The entire Nationals team is an enigma.
If you look at almost every single player on this team, they are an enigma themselves too. This team just does not make sense. Sometimes that is good, and sometimes it is not so good.
We saw both on Saturday night in the dessert against the Diamondbacks. MacKenzie Gore took the ball for the Nationals and was enigmatic a bit himself. Typically Gore does not allow much hard contact and lives around the zone, which leads to a lot of swings and misses but also walks. On Saturday, Gore lived very much in the zone and it lead to lots of hits and hard contact, but he only walked one batter in 6 innings of work.
It seems silly to say after a pitcher goes 6 innings allowing just 2 runs while striking out 9, but Gore did not have his best stuff. He allowed 8 hits and also had a wild pitch that led to a run. He also gave up a solo shot to the second batter of the game on a hanging curveball.
What is even more silly to say is that Gore did not have his best stuff and STILL went 6 innings allowing just 2 runs while striking out 9 batters. There was hard contact, but Gore being more in the strikezone is a good thing, not a bad thing.
The Nationals offense was also an enigma. They only scored in two innings in the game, but put up 7 runs. In the 4th inning they went walk, single, single, double, single that scored two runs on Keibert Ruiz's RBI double. In the 9th inning they went homerun, strikeout, groundout, walk, single, single, single, homerun to take the lead. The inning's scoring was bookended by homeruns from Keibert Ruiz and Lane Thomas.
If you're still following along on this enigma rollercoaster, you might wonder what happened that allowed the Diamondbacks to even get to 6 runs?
Well, then there's the enigmas of Carl Edwards Jr. and Mason Thompson. Edwards Jr. is less of an enigma himself, but rather the enigma lies in his usage. He has struggled more often than not, but Davey Martinez continues to elect to use him in high leverage situations. The game was tied 2 to 2 before Edwards allowed a leadoff triple followed by a single to make the score 3 to 2. In the 8th inning, Davey went to Mason Thompson who has A) been able to rest since Tuesday after a long week of pitching and has B) been this team's best reliever all year long.
Do you sense the enigma coming?
Whether it was rust from the days off or wear from previous usage, Mason Thompson struggled. Albeit some of the damage came on infield singles and his defense not being able to make a play behind him, but Thompson allowed 3 runs which ballooned his sparkling ERA to now just a respectable one. Thompson allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and recorded just one out before Thaddeus Ward had to take over to finish the inning.
But the Nats managed to rally in the top of the 9th and take the lead so everything was fine, right??
Well, that's where the game went less enigmatic and more predictable. Kyle Finnegan entered the game with a one run lead in a save situation in the bottom of the 9th. Finnegan has been better as of late, but his innings are typically always high stress. It's been a lot of bending, which made fans wonder when the shoe would drop and Finnegan would be breaking.
That was this game.
On the first pitch of the 9th inning, Finnegan allowed a game tying homerun to Lourdes Guirrel Jr. He then followed it up by allowing a single and a walk, which put the tying run on second. A sac bunt moved the runners over, to which the Nationals elected to intentionally walk the next batter to load the bases and play for the double play ball, which has been their best weapon all season long.
Finnegan unfortunately would not give them the chance, as he walked the next batter which gave the Diamondbacks a walk off walk.
Even typing it out makes no sense. This game went from pitching duel to barn burner to coin flip in a matter of minutes. For those that did watch, I suppose its easier just to pretend the Nats 9th inning rally fell just short and the game ended in the top of the 9th. And while we're doing that, lets just highlight Keibert Ruiz's 3 RBI game.
It was a crazy game for the Nationals and I suppose at the very least the bats woke up. They'll hope they stay awake tomorrow as the Nats will attempt to avoid the sweep.