Nats Take Two of Three at Rival Mets

In the last week, the Washington Nationals won two straight road series versus good teams (Twins, Mets). In taking the first two games of each series the Nats finished a very productive road trip at 4-2.  The Nats road record now stands at 7-6.  If those numbers sound good, the team’s quality of play was even better. 

Game 1: NATS 5, Mets 0

If Washington Nationals fans were looking for signs of hope after a 7-14 start, this game had several.  On the heels of the NY State Court of Appeals MASN ruling in favor of the Nats, their young rebuilding team played one of their most complete games to date.  The battery mates of Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz, both acquired in the Max Scherzer/ Trea Turner trade in July 2021, were clicking on all cylinders on the mound and at the plate.

The Pitching

Gray and reliever Mason Thompson combined for the shutout.  Josiah clearly found his groove in this contest and pitched great.  He threw two-thirds of his 91 pitches for strikes and earned his first victory. Gray struck out nine batters in six innings, gave up four hits and walked only one.  Josiah also lowered his ERA to a staff-best 2.93. 

After giving up a five-spot to Atlanta on April 1, Gray has given up two runs or less in each of his last four starts. This performance qualified for his second quality start in his last four games.  Gray reached 95 mph on his fast ball and used his cutter effectively.  Gray struck out Starling Marte with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth inning with an 89-mph cutter down and away.  Big.

Thompson was electric during a three-inning save that included four strikeouts.  He threw 22 of his 28 pitches for strikes.  Mason gave up one hit in the three innings and lowered his ERA to 0.96.  Acquired from the San Diego Padres for RHP Daniel Hudson in late July 2021, Thompson has started to come into his own this season.  In nine appearances, he has given up one run in two of them. 

The Hitting

Ruiz went 3-4 with a homer (105 exit velo, 404 feet), walk, and run scored.  Ruiz’ HR put the Nats up 1-0.  Joey Meneses continued his hot hitting: three for five with two RBI.  I liked the way Joey kept his cool when he was called out on strikes with a pitch well out of the strike zone.

Luis Garcia knocked in a pair of runs, but he also left six men on base for the game.  As a team the Nats left a whopping 19 men on base.

But the Nats improved to 8-14.

Time of game: 2:33.

Game 2: NATS 4, Mets 1

The Pitching

MacKenzie Gore kept the good vibrations going on the mound as he recorded his second straight quality start and third of the season.  Gore threw 20 of 25 first pitches for strikes and improved to 3-1.  In six innings, he gave up one run on four hits and struck out ten.

After Carl Edwards struggled in the seventh inning by recording just one out, Hunter Harvey came in and slammed the door.  Harvey went 1.2 innings and struck out three as he got the Nats out of the jam and held the game for Kyle Finnegan.  Kyle Finnegan got the job done in the ninth with two strikeouts to record his fifth save.

The Hitting

At the plate, the Nats doubled the Mets in hits 8-4.  CJ Abrams had two hits and an RBI.  The Nats opened the scoring and took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on singles by Lane Thomas and Abrams.  Jaimer Candelario hit his fourth home run in the seventh to give Washington an insurance run at 3-1.  Alex Call knocked in Victor Robles, who had two steals, to make the final score 4-1.

Time of Game: 2:53.

Nats record improves to 9-14.

At the end of this game, the Nats bullpen ERA ranked ninth in MLB. That ranking wouldn’t hold up through the next game.

Game 3: METS 9, Nationals 8

After striking out 13 and 15 Mets in the first two games of the series respectively, the Nats recorded just five Ks in the series finale. The Mets took their first lead of the entire series in the second inning. 

The Hitting

Alex Call’s second home run of the season, an opposite fielder, tied it at one in the third.  Call finished the game two for four, plus a walk.  After the Nats fell behind, 7-4, CJ Abrams hit his first career grand slam in the eighth inning that briefly put the Nats ahead 8-7.

The Pitching

Starter Trevor Williams and Erasmo Ramirez gave up seven runs and 13 hits between them in six innings.  Hobie Harris pitched a clean sixth inning before Mason Thompson blew his first save and took the loss.   After his stellar three-inning performance on Tuesday, Thompson only managed one third of an inning and gave up two runs that put the Mets back in front for good, 9-8.  Kyle Finnegan stopped any further damage and got the last two outs of the eighth inning for Washington.

Nats fall to 9-15.

Time of game:  2:47.

Up next: The National League leading Pittsburgh Pirates (18-8) roll into town over the weekend.  The Buccos lead the NL Central by 1.5 games over the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Dominic Toto

Blogging about the Nats since 2022. Nats nut since 2004. Once hit a batting practice ball that cleared the infield dirt at Nationals Park. On a fly.

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