The Nats swept a series!
For the first time since June of the 2021 season, the Washington Nationals took three-straight games from an opponent. It was the longest streak by any team in the Major Leagues. The combination of a sweep and the signing of outfielder Dylan Crews made it a great weekend to be a Nationals fan.
Washington concluded their road trip in Chicago with a three-game series to begin the week. MacKenzie Gore was on the mound Monday night but gave up five earned runs. In the seventh inning, Gore's pitch count approached 100, and he gave up a two-run home run. The box score was ugly, but MacKenzie walked just two batters over 6.2 innings, showing improvement in his control. Keibert Ruiz had three hits and two RBI to lead the Nats to a 7-5 victory over the Cubs.
The Nats competed for six innings on Tuesday night, but the Cubs throttled Washington over the final nine outs. Patrick Corbin pitched 5.1 innings and gave up three earned runs. After Corbin exited, the floodgates opened up. The Cubs scored 14 runs off three Washington relievers. It wasn't pretty to watch. Wednesday's game wasn't a great effort from the bullpen, either. A 3-3 game entering the bottom of the eighth, following a 2-run top of the inning from Washington, ends up an 8-3 loss. Mason Thompson allowed four earned runs on two hits and two walks, and Corey Abbott allowed a home run. The Cubs series highlighted the weak bullpen that Washington has.
After a flight home Wednesday night and an off-day Thursday, the Nats were a new team against the San Fransisco Giants on Friday night. Lane Thomas got the train rolling in the first inning, launching a home run off Giants' starter Alex Wood. Keibert Ruiz kept it going with a double to left, scoring Jeimer Candelario to take an early 2-1 lead. The Nats never looked back and won game one, 5-3. Saturday night was special; Dylan Crews was in the building for a press conference and to hit on the field, and the Nats scored ten runs to beat the Giants.
Washington attacked Giants starter Logan Webb in the second, led by Alex Call, Dominic Smith, and Corey Dickerson. In the fourth, Lane Thomas, Jeimer Candelario, Keibert Ruiz, and Dominic Smith all had hits for an RBI. Josiah Gray started on the mound and was fantastic, throwing seven innings of one-run ball, striking out four, and walking three. Gray proved why he was an All-star selection on Saturday. Starting pitching was the theme versus the Giants, and MacKenzie Gore added to the highlight reel on Sunday afternoon. Gore struck out eight over five innings while walking just two batters. Lane Thomas had three hits and four stolen bases on Sunday, an impressive game. Riley Adams had two hits, including a home run, and Dominic Smith also had two hits. The Nats beat the Giants to secure their first sweep since 2021.
Hitter of the Week
Some Nats fans were not patient enough with the young shortstop. The ones that were are being paid off, because CJ Abrams is red-hot. Another seven hits this week, including two home runs, raised his season average to .256. This is his second Player of the Week Award in consecutive weeks.
The 22-year-old has his OPS up to .729 with ten home runs and 40 RBI with 19 stolen bases. I could sound like a broken record, but the amount of maturity that Abrams has shown in the past month has been outstanding. Dealing with his struggles at the beginning of the season has allowed him to blossom with humility. He's showing Nationals' fans and the front office that he's the shortstop of the future. Abrams' slugging percentage has increased by over 100 points compared to last season, along with his on-base percentage by 30 points. Should the Nationals front office think about signing Abrams to an extension? He's showing consistent improvement throughout the season and has elite tools. Nationals fans want their young shortstop around for the long haul.
Pitcher of the Week
It's a repeat week for Jake Irvin, back-to-back Player of the Week awards. There is something about pitching versus the Giants that makes Irvin throw like an ace. Jake threw 6.2 innings on Friday night, allowing three earned runs while walking one and striking out a career-high nine batters. Irvin was nasty and had his full-repertoire on display.
Irvin has earned his slot in the Nationals' starting rotation. The 26-year-old rookie has been a pleasant surprise for the front office and fans as he wasn't a top prospect with high anticipation. His ERA is down to 4.87 with a WHIP of 1.43. Irvin could give Washington a problem next season with too many starting pitchers. It's not a bad problem, but the return of Cade Cavalli and (hopefully)signing a high-caliber starter would likely knock Irvin to the bullpen.