Washington Nationals Game Recap #14 - Bullpen Does Not Hold

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Game 1
Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Game 1 / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

Washington got a solid start to open the three-game series versus the Cleveland Guardians with a 3-0 lead after the fourth inning. An opposite-field home run by second baseman Luis Garcia and a two-out rbi single by outfielder Alex Call led the Nationals in the fourth inning.

Starting pitcher Trevor Williams lasted five innings, allowing one run while throwing 104 pitches. The one run was on the double misplayed by center fielder Victor Robles, a play he will look back on and regret.

Hunter Harvey relieved Williams in the sixth following consecutive Guardian base hits and induced a double play that scored a run for Cleveland. In the top of the seventh, former National Josh Bell homered on an 0-1 pitch to right-center field to bring the Guardians within a run. Right fielder Will Brennen singled off Harvey in the next at-bat. Hunter would lose his command to Cleveland hitters Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario, walking them both to load the bases. Davey Martinez brought in Carl Edwards Jr. to clean up the mess but instead walked in a run to tie the game at three runs each.

The top of the eighth began with an error by Carl Edwards Jr. on a routine ground ball. Josh Bell then hit a double to right center field, bringing runners to second and third base. With the infield in, Will Brennan grounded softly enough to shortstop CJ Abrams where the only play was to first base, scoring a run to take the lead at 4-3. The Nationals' offense would go silent in the final two innings to drop the first game of the series to Cleveland.

While the bullpen didn't do its job, the Nationals' offense had missed opportunities tonight. Victor Robles came up to the plate with the bases loaded twice and had no runs batted in. The misplay in center field that cost Washington a run looms large in their loss to Cleveland.

Nationals Game Review

What went wrong?

-Bullpen struggles to hold the lead: Hunter Harvey and Carl Edwards Jr. did not have their best command tonight. Trevor Williams threw a solid game for the Nationals tonight and deserved the win. It's becoming a common theme for Washington; starting pitchers aren't getting support. Either from the offense or the bullpen, one of the two is a step behind Washington's starting pitching. The bullpen is viewed as "the best" Washington has had in years, so it's not great to see a lack of control from two valuable arms.

-Defensive miscues: Victor Robles misplayed a flyball that turned into a double while Washington was ahead of Cleveland, 3-0. It led to a run for the Guardians, and the Nationals lost the game by one, do the math there. Carl Edwards Jr. also had an error in the top of the eighth that was not pretty to watch, misplaying a softly hit ball back to the mound. Defensive miscues in close games always come back to hurt teams at the end of games. Tonight it did for Washington.

What went right?

-Luis Garcia: The first home run of the season is key for any player, but walking twice in a game might be more valuable for the Nationals' second baseman. The 22-year-old struggled with patience at the plate last season and looks more comfortable with each at-bat. Luis launched his home run into the opposite field in the red seats, a difficult task for left-handed hitters. He ended up 2-3 with two walks on the night, a positive sign moving forward for the young second baseman.

-Trevor Williams: The first-year National is throwing the ball well for Washington. Williams lowered his ERA to 3.52 through 15.1 innings this season. He's doing what he was brought in to do; eat innings. Consistency throughout the season from starting pitchers is imperative to Washington's success this season, and Williams will play a role in it.

Washington Nationals Record: 4-10

When is the next Nationals Game?

The second game of the series versus the Guardians starts at 4:10 on Saturday. Zach Plesac (0-0, 9.00 ERA) takes the mound for Cleveland as Chad Kuhl (0-0, 8.10 ERA) gets the start for the Nationals. Washington needs a complete game tomorrow, as in a well-played game in all aspects. Batting, pitching, and defensive execution in the same game are a recipe for success. We'll see if the Nationals can bounce back tomorrow versus the Guardians.