The Nationals dropped another close game against the Guardians on Saturday, losing the series and their seventh out of eight games at Nationals Park. In a back-and-forth game full of opportunities, it was the Guardians who came out on top thanks to a loud home run by Jose Ramirez and a scoreless performance from their bullpen. With a 6-4 victory, Cleveland improves to 9-6 to move within one game of the division-leading Minnesota Twins, whereas the Nationals drop to 4-11 and remain the worst team in the National League.
The Nationals equaled the Guardians with 11 hits but could not reverse the tide after Jose Ramirez took Chad Kuhl deep in the 5th inning. Kuhl surrendered 5 of the Guardians 6 runs and was given the loss in his first decision of the season. His ERA climbed slightly to 8.59, and the Nationals are yet to win any game with Kuhl on the mound.
For the Nationals, the game was defined by missed chances and runners left on base. After rallying to score 3 runs in the bottom of the first, the offense was unable to figure out Guardians pitchers. Zach Plesac allowed four runs over five innings and earned the win, and gave way to Eli Morgan, Eynel De Los Santos, James Karinchak, and Emmanuel Clase who shut Washington down the rest of the way.
Going into the game, the Nationals and Guardians were the two teams with the fewest home runs in MLB. It was another homerless performance from the Nationals offense and another game in which they were outhomered, on the season the team has been outhomered 6 to 21.
Nationals Game Review
What Went Wrong?
Chad Kuhl's pitching, which has looked rough all season. He has walked as many as he has struck out this year, he's really been unable to fool hitters in any way. He looks the part of a strong starting pitcher but the results haven't been there. He has struggled across the board with command issues, allowing hard contact, and being unable to generate whiffs to finish at-bats.
- Victor Robles with a fourth straight 0-hit game and a seventh straight game without a walk. Robles has looked excellent early on, but had a bad one today. He ended the game with 3 runners left on base and led off the bottom of the 9th with a weak bunt groundout to first base.
- Josh Bell's revenge tour continues. It was another multi-XBH game for Bell and he provided a crucial insurance run with an RBI double in the 9th.
- Zero walks drawn as a team made it an easy night for Guardians pitchers.
- A squandered chance in the 8th inning when the tying run made it to third base with one out. Lane Thomas and CJ Abrams struck out to end the inning.
What Went Right?
- Keibert Ruiz led the team with 3 hits, he and the team jumped on Zach Plesac early to take a 3-0 lead.
- Two hits apiece from Luis Garcia and Joey Meneses, who have started the season slowly, was also a positive sign.
- Erasmo Ramirez kept things close with seven efficient outs and only one baserunner allowed.
- Only one strikeout against Plesac and four total for the Nationals. The team has been great at avoiding punchouts this season, but have produced seriously weak results on balls in play.
Overall, it was far from the worst loss for the Nationals this season. The team lacks a player of Jose Ramirez's caliber and that's what made the difference. The back of the Guardians bullpen is fearsome and shut down the Nationals who are still looking for success in their home ballpark.
Washington Nationals Record: 4-11
When is the next Nationals game?
The Nationals look to avoid a sweep today at 1:35 to close out the series against the Guardians. The two team's respective opening day starters face off, with Shane Bieber and his 2.37 ERA taking the hill against Patrick Corbin with a 7.71 ERA. Corbin seeks his second victory of the season after beating the Angels last time out. The best of the Nats' bullpen will be ready to go with an off-day on Monday, and we'll see if the team can hand them a lead as they deal with one of the league's top pitchers in Shane Bieber.