The Nationals ran into a juggernaut this week as the Tampa Bay Rays completed the sweep on Wednesday afternoon. The Rays won all three games in the series by at least 4 runs, which is a bit deceptive as the Nationals had plenty of chances in games 2 and 3 to do more damage. The Nationals kept in close in the first half against Rays' ace Shane McClanahan as it was 3 to 2 Rays entering the 6th inning, but the Rays used the long ball and the sun to push 3 more across against Patrick Corbin.
Patrick Corbin took the loss once again for the Nationals. While his struggles have been notable over the past several seasons, Corbin did not pitch all that poorly. The Rays were able to hit him hard at times, as most teams do, but Corbin was generally able to limit the damage. He entered the 6th only throwing 69 pitches and had a chance to eat more innings to save the bullpen and while he did complete the 6th, the third time through the lineup for the Rays proved to be costly for Corbin. Thaddeus Ward came on for two innings in relief and gave up the final run.
Shane McClanahan got the win on the mound for the Rays despite not having his best stuff. McClanahan struggled frequently with his command as he ended up walking 4 batters, but he was still able to grind through and get through 6 innings for Tampa after it looked like he might not even last through the 4th inning. Once again, the Nationals did all of their damage in the first half of the game and went completely silent in the second half, allowing the Rays to pull away.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- RISP: Stop me if you have heard me say this before, but the Nationals were terrible with runners in scoring position. While they did manage 3 hits in the situation, a single game high for this season, there were 9 additional opportunities in which the Nationals could not do anything. This brings their season total to 8 for 51 (.157 Batting Average)
- When to Pull Pitchers: Carrying over from Tuesday night's meltdown, Davey Martinez yet again left his pitcher in way too long and by the time he pulled them, the game was out of hand. This situation was slightly more palatable as Corbin had a low pitch count, but Martinez had the opportunity to get Corbin out while still within two runs and giving Corbin the chance to finish his outing with a decent start.
- The Sun: While the sun helped the Nationals a few times in the opening series against the Braves, it hurt them today. Victor Robles lose a ball in the sun in the 6th inning which was really the catalyst for letting the game get out of hand.
- CJ Abrams also went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts, but he got pounded with lefties today in what was not a favorable matchup for him.
What went right?
- Victor Robles: Yet again, another impressive performance from Robles offensively. He went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, as he doubled home Stone Garrett after an impressive at bat off Shane McClanahan. He also had a patented diving catch to rob Isaac Parades in the 6th. He is now batting .353 on the season with a .476 OBP.
- Stone Garrett: We finally got to see Stone Garrett in action and he did not disappoint. Getting the nod at DH with a lefty on the mound, Garrett went 1 for 2 with two walks and a run scored. He provides a big time right-handed power bat and him performing well greatly helps this team's depth.
- CJ Abrams gets a note as his defense has really settled down after opening day. He made a leaping grab to save two runs in the second inning and made a couple of nice plays look routine that were not.
Washington Nationals Record: 1-5
When is the next Nationals game?
The Nationals hit the road for their first series away from home this year as they travel to Colorado for a four game set with the Colorado Rockies. Thursday's game kicks off at 4:10pm EST with Josiah Gray taking the mound against Rockies' ace Kyle Freeland, another lefty for the Nationals to face. The thing to watch for Josiah Gray will be keeping the ball in the park in what is statistically the most home run friendly park in MLB History.