The Nationals dropped the third game in the series against Minnesota on Sunday, falling short of their bid to sweep the Twins for their first of the season. After offensive fireworks on Saturday, the cold caught up to the Nationals as they scored a first inning run and then were unable to do anything more afterwards, falling by a score of 3 to 1.
Patrick Corbin took the loss for the Nationals, but he actually delivered yet another quality start as he managed to go 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts. That is back to back quality starts for the veteran lefty and three straight starts that he has at least given the Nationals a chance to win the game. This time Corbin was a victim of the Josiah Gray conundrum where despite a strong performance from the Starting Pitcher, the offense fails to provide any real run support. The Nationals had only 3 hits all game long.
There was not too much of note from this game offensively. The Nationals were able to work 4 walks and struck out only 6 times, but they did not have any convincing at bats. Keibert Ruiz had the lone RBI with a first inning double to score Jeimer Candelario who walked earlier, but then Dom Smith struck out with runners on second and third to end the first. Those were the only two opportunities the Nationals had with runners in scoring position. Garcia, Garrett and Abrams also had walks, and Abrams had a hit which is good to see, but Garcia and Garrett also had two strikeouts each.
The real head-scratcher was in the 5th inning when with CJ Abrams on first base, Victor Robles opted to bunt for a hit. The ball deadened right in front of the catcher Jeffers but in fair territory. Jeffers made a quick throw to second base to get the lead runner in Abrams but the Twins were actually able to turn a double play as Robles was merely jogging down to first base despite his elite speed. It was the kind of low-IQ baserunning we have seen Robles exhibit time and time again in the past, the type we thought we had moved on from. However, now that he has cooled off mightily since his hot start, Robles might be reverting to old habits. He did have this nice double play in CF to get the runner at first base, which included a great deke by Luis Garcia, so I guess that is something:
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- The Bats: Don't have to dig too hard for this one as the Nats seemingly used up all of their offense on Saturday and had little left for Sunday. With the benefit of hindsight, the first inning strikeout by Dom Smith with runners on second and third loomed large. The Nationals, or any team for that matter, won't ever go perfect with runners in scoring position, but for a team as power depleted as the Nationals, they especially need to make those situations count.
- Garcia & Garrett: I actually am not putting too much stock into this, but felt the need to address it. Both of these players are power hitters and will strike out at a slightly above-average rate. That is OK. Plus it was unrealistic to expect Stone Garrett to hit over .500 the entire season. Any overreaction to Sunday's game is unwarranted.
- Jeimer Candelario had an error on a routine groundball, but he's made plenty of spectacular plays already this season that I am not worried.
What went right?
- Patrick Corbin: Credit where credit is due. Over his last three starts he still has a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings pitched, but he's gone 5 innings each time and given up 4 of fewer runs in each start. That is giving your team a chance to win.
- B Team Bullpen: Erasmo Ramirez and Anthony Banda both pitched well on Sunday and in this series, showing just how deep the Nationals bullpen can be.
- Walks: I'm talking about Garcia and Garrett again because I make the rules, but also because it is important for them to show they can still get on base even though they may strike out some, which they both did. Garcia isn't going anywhere, but it does feel as though Stone Garrett is constantly fighting for his life in the majors and it is a ticking clock until he is sent back down to AAA in favor of Corey Dickerson, which would be a huge mistake. Abrams getting on base twice too is also great news, as hopefully and can continue to improve his OBP and ideally leadoff for the Nationals sooner rather than later.
Washington Nationals Record: 7-14
When is the next Nationals game?
The Nationals get yet another off day on Monday, which is there 4th of the month already. They will need to make the most of it, however, as after their day off they embark on a 16 day stretch of playing baseball that includes another west coast trip to face the Diamondbacks and Giants. First, they will travels up to Queens to face the division rival New York Mets for a 3 game set starting on Tuesday. Josiah Gray will take the mound again for the Nationals, hoping both to continue his impressive streak of starts but also that the offense can provide him with just a single run for the first time this season. The Nationals will miss facing old friend Max Scherzer on Tuesday, as he was suspended 10 games for alleged sticky-substance usage when pitching in his last start against the Dodgers last week. The Mets have yet to announce a starter to replace Scherzer for Tuesday's matchup.