The Nationals picked up their first win of the season today, defeating the Atlanta Braves by a score of 4 to 1. The Nationals scored 4 runs in the first inning, which would prove to be all they would need as their pitching was excellent today top to bottom.
MacKenzie Gore got the start for the Nationals today, going 5.1 innings and only allowing 1 run while striking out 6. He left runners on the corners when he departed in the 6th inning after 93 pitches, but Hunter Harvey was able to get the next Braves hitter to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and strand the runners. Gore relied heavily on his fastball today and to good results, topping out at 96.5 mph and averaging 94.7 mph.
Rookie Jared Shuster made his MLB debut for the Braves today, lasting 4.2 innings and giving up 4 runs as he took the loss. Most of the damage to Shuster came in the first inning as Shuster really struggled with command and walked home two runs. He would later settle down, but never fully looked comfortable today as he finished with 5 walks to only 1 strikeout. The Braves bullpen did not allow a hit to the Nationals, as they finished with only the 6 hits off Shuster for the day.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- Offense: While the Nationals had their highest run output yet on this young season, all of their runs came in the first inning and were primarily provided thanks to Braves' rookie Jared Shuster walking home two runs. A single by Dominic Smith and a Luis Garcia sac fly provided the other two runs to give the Nats the only runs they would score on the day. They did not have a hit after the 4th inning.
- Discipline: The Nationals have had a few, albeit minor, instances where they have looked undisciplined today. In the first inning with 2 on and nobody out, Jeimer Candelario had a 3-0 count and swung on a changeup outside that would have been ball four. Candelario walked anyways, but with so many young players on the team, you want your vets leading by example. As an isolated incident, it is not a big deal at all. However, combined will the other small instances of poor situational awareness we've seen, it is becoming something to watch with this team.
What went right?
- Basically everything else.
- MacKenzie Gore looked great in this team debut today. The young lefty went 5.1 innings only allowing 1 run on 3 hits, 4 walks while striking out 6. He struggled with command in certain parts, but was always able to bounce back quickly without letting the damage get too bad. He was able to get several double play balls to escape innings.
- The Defense: Jeimer Candelario has been a revelation by Nationals' 3B standards in recent years. He made several great plays today after showing off the glove already in the first two games of the season. We also saw great plays from Dominic Smith and Luis Garcia as well today.
- Keibert Ruiz also had a moment of great defensive situational awarness. MacKenzie Gore had already walked Ronald Acuña Jr. to start the 5th inning and had fallen behind Matt Olson 2-0 with two fastballs that were not particularly close. Ruiz called time and went out to go talk to the young lefty and settle him down. Gore responded with three straight fastballs for strikes, coming back to strike out Olson.
- The Bullpen: They continue to impress, as today we saw Hunter Harvey, Erasmo Ramirez, Carl Edwards Jr. and Kyle Finnegan. Harvey came on in relief of Gore with runners on the corners and one out. After what appeared to be a blown strike three call, Harvey then got Ozzie Albies to pull a ball to second base for an inning-ending double play. Ramirez follow by throwing 10 pitches, all for strikes in a quick inning. Edwards Jr. looked a little rusty in his season debut, throwing 21 pitches and only 11 for strikes while walking one, but he too was able to get out of the inning cleanly. Finnegan then came on for the save and looked much better than Thursday, going 1-2-3 for the Nationals first win of the season.
Washington Nationals Record: 1-2
When is the Nationals' next game?
The Nationals are back in action tomorrow as they will host the Tampa Bay Rays for a 3 game set. First pitch is set to be at 7:05pm with Trevor Williams taking the mound for the Nationals in his team debut. Drew Rasmussen will oppose him for the Rays. The Rays' right-hander had 11 wins and a 2.84 ERA for Tampa Bay last season.