Nats Unable to Fully Flush Royals
The Washington Nationals made their first trip to Kansas City since 2016. But after winning the first two games, the Nats could not complete the sweep.
Game 1: NATS 12, Royals 10
Lane Thomas led off the game with his eighth home run of the month and extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Patrick Corbin has also had a good month. Corbin walked only one batter in May before this start. But he walked his first batter of the game. Corbin walked another in the first inning but got out of the frame unscathed. He finished with 108 pitches in 6.1 innings but allowed six runs on seven hits and four walks.
The Nats scored eight runs in a very busy sixth inning and led 9-2. Corey Dickerson’s second home run of the year (a 3-run shot and career hit #999) put the Nats up 5-2. Luis Garcia (3 R) had two doubles in the inning for DC. Garcia smacked six (6!) hits in the contest. Not since Anthony Rendon’s monster game vs the Mets in May of 2018 has a Nationals player recorded six hits in a game.
Joey Meneses was 3-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Meneses now has 23 hits with runners in scoring position. As of this writing, only the Rangers’ Marcus Semien has more (25) in the major leagues.
The Royals climbed back in the game with one run in the fifth inning and five runs in the seventh making the score 9-8 in favor of the Nationals. A two-run triple by Jeimer Candelario answered the bell for Washington and put them back up by three runs, 11-8 in the eighth.
In relief of Corbin, Erasmo Ramirez was unable to get an out and allowed all three inherited runners to score. Ramirez also gave up two runs of his own. Carl Edwards Jr. didn’t fare much better, but he held the lead as he allowed two more runs in one inning of work.
Chad Kuhl pitched a clutch 1.2 innings to earn his first major league save.
Time of game: 3:12.
GAME 2: NATS 4, Royals 2
Salvatore Perez hit his ninth home run in the month of May (sorry, Lane Thomas) and gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning.
The Nats didn’t have a hit until Jeimer Candelario’s fifteenth double of the year in the top of the fourth. Corey Dickerson’s 1,000th career hit doubled home Jeimer Candelario (2-4, R, BB, K) with the Nats’ first run in the top of the sixth. Keibert Ruiz (1-3) followed with an RBI single grounded sharply up the middle to knock in Dickerson and tied the score at 2-2. Facing a southpaw, Nats lefty CJ Abrams (1-4) then cracked a two-run double over the head of Royals RF MJ Melendez to complete the four-run sixth inning and put the Nats out in front, 4-2.
Josiah Gray struggled with his control in the matinee- when his performance lacks compared to night games. Gray issued three walks and a wild pitch. He threw 91 pitches in four innings and gave up two runs on four hits.
The Nats used four relievers who combined to throw five innings of shutout ball while giving up a total of three hits. Mason Thompson (3-2) earned the win with an efficient two scoreless innings of relief on a total of 19 pitches. Thompson allowed one hit and struck out one. Carl Edwards Jr. and Hunter Harvey earned holds for their work in the seventh and eighth innings. Kyle Finnegan struck out two in a one-hit ninth for his eleventh save in thirteen attempts.
The win clinched the three-game series in favor of Washington. The Royals were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. The Nats were 2 for 15 w/RISP and left ten men on base. Unfortunately, for Washington, that trend would continue in the third and final game of the series.
Time of game: 2:52.
Game 3: ROYALS 3, Nats 2
The Nationals left 11 men on base and were 2-12 with runners in scoring position.
MacKenzie Gore enjoyed the best start of his young career but had nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Gore completed seven innings and struck out 11 while giving up three hits and only one walk. However, Gore yielded another home run (3) to a left-handed batter. The very encouraging performance by Gore was wasted by the Nats ineptitude with runners in scoring position.
The Nats took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Ildemaro Vargas and Michael Chavis.
In the bottom of the eighth frame, the Nats loaded the bases with one out against Royals reliever Aroldis Chapman. The Nats came up empty after a strike out by Riley Adams and a popup by Alex Call.
Early Season MVP
Joey Meneses’ .295 batting average is good for ninth place in the National League. Lane Thomas opened the game with a double and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Thomas also reached base for the 24th consecutive game. The “Lane Train” (.287, 8 HR, 10 2B, 26 RBI, 4 SB) gets my early season team MVP vote narrowly over Meneses.
MJ Melendez tagged Gore for a home run to cut the Nats lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kansas City pushed across a run in each of the next two innings to win the game in walk-off fashion.
In the KC eighth, Edward Olivares homered off Chad Kuhl to tie the game at two.
Uncharacteristically, Dom Smith (2-3, BB, R) erred on a leadoff grounder in the bottom of the ninth by Melendez. The next batter singled to right field in front of Lane Thomas. Game over.
Chad Kuhl (0-3) took the hard-luck loss, but he blew a save opportunity two days after earning his first save in the majors.
Time of Game: 2:35.
Nats record dropped to 23-30.
Up Next for the DC9: A trip to the National League side of Los Angeles for a three-game series against the first place Dodgers (32-22). The Nats are 5-5 in their last ten games, while LA is 4-6. However, the Dodgers have a +50 run differential to the Nationals’ -21.