The Nationals dropped the season opener today against the Braves by a score of 7 to 2. The Nationals kept it close until the 9th inning, when the Braves scored 3 runs off Kyle Finnegan to hammer the door shut.
Patrick Corbin took the loss today, only lasting 3 innings and needing 85 pitches to do so. He didn't get a ton of help from CJ Abrams, who had three errors today (one fielding, two throwing) to go along with a 0-4 performance at the plate in what was a very rough start to the season for him. While 2 of the 4 runs off Corbin were unearned, he still was not particularly sharp as he allowed baserunners each of his three innings and surrendered 7 hits.
Lucas Luetge got the win for the Braves today in relief of Max Fried, who only lasted 3.1 innings himself due to a hamstring injury. Braves' Manager Brian Snitker has already said Fried will miss his next start and the injury will likely require a trip to the Injured List. The Braves would be just fine without Fried, however, as their bullpen combined to go 5.2 innings with 5 different pitchers and only allowing 1 run. The Nationals did manage 8 hits in the game, but frequently failed to capitalize.
Nationals' Game Review
What went wrong?
- RISP: The Nationals were in this game for the large majority of the time, but they really struggled with runners in scoring position. They only managed to go 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position today.
- CJ Abrams' Defense: Three errors proved very costly for the Nats' young shortstop. The first error was a bobbled groundball in the second inning that likely would have resulted in an inning-ending double play. The next error was a rushed throw by Abrams to try and get the speedy Braves' Outfielder Arcia at first. A good throw gets him. The final error came in the 9th inning on a relay from Right Fielder Lane Thomas where Abrams also rushed the throw to try and throw out the runner tagging up and heading to third. The throw got by Third Baseman Jeimer Candelario and went into the Braves' dugout, allowing the 7th Braves' run to score.
- Kyle Finnegan: This one we won't put too much stock into, but Finnegan did not have his best stuff today. He allowed three hits and walked two batters. With a 4-2 ballgame in the 9th, the Nationals need their closer to get the hold there and turn the ball over to the offense.
What went right?
- Joey Meneses: The man picked up right where he left off last season and in the World Baseball Classic. Meneses was responsible for the only hit with Runners in Scoring Position today for the Nationals and finished the day going 2 for 5 with an RBI. Meneses also had a couple of loud outs.
- Keibert Ruiz's Offense: Fresh of the decade long extension, Ruiz flashed a bit with the bat today. While he left 3 runners on base, Ruiz got things going for the Nats in the second inning with a double down the left field line which moved Dom Smith to third, allowing him to score on Alex Call's sac fly. Ruiz follow that up with a single in his next at bat. Even in his outs, Ruiz was productive, moving the runner from second to third in his third at bat with a ground ball to first base and then having a loud out line drive to center field of his own in his final at bat. Good stuff.
- Victor Robles' Defense: There has never been a question about Robles' defensive abilities, but man did he show them off today. Battling the sun that already allowed to pop flies to drop earlier in the game for the Nats' offense, Robles made a very difficult catch to end the inning. Later in the game, he made a patented Robles leaping catch at the wall that garnered a big ovation from the home crowd.
- The Bullpen Bridge: Unfortunately this bullpen is used to short starts from Patrick Corbin, but boy were the prepared. Erasmo Ramirez came into a jam in the 4th inning and while he allowed the one inherited runner to score, he stopped the bleeding there and had a clean 5th inning. He then turned the ball over to Mason Thompson who was fantastic today. Thompson went 2 innings himself, striking out 3, walking none and only allowing one hit. He also threw 18 of his 23 pitches for strikes. Finally, it was Hunter Harvey in the 8th, as he had a clean inning as well only allowing one hit but no walks or runs. If the Nationals bullpen can make the most out of a bad situation like they did today, this team could find itself in ballgames late.
Washington Nationals Record: 0-1
When is the Nationals' next game?
The Nationals are off tomorrow but are back on Saturday afternoon for a 4:05pm start. The pitching matchup will be Josiah Gray for the Nationals against Spencer Strider for the Braves in what should be a very exciting pitching duel. Gray has a career 2.05 ERA against the Braves in 4 starts.