Washington Nationals: Offense And The Bullpen Lead To A Heartbreaking Series Loss

Brad Hand #52 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning of the MLB game at Nationals Park on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Brad Hand #52 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning of the MLB game at Nationals Park on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Washington’s rough start to the season continued in New York.

Washington’s three-game series with the New York Yankees was a back and forth affair that saw plenty of lead changes and late-inning heroics. Unfortunately, it was the Yankees who provided the big hits when it mattered. After Washington won game one 11-4, the Yankees took the next two, thanks to walk-off hits by Gleybor Torres and Giancarlo Stanton.

Game one saw the Nationals offense come alive, with homers by Josh Bell, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, and Juan Soto. But whenever Washington’s offense explodes, they follow it up with lackluster performances. This was the case once again.

In game two, Max Scherzer threw an absolute gem. He went 7.1 innings, allowing one run while striking out 14. This marked the 100th time in his career he struck out 10 plus. Scherzer put Washington in prime position to win the series, but the bullpen had its first major meltdown of the season.

Leading 2-1 in the ninth, Brad Hand came in to close it out. At the time, he had recorded 24 saves in a row, but alas, all good things come to an end. A leadoff walk started off the Yankee’s comeback. Hand then got Stanton to ground out before back-to-back singles tied the game.

In the tenth inning, Washington took advantage of the extra-inning rule of a runner starting on second and went up 3-2. Hand stayed in to start the tenth, but a leadoff single tied the game at three apiece. Washington’s offense went down in order in the 11th, before the Yankees walked them off.

The Nationals offense recorded eight hits, but went 3-11 with RISP. The rubber match saw a similar outcome. Joe Ross kept Washington in the game, allowing only two runs across five innings. Kyle Schwarber tied the game in the sixth inning with a two-run bomb. But the deeper the game went, the more the offense struggled.

With Daniel Hudson available, Manager Dave Martinez decided to give Brad Hand another chance. But for the second game in a row, Hand came up short allowing the game winning hit to Giancarlo Stanton. The offense once again recorded eight hits, but only went 1-4 with RISP.

While the offense continued to be a problem, this time around, Washington was doomed thanks to an excessive amount of walks. Nationals pitchers walked 10 runners (one was intentional), which is never the recipe for success. Most notably, Brad Hand started off the ninth inning with back-to-back walks and was unable to recover.

The Nationals have now lost five of their last ten and are in last place in the NL East, 3.5 games behind the Mets.

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