would be all the runs they would get for the night.
Josiah Gray (2-5) took the loss for the Nats. Gray went five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. He also struck out six but walked two. Gray gave up an opposite field home to D-backs DH Corbin Carroll in the bottom of the third to tie the game. For Josiah, it was the fifth home run given up on the season. In his seven starts, he has given up three runs or less in six of them.
Things became unglued for Gray in the bottom of the fourth. Following a leadoff single, Gray grabbed a sharp grounder but threw the ball wide of first baseman Dominic Smith. The error put runners on second and third and each came around to score.
The two teams at the bottom of the majors in strikeouts would strikeout a combined total of 20 times in this contest. Twelve by the Nats led by Keibert Ruiz (3) and Joey Meneses (3).
Erasmo Ramirez (2 innings) and Hobie Harris (1 inning) pitched hitless ball for the last three innings for the Nats. But at the plate, the Nats did not record a hit in the last three innings.
The Nats three-game win streak came to an end as they fell to 13-19.
Time of game: 2:12.
Game 2: D-BACKS 8, Nats 7
Things changed after the teams wound up tied after seven innings. In the ninth inning, seven of the game’s 15 runs crossed the plate.
The Nats ran into outs trying to steal twice before getting their first hits of the game in the fourth inning. After going 0 for his prior 17 at-bats, Keibert Ruiz doubled home two runs and the Nats took the lead 2-1.
MacKenzie Gore gave up a home run to Emmanuel Rivera in the first inning. Arizona tied the score on one of two wild pitches issued by Gore. Gore did not factor in the decision after six innings. He gave up two runs on eight hits and struck out nine. Gore’s one walk was a season low.
A strange hop that got past Dominic Smith and turned into a triple victimized Carl Edwards Jr. after he entered the game in the seventh. Mason Thompson had his worst outing of the season. In one third of an inning, Thompson led up three runs on four hits.
Nats Bats Go Cold Late
The Nats did not get a hit in 13 consecutive at-bats and trailed 6-2 entering the top of the ninth. They needed a spark. Keibert Ruiz (2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, R) led off the ninth with his third homer to right field.
Ildemaro Vargas hit a two-run single that scored Alex Call and Michael Chavis. Lane Thomas (2-4, 3B, RBI) then swatted a two-run homer to left center field that gave the Nats the lead at 7-6. (Thomas hit his his third home run of the week and the season.)
The Nats had little time to enjoy the lead as Kyle Finnegan threw one pitch to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who tied the game with a rocket of a home run. The third of Finnegan’s three walks (one intentional) forced in the game-winning run and resulted in the second blown save of the season for Finnegan. Finnegan took the loss and his record fell to 1-2.
Time of game: 2:49.
Nats record dropped to 13-20.
Game 3: NATS 9, D-Backs 8
For the second game in a row, the resilient Nats took a one run lead with a ninth inning home run. This time the slimmest of leads stuck.
Nats radio play-by-play announcer Dave Jageler pointed out in about the seventh inning that the Nats were outhit in home runs for the season by almost 50% (40-21). Joey Meneses (3-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) made that 40-22 with a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the ninth.
On a 100-mph pitch, Hunter Harvey made history with his dad, Bryan Harvey. They became the ninth father-son duo to record a save in the majors.
A score of nine to eight doesn’t conjure up images of great defense, but the Nats made several “leather-iffic” plays in this game.
- Keibert Ruiz threw out his fifth base runner of the season.
- Ruiz also made a nifty sweep tag on a force out attempt that Luis Garcia (3-4, 2B, BB, RBI, R) threw wide of home plate. The improvisation by Ruiz got the out.
- CJ Abrams (2-4, R) caught a short hop for a key force out at second base when Dom Smith threw one in the dirt.
- With the tying run on base, Ildemaro Vargas elevated for a HUGE second out in the ninth inning.
Nationals pitchers issued 11 walks in the game. Trevor Williams logged 4.1 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. Williams struck out five, walked two, and gave up two long balls. Hobie Harris got himself out of a jam in the fifth inning after he walked three batters to load the bases. Thad Ward walked four batters in his 2/3 of an inning. Erasmo Ramirez (2-1) earned the win with 1.1 innings of one-hit ball. Hunter Harvey earned his first save of the season and career with the help of some sparkling defense.
The Nats improved to 14-20 and 8-8 on the road.
Time of Game: 3:18.
Next Up: Tonight in San Francisco (15-18, 4th in NL West) for a three-game series. Over the weekend, the Giants took two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers.