After being the catalyst in the win on Tuesday night, CJ "Clutch" Abrams was back at it again last night. With the game all tied at one heading into the bottom of the 7th, Abrams singled to left center after a Lane Thomas triple to break the tie and give the Nationals the lead, one they would not surrender. Abrams was also involved in turning four double plays defensively, and nearly a fifth, as the Nationals defense helped Kyle Finnegan secure the save in the 9th inning to win by a score of 2 to 1. Abrams has really stepped up his game lately and emerged as a go-to guy for this team.
The other big story of the night was of course Jake Irvin, the Nationals 20th ranked prospect who made his major league debut last night. Irvin had some jitters early, as with his first career pitch in the major leagues he hit Cubs' Second Baseman Nico Hoerner in the shoulder with a sinker. Hoerner was alright and Irvin was able to settle in a bit, but did struggle with his command a bit, an issue that has bugged him in AAA this season. Irvin threw just 45 of his 81 pitches for strikes and walked 4 batters, but did well to limit the damage as he gave up just 1 run on 2 hits with 3 strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work on the day. He did not get the win or even qualify, but Irvin flashed some potential in his debut and I expect him to stay up with the big club while Chad Kuhl is on the injured list.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
If you had to guess, what do you think the Nationals' biggest issue was in the game?
If you guessed Runners in Scoring Position, you would be correct. Yet again, the Nationals failed consistently with RISP, going just 1 for 7 on the night. The one hit, of course, was thanks to CJ Abrams' bat in the 7th inning. The other Nationals' run was actually on a double play by Dom Smith with nobody out, but that does not qualify as an RBI.
A win is a win, but you cannot consistently expect your pitching staff and bullpen to hold teams to 1 run or less in order to win games. This offense needs to be better about manufacturing runs.
What went right?
- Jake Irvin: He gave the Nationals a competitive start, which is really all we have asked from our staff this season. Just prevent the blow-up starts at all costs and eat some innings, which for the most part, the entire staff has been able to do. Irvin will be able to go deeper into ballgames as he gets stretched out more into the season; he was pulled at 80 pitches in the 5th inning and his season high was 82 pitches in AAA Rochester.
- CJ Abrams: He may not have had 3 hits like he did on Tuesday night, but he had the most important one. Also turning 4 double plays really shows his growing steadiness at shortstop.
- Luis Garcia: not for the reasons you expect, but Luis Garcia walked twice last night, a huge step in the right direction. The Nationals as a team do not walk a lot, but Garcia, Ruiz, Abrams and Robles in particular have been known for their lack of base on balls. Garcia showing a matured approach while batting second consistently over these past few days is a welcome sight.
- Victor Robles, Lane Thomas and Joey Meneses all had 2 hits, which will hopefully break them out of their slumps. Thomas and Meneses have been graded as two of the worst players in baseball this season, according to fWAR.
- Andres Machado: the bullpen pitched well last night, but Machado has been excellent since he has made his return to the team. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings last night and has 3.2 scoreless on the season with a 0.55 WHIP.
Washington Nationals Record: 12-18
When is the next Nationals game?
The Nationals will go for the series win today at 1:05p as Patrick Corbin (1-4, 5.74 ERA) takes the mound for the Nationals after a string of better starts from the lefty. He will be opposed by Cubs' RHP Jameson Taillon (0-2, 4.50 ERA) who is making his return from the injured list. The Nationals will pack up following today's game and hit the road for a west coast swing that starts in Arizona against the Diamondbacks tomorrow night.