The Nationals came into Sunday's game with a decent chance to take two out of three games from Philadelphia, but they fell 11-3 despite a decent start by Trevor Williams. For the second game in a row, the single-hitting Nationals were unable to string enough hits together to produce the amount of runs necessary to keep themselves in the game.
The team's sole run in the first eight innings came following a stand-up triple by Joey Meneses on a hard-contact shot that looked like a homer off the bat. This hit was a welcome sight for fans as Meneses, though hitting above .300, has struggled to rack up extra base hits so far this season. He was driven in via sacrifice fly on the next at-bat by Stone Garrett.
On the defensive side, the Nationals were limited by both the home run ball and their inability to get outs on balls hit on the infield. JT Realmuto launched a solo homer to put his team ahead in the 2nd inning and first baseman Drew Ellis hit a pair of long balls. His first put the Phillies on top after Meneses tied the game and hit second, a two-run shot, put the game well out of reach in the 7th.
The biggest home run damage, though, was done by Kyle Schwarber. In the sixth inning, after recording two strikeouts and surrendering a walk to Brandon Marsh, Trevor Williams got the ground ball he needed to end the inning. However, the Ildemaro Vargas was unable to make the play and Williams was removed from the game rather than facing Schwarber for a third time. Vargas, playing shortstop on CJ Abrams' day off, looked sluggish all game. He allowed an infield single and committed one error on a botched double play ball in the 5th, adding to the team's defensive woes at the shortstop position.
Williams' pitch count had exceeded 100 pitches, but he had struck out Schwarber in both of his previous at bats. Davey Martinez's choice to pull him was understandable, but it did not turn out well. Andres Machado entered the game in relief and promptly gave up a 391 footer, turning a one run deficit into four at 5-1.
The bullpen continued to suffer in the innings that followed, with Machado and Thad Ward giving up four runs each (although Mason Thompson posted an encouraging 1.1 innings with no hits or runs allowed). Kyle smashed another three-run "Schwarbomb" in the 9th, a familiar sight at Nationals Park for fans who remember Schwarber's red hot June hitting with DC in 2021. The Nationals were unable to mount a comeback in the ninth, but Vargas hit a two-run homer that would have been much more useful in the first five innings.
One positive from the blowout loss was some steller outfield play by Lane Thomas. In the first inning, Thomas threw Nick Castellanos out at second base on a difficultly-placed hit up the right field line. A few innings later he made a great diving catch to rob Brandon Marsh of a base hit. Good defense to go with his quality hitting of late is great to see, Thomas' performance this year makes a compelling case for him to be the Nationals' representative in next month's All-Star Game.
The Nationals play their next game at home on Tuesday evening. Jake Irvin will try to improve his 5.67 ERA against a hot D-backs lineup, with starter Tommy Henry on the bump for Arizona.