Washington Nationals Game Recap #39/40 - Abrams Impresses as Nats Split Doubleheader
By Nick Meyers
The Nationals found themselves playing their second doubleheader of the month as rain haulted play on Saturday in the top of the 3rd inning. Play resumed early Sunday afternoon as the Mets immediately tied the game on a sac fly. With both teams having gone to their bullpen due to the rain delay, it was a surprising pitching duel between the Nats and Mets. But it was CJ Abrams that got the Nats' offense going not once, but twice.
With the game tied 1 to 1 in the 4th inning, CJ Abrams singled to right field scoring Jeimer Candelario to break the tie and give the Nationals back the lead. And after the Mets tied the game again in the top of the 7th, Abrams took matters into his own hands to get the lead back once again.
The blast was Abrams' third of the year and one of his hardest hit balls of his career, traveling 107.7 MPH off the bat and into the seats in right-center field. Both of Abrams' hits in the game gave the Nationals the lead, adding to his clutch ability to hit in high leverage situations.
Kyle Finnegan, albeit not the most surehanded while doing so, was able to pitch around two 9th inning hits to secure the save and get the Nats the victory in game 1 by a score of 3 to 2.
The second game of the day found CJ Abrams once again going 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, but the Nationals pitching staff unable to hold the lead. Jake Irvin got the start for the Nationals and pitched pretty well despite what his final numbers indicated. Irvin went 4.2 innings and allowed 6 runs on 6 his with a walk and 6 strikeouts. A couple of weak, unlucky hits were enough to knock him out of the ballgame and Mason Thompson, who started the year so well, was extremely shaky in relief and allowed all of the inherited runners to score, as well as two of his own. The Mets scored all 8 of their runs in the 5th inning, winning by a score of 8 to 2.
In addition to CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia also tallied three hits in the contest as the middle infield duo really provided all of the Nationals life on offense in game 2. Keibert Ruiz, who had two hits in game 1 of the doubleheader, got the second game off as Riley Adams replaced him.
It was a game where one bad inning, a really bad inning, was all it took to sink the Nats against their former star Max Scherzer, who went 5 innings of 1 run baseball against the Nationals. In a 162 game season, these games happen. But it was the manner in which it happened that is concerning.
Mason Thompson's usage has sparked plenty of debate on social media, but the results really speak for themselves.
Now Thompson will tell you he is not injured and is fine, which may be the case, but it does not change the usage numbers and how frequently he was not only asked to pitch, but how many times he was also asked to go multiple innings. The front office and Davey Martinez claim it is mechanical with Thompson, and it may be, but the change stemmed from somewhere and all eyes are pointing towards Thompson's heavy usage in April as the reason for his decline.
Without Thompson on his game, whatever the reason, the Nationals bullpen looks very thin. Perhaps we could see a trip to the injured list for Thompson just for some extended rest while the Nationals could call upon someone like Corey Abbott, who pitched two innings of scoreless relief in game 2 yesterday, or Jordan Weems to fill-in for the time being. It may be in the best interest for everyone as Thompson was nearly on pace to appear in 100 games this season.
The Nationals will go for the series split today against the Mets with Patrick Corbin on the mound (and presumably Keibert Ruiz catching).