The Nationals pulled out a victory Saturday night in Colorado for what was their first back-to-back wins of the season, but boy did they make it closer than it needed to be. The Rockies scored four 9th inning runs to make the score 7 to 6 and had the tying run on base before Carl Edwards Jr. was able to stop the bleeding and get the final out for the save.
The story of the game for the Nationals was easily Stone Garrett. The 27 year old slugger had his welcome to the team moment as he went 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs, 3 of which came on this towering home run to Center Field.
Garrett would finish the game a triple short of the cycle, but did have a single and two doubles to go along with his home run. Hitting in the two spot, Garrett did not disappoint and should figure to be a staple of Nationals lineups in the immediate future. The righty outfielder was called up from Triple A following the injury to Corey Dickerson, but if he keeps playing like this, the Nationals might have to explore other options rather than sending Garrett back down to Rochester. I will also take an early victory lap as I predicted Stone Garrett to lead the team in home runs this season. Again, it's early, but I am loving my bold prediction.
Trevor Williams also deserves a shoutout tonight as the starter turned reliever turned starter looked much more poised pitching on Saturday night than he did in his first start. Coors Field is a notoriously difficult place to pitch and Williams looked in control for the majority of his outing, finishing his night with 5.1 innings pitched and allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, no walks and 4 strikeouts. That is two straight starts of more than 5 innings, which is good to see with Williams having been a reliever the past couple seasons.
Austin Gomber took the loss for the Rockies as he allowed 5 runs on 7 hits in 4.2 innings against the Nationals despite only allowing 2 runs in 12.2 innings against the Nationals in Coors Field previously in his career. He has Stone Garrett to thank for that.
Nationals Game Review
What went wrong?
- Bullpen: The Nationals area of strength all season long had one of their worst games thus far, but in their defense, they have not been pitching with a lead much, if at all, this season. Hunter Harvey entered the game in relief of Trevor Williams with an inherited runner on third and one out. Harvey let the run score, but otherwise got out of the inning unscathed. Harvey has been the first name called out of the bullpen a couple of times. already and is emerging as a go-to option for the team. Mason Thompson got the ball for the 7th inning and had a patented easy-looking inning. Thompson and Harvey have easily been this team's best two relievers so far and got the ball in the 6th and 7th innings. Then Kyle Finnegan, who hasn't pitched outside of the 9th inning this season, came on for the 8th. He struggled a bit with a hit and a walk, but got out of the inning without allowing a run. Carl Edwards Jr. was warming up in case Finnegan really got into trouble, but did not have to come in and was not called upon for the final inning. That left Anthony Banda, Erasmo Ramirez or Hobie Harris, who has also been one of the team's best relievers this season, to pitch the 9th and Banda got the call. Banda really struggled as he did not record an out and allowed three runs to score. Instead of getting Harris or Ramirez hot, manager Davey Martinez went back to Carl Edwards Jr., a move you typically don't see as relievers typically don't do well ramping up to throw, sitting back down, and then ramping up to throw again. Edwards clearly did not have his best stuff, whether it was because of the back-and-forth or because of the altitude in Denver, or just because of an off day. He surrendered three hits and nearly lost the game before settling down and striking out Kris Bryant to secure the save.
What went right?
Keeping up with Friday's theme, much more went right than wrong:
- Stone Garrett: His power has always been apparent, but it was nice to see it put in a position to succeed by hitting second in the lineup. He won this game and it would have been a very different picture without him in the lineup.
- Trevor Williams: as mentioned previously, Williams has so far displayed the ability to eat innings. He may never get to the point where he's going 7 innings consistently, but we really just need him to go 5 and the occassional 6 innings for him to provide real value. He's pitching well while doing it too which is a big plus.
- CJ Abrams' Poise: while he didn't have a hit tonight, Abrams worked two walks and had a sacrifice bunt in the game as well as a run scored. Abrams will need to consistently display the ability to get on base via the walk and he has been doing so as of late, which is very promising.
- Victor Robles: of the everyday starters, Robles is leading the team in batting average through 9 games. He added a hit tonight and nearly hit a home run that ended up being a flyout to the warning track and likely a home run at nearly any other ballpark. We'll have to keep an eye out if he moves up in the lineup at some point.
- Leadoff Alex Call: the decision to put Call in the leadoff spot is paying off, as Call is seeing 4.55 pitches per plate appearance, good for 7th in the National League. He had two hits in five appearances on Saturday and scored twice.
- Thompson and Harvey: I already mentioned how good they have been above, but I think it is more than past time to give these two studs the 8th and 9th innings. If they go closer-by-committee, that is fine, so long as that committee is made up of Mason Thompson and Hunter Harvey. End of list.
Washington Nationals Record: 3-6
When is the next Nationals game?
The Nationals wrap up their series with the Rockies today as Chad Kuhl will be on the mound for the Nats in a revenge game of sorts against his former team. Kuhl made 27 starts for the Rockies last season, pitching to a 5.27 ERA. He knows Coors Field well, so hopefully he can lean on that experience as the Nationals look to take 3 of 4 from Colorado. The Rockies will send out Ryan Feltner as they look to tie up the 4 game series. Feltner went 4.2 innings in his first start of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing 5 runs on 4 hits with 5 walks and 7 strikeouts. A wild statline for a wild pitcher.