Washington Nationals Game Recap #5 - Nats Explode Then Implode
By Nick Meyers
The Nationals were on the verge of completing what was their most impressive performance of the season on Tuesday night as their lineup rallied for 16 hits against the Tampa Bay Rays. Ultimately, it was not their night as despite pushing across 6 runs for a team season high, the bullpen was not able to close it as Hunter Harvey gave up a run in the 8th and Kyle Finnegan imploded in the 9th, allowing 5 runs to score on 3 home runs. The Nationals would go onto lose 10 to 6.
Chad Kuhl got the start for Washington and he had a rough go of it in the first inning. Kuhl allowed three straight hits to start the game followed by an RBI groundout and a sac fly which had the Rays up 3-0 before most fans even got to their seats or turned on their TVs. Kuhl had a better second inning, but still allowed a solo shot to Jose Siri. It was not looking as though Kuhl was long for the game, but following the Siri home run, Kuhl was able to retire the next 8 Rays batters in a row and 10 of 11 to get through the 5th inning and turn the ball over to the bullpen. His final line was 5 IP allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. A fine job salvaging a rough start.
Rays' Starter Josh Fleming did not have an easy go of it either, as the Nationals got to him early and often, which was a nice change of pace for a team that so far had struggled mightily to get anything going offensively. When it was all said and done for Fleming, he lasted just 3 innings allowing 5 runs on 10 hits, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. The Rays bullpen did a nice job of settling the game, as they went 6 innings in relief and scattered six Nationals hits and one walk for only one additional run allowed. Ryan Thompson got the win for the Rays as he went a scoreless inning in relief in the bottom of the 8th prior to Tampa's epic comeback
Article continues below advertisement.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- RISP: I am not sure if I have ever seen a more empty 16 hits in a single ballgame than what the Nationals did last night. Frankly, it is a disappointment that they did not score at least 10 runs, which ironically is what the Rays finished at on just 10 hits. The Nationals continue to struggle with timely hitting as they were 3 for 16 last night with runners in scoring position. They are now 5 for 39 in that category on the season.
- Kyle Finnegan: I won't be too hard on Finnegan, as he clearly just did not have his stuff last night. He entered with a one run lead and within 4 pitches, he was looking at a one run deficit. The real travesty was how long he had to pitch, as he should have been replaced far sooner in the 9th. Whether the Nationals could have rallied in the bottom of the 9th down one instead of down four, we'll never know. But that is because the manager wouldn't make the call.
- Davey Martinez: I will save most of my thoughts for a separate article, but Davey Martinez has not managed well this season and for most of his Nationals tenure. This team claims they want to be competitive, but instead they will let their pitchers struggle when they clearly do not have it and let a close game get out of hand because he was unwilling to make a change. Both his lineup construction and bullpen management are some of the worst in the league.
- Dom Smith: 0 for 5 night against the Rays lefties. Could have given him the night off with Garcia and Ruiz and put Meneses at 1B and DH'd Stone Garrett or even Keibert Ruiz. But instead, your 4 hitter goes 0 for 5 due to the difficult matchups you put him in. See lineup construction issues above.
What went right?
- Victor Robles & CJ Abrams: A couple of the young guys deserve a lot of credit despite the outcome of the game (which was obviously not their fault). Both players had great at bats and great approaches at the plate, shooting the ball the other way for base hits and really providing a spark to the bottom of the Nationals lineup. Very promising to see from them, and especially from Abrams after his slow start to the year and a lefty on the mound.
- Lane Thomas & Alex Call: A couple of the journeymen outfielders showed out last night too. Combined, Thomas and Call went 6 for 9 with 5 RBIs and a walk. They were the only clutch starters last night as they delivered the timely hitting when it mattered most.
- Luis Garcia: Just a quick shoutout to Luis Garcia as well, as he came off the bench to pinch hit and immediately ripped a double down the RF line, scoring the Nationals 6th run. Good to see the young guy deliver.
Washington Nationals Record: 1-3
When is the Nationals next game?
The Nationals will finally be put out of their misery today at 1:05pm as they will face Rays' Ace and Cy Young Contender Shane McClanahan. The Nationals have not had the most favorable pitching matchups so far this season and McClanahan might be the most difficult of the bunch. The Rays remain undefeated on the season after last night's comeback victory and even more impressive is the fact that they have won each of their five games by 4 or more runs. This one could turn ugly quickly, especially since you have Patrick Corbin on the mound for the Nationals.