Washington Nationals Game Recap #19 - The Cold Wakes Up Nats Bats

Washington Nationals v Minnesota Twins
Washington Nationals v Minnesota Twins / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

The Nationals were in the midst of an ugly stretch of offensive baseball, having been shut out entirely during the two game set against the Orioles earlier this week and going the first 6 innings of Friday night's contest against the Twins without scoring a run, bringing their total to 24 straight scoreless innings. On a night with snow flurries filling the air, that finally came to an end when Joey Meneses checked in with his first long ball of the season.

Joey Meneses got on the board for the first time this season and he got the Nationals on the board for the first time in 24 innings. That proved to be the catalyst as the Nats saw a 2-1 score and knew it was theirs for the taking. With two outs in the 8th inning and trailing by one, the Nationals went CJ Abrams double, Lane Thomas RBI single and Keibert Ruiz RBI single to take the lead and give them their first lead all week long.

It was a badly needed get-right game all around and the Nationals finally did not let their starting pitcher down as they did to both Josiah Gray (multiple times) and MacKenzie Gore. Trevor Williams had his best game as a National going 6 innings allowing 2 runs (should have been 1 if not for outfield miscommunication) on 4 hits with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. His ERA now sits at 3.38 and he has gone at least 5 innings in every start this season.

Tyler Mahle pitched very well for the Twins, going 6.1 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits with no walks and 4 strikeouts. Thankfully for the Nats, they were able to get to Twins' reliever Griffin Jax for the two runs needed to take back the lead and they did not give it back from there, winning by a score of 3 to 2.

Nationals Game Review

What went wrong?

  • No Walks on Offense: What I am noticing to be more and more of a recurring theme, this is the 3rd time in the last 5 games that the Nationals did not work a walk on offense. Thankfully for them, they were able to score in other ways last night, but this team lacks power and needs constant baserunners in order to be able to produce on offense.
  • Flipped Production: the usual suspects flipped on Friday night, as the three hitters the Nationals had been getting the most consistent production from (Candelario, Garcia and Garrett) went a combined 0 for 11 with 4 strikeouts. Chalk it up to the cold weather in Minnesota, but hopefully they get right soon.
  • Early Game Offense: now that the Nationals have broken their scoreless streak, they need to get back to scoring runs early and making the opposing starting pitcher labor through innings. Recently every starting pitcher has had their best performance of the season against the Nationals, a trend that needs to change.

What went right?

  • Spread out production: a bit of a rarity for the Nationals, but they have 6 hits from 6 different members of their lineup, which is what they will need to do for sustained success. Joey Meneses had the big breakout with his first home run of the season, but CJ Abrams got the second rally going with a two-out hustle double in the 8th before a Lane Thomas RBI single tied the game. Thomas wisely took second base on the throw home to try and throw out Abrams at the plate, putting himself in scoring position for Keibert Ruiz, who had the lead-taking RBI single to score Thomas.
  • Continued Starting Pitching Success: The Nationals starters have done really well this season, all things considered. Trevor Williams going 6 innings and less than 3 runs gives him his first quality start of the season, but he has been quality each time out and seems to just be getting stretched back out again after spending the last couple seasons as a primary reliever.
  • RISP: They may have only had two runners in scoring position all game long, but the Nationals were 2 for 2 with RISP. Clutch hitting wins games.
  • Double Play Defense: Kyle Finnegan looked like he was heading for another blown save in the 9th, but the Nationals defense had other plans as they turned their MLB leading 22nd double play of the season to end the game and secure the win. Certainly wasn't an inspiring performance from Finnegan, but a save is a save.

Washington Nationals Record: 6-13

When is the next Nationals game?

The Nationals are right back at it today with a 2:10p start against the Twins. Chad Kuhl (0-1, 8.59 ERA) will take the mound for the Nationals as they look to win back-to-back games for only the second time this season. They unfortunately will go up against Twins' Ace Pablo Lopez (1-1, 1.73 ERA). The Nationals are familiar with Lopez as he used to pitch for the division rival Marlins. Lopez has 12 career starts against the Nationals dating back to 2018 and has a career 4.57 ERA against the club, but in 3 starts against the Nats last season, Lopez went 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA. In fact, Lopez is 4-0 against the Nationals with a 2.09 ERA since 2020. The Nationals will look to disrupt that stat on Saturday.