You won't win in this league if you don't have pitching and the Nationals are finding out that they have an emerging star with their young lefty MacKenzie Gore. After Josiah Gray's phenomenal start on Tuesday night that led to the Nats taking game 1 in Queens, MacKenzie Gore had a phenomenal start of his own, striking out 10 Mets over 6 innings en route to a 4 to 1 victory. The performance moved Gore to 3-1 on the season, which accounts for a third of the Nationals victories this season.
Gore has displayed great strikeout stuff over his first few starts with the Nationals, but his overall command has nagged him at times as walks have prevented him from truly having that dominant performance. However, Gore had his command last night, striking out the first batter he faced on just 3 pitches and rolling from there. Gore only had 2 walks in his 6 innings to his 10 strikeouts, tying a career high in Ks.
Offensively, the Nationals went a bit hot and cold. They managed 8 hits coming from 7 different members in the lineup and also added 7 walks, but they struck out 13 times and only went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Alex Call managed a walk and a hit, but also struck out 3 times again, which has been a recent issue for him. Garcia and Robles both went hitless, but managed to walk a combined 3 times as well which is important for their development. The bright spots were CJ Abrams and Jeimer Candelario. Abrams went 2 for 4 with an RBI and Candelario had a big-time Home Run to get the Nationals an important insurance run.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- Strikeouts: The Nationals are not a team that strikeout a lot. In fact, they're at the top of the league in fewest team strikeouts. They may not hit the ball convincingly often, but they do not strikeout. It could be 13 strikeouts was just a bump in the road, but they cannot rely on a gem from their starting pitcher to bail them out.
- Carl Edwards Jr.: He was likely pitching with a bit of rust, but he did not look sharp. Pitching with a one run lead, Edwards walked two batters and had the Mets really threatening. Thankfully, the rest of the bullpen saved him and no damage was done. One issue with relievers going multiple innings is it is less work for the rest of the bullpen. There are 8 guys you need to keep sharp and ready to pitch.
- Runners in Scoring Position: Our old enemy has returned. Although, I am not sure he ever really left. The Nationals' timely hitting is their biggest struggle. They have the baserunners, but they don't have the clutch hitting to really break a game open.
What went right?
- MacKenzie Gore: DAWG
- Hunter Harvey: While Gore did his best to match rotation-mate Josiah Gray, Harvey did his best to match bullpen-mate Mason Thompson. Harvey came in to bail out Carl Edwards Jr. and did so with two straight strikeouts. He came back out for the 8th inning and responded with a 1-2-3 inning, going 5 up, 5 down on the night and earning an ever important hold.
- Kyle Finnegan: I don't know if anyone feels comfortable pitching Kyle Finnegan with a lead in the 9th inning recently, but he did his best to ease those concerns as he had a 1-2-3 9th inning with two strikeouts to earn the save. As a whole, Nationals pitching has been great this series, especially with the swing-and-miss stuff.
- Dom Smith had his first XBH of the season. Go buy a lottery ticket.
Washington Nationals Record: 9-14
When is the next Nationals game?
For the second straight series, the Nationals are bidding for a sweep, and against two division leaders nonetheless. They fell short of their bid to do so in Minnesota on Sunday, but they get another chance tonight against their division rival Mets, and on the road. Trevor Williams will take the mound against his former team looking to secure the sweep. Williams is 1-1 on the season with a 3.38 ERA. He will be opposed by LHP Joey Lucchesi for the Mets, who is 1-0 with a perfect ERA after going 7 scoreless in his lone start this season in a win against the Giants.