The Nationals dropped yet another game by a score of 1 to 0, this time to their Beltway rivals the Baltimore Orioles. The team did not have many runners on base to begin with, but were still 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position, adding to the long line of struggles in the offensive situation. The Nationals also did not draw a single walk for the second time in the past three games.
Josiah Gray got the start on the mound and in familiar fashion, he was great whereas the offense was not. Ironically, the Nationals lost a Josiah Gray start earlier this month in Colorado by a score of 1 to 0. Gray now has 21.2 innings pitched on the season and does not have a single run scored in run support despite his more than respectable 3.74 ERA. He has faced some of the best arms around the league, such as Spencer Strider of the Braves, Kyle Freeland of the Rockies and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, but Gray has more than held his own in those starts and the Orioles' Dean Kremer entered last night with an ERA above 9. It is unacceptable for the Nationals not to provide Gray with any run support. Gray's final line was 5 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, 4 walks with 3 strikeouts.
There was also yet another highly questionable decision by manager Davey Martinez regarding Gray. After completing the 5th on 89 pitches and clearly struggling and battling to do so, Martinez left in Gray to begin the 6th inning despite the clear signs of fatigue. Gray proceeded to walk the first batter and Martinez ended up pulled Gray anyways in favor of Mason Thompson. Why not just start the inning with Thompson and give him a clean inning? The result worked out fine, as Thompson and Keibert Ruiz paired up for a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play, but the process to get there was poor.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- Lineup Construction: I don't want to beat a dead horse, but yet again the lineup construction proved to be an issue. 1 through 3 in the order (Thomas, Smith, Meneses) went 1 for 12 with 6 strikeouts, including each striking out and stranding runners on second and third base to end the third inning. Meanwhile, players like Candelario, Garcia and Garrett all continued to see and hit the ball well. They should be in the top third of the lineup, not the others. Garrett in particular was on the short end of the stick, as he was stuck in the on-deck circle as the game ended with the tying run in scoring position because he was so far down in the lineup, despite hitting over .500 to start the season.
- Situational Awareness: In the third inning, CJ Abrams led off with a single up the middle. With Victor Robles batting, CJ Abrams had a stand up steal of second base with an incredible jump before Victor Robles attempted to bunt and pushed it foul. Robles needs to know to take the pitch in that situation and Abrams would be in scoring position without even needing a bunt.
- No drawn walks: as mentioned before, the Nationals failed to draw a walk for the second time in the past three games. For a team that is so power depleted, they need to develop their game towards working counts and drawing walks as that will really be the only way to consistently get runners on base.
What went right?
- Josiah Gray: It was not his best performance and it still unfortunately goes down as a loss, but Gray battled yet again and got through 5 innings for the 4th straight start - the only Nationals pitched to do so. Gray clearly did not have his best stuff or command, but he was still able to limit the Orioles to just one run.
- Bullpen: The best bullpen is the one that is the most boring to write about and that is what the Nationals did on Tuesday night as Mason Thompson, Carl Edwards Jr. and Erasmo Ramirez combined to pitch 4 innings of 1 hit baseball with no walks and 4 strikeouts.
- Hot Hitters Stay Hot: Candelario, Garcia and Garrett all continued to look good at the plate, contributing for 3 of the Nationals' 5 hits. They also did not have a strikeout among them.
Washington Nationals Record: 5-12
When is the next Nationals game?
The Nationals will look to split the two game set with the Orioles tonight back at Nationals Park. MacKenzie Gore will get the start for the Nationals, entering the contest with a 2-0 record and a 3.00 ERA. The Orioles have not yet announced their starting pitcher for tonight's game, but we are likely to see LHP Cole Irvin, who is 0-2 with a 10.66 ERA thus far this season. The former Athletic last pitched on April 13th against his former team going 4 innings and allowing 6 runs on 5 hits with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.