Right on cue, the Nationals offense exploded on Thursday in the series finale against the Giants. Seemingly once a series, the Nats bats wake up in a big way after going cold in the other games. That game was on Thursday as the Nats erupted for 11 runs on 12 hits, including multiple extra base hits, two of which were homeruns in an 11 to 6 victory.
Sean Manaea took the mound for the Giants and has struggled for the club so far this season. Those struggles continued early as the Nationals rallied for four runs in the second inning, three of which came from the bat of Riley Adams, who got the start in place of Keibert Ruiz.
It was Adams' only hit of the day, but it was a big one. The Nationals also continued to respond in teh third inning as they tacked on four more runs, two of which came from Stone Garrett, who seems to be breaking out of his mini slump over the past week or so.
Arguably the most impressive performance on offense came from the least likely candidate: Ildemaro Vargas. Typically known for his defensive versatily, Vargas had himself a day on offense starting in place of CJ Abrams. Vargas went 3 for 5 with a double and a triple and 3 RBIs, and very nearly added another triple and more RBIs to his total if it weren't for a spectacular catch by Giants' CF Austin Slater. With injuries starting to creep up to players such as Victor Robles and Jeimer Candelario, Ildemaro Vargas showing he is capable of swinging the bat well provides the Nationals with much needed depth.
In total, the bottom third of the Nationals order (Garrett, Vargas, Adams) combined to go 6 for 13 with 8 RBIs, 4 runs scored, a walk and three extra base hits.
That production alone was more than enough for Nationals' starter Josiah Gray, who was great once again on Wednesday. Gray had his best start in terms of innings pitched this season as he went 7 innings on 93 pitches allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts. The strikeouts may have been down a touch from what we'd normally expect in a Gray start, but his ability to pound the strikezone and get outs in-play allowed Gray to go deeper into the game and spare the bullpen a bit. And most importantly, Gray has continued to not allow the homerun ball, which was his Achilles' Heel last season.
Both Thaddeus Ward and Erasmo Ramirez struggled a bit as they closed out the game, each allowing 2 runs to score and a homerun. Ward's ERA has ballooned over the past week to 5.27 and Ramirez's ERA is up to 5.09.
Nevertheless, the Nationals did more than enough to win the game, something they have been doing more of as of late. They are 11-8 in their last 19 games, and are just 2 games behind the Mets and Phillies in the NL East standings.
Washington Nationals Record: 16-21
The Nationals are off on Thursday as they return home from their West Coast trip and prepare for a 4 game set against the New York Mets. MacKenzie Gore will kick things off for the Nationals on Friday night in the series the Nationals will see both Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Gore, however, did pretty well his last time facing off against the Mets.