Another successful week for the Nationals
The Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies are the latest victims of one of the best teams in the National League since the All-Star break. Yes, the Washington Nationals are currently one of the best-performing teams in the Majors. Contributions from young foundational players led by veterans have led to an overperforming Nationals squad.
A leadoff homer from the Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo off Nats' starter Josiah Gray got the week started, and the right-hander couldn't recover. Gray lasted just three innings and gave up five earned runs; he's struggled since the All-Star break. Dominic Smith had two doubles, and Keibert Ruiz had two RBI to lead the Nats offense in a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday Night. Wednesday night was the MacKenzie Gore show; we'll have more on him later in the article. Keibert Ruiz hit a three-run home run to take the lead in the eighth inning. Ruiz has continued his white-hot second half of the season. Jose Ferrer got the decision in the Nats' 5-2 win over Boston. Patrick Corbin looked like his 2019 self on Thursday, throwing six innings of one-run ball while striking out six and walking none. Patrick allowed four hits and was efficient with his pitch count. Joey Meneses got opportunities with RISP and cashed in twice, racking up five RBI. Keibert Ruiz collected three hits, and Riley Adams had two RBI. Reliever Robert Garcia made it close in the seventh inning, giving up six earned runs, but Andres Machado settled the inning down. It was hurtful to the "A" bullpen, with fatigue setting in for some of the Nats' relievers. The Nats hung on to win 10-7 over Boston to secure the series win.
The Philadelphia Phillies then came to town for a three-game series over the weekend. Friday night was a roller coaster of a game. Jake Alu got the scoring going in the second with an RBI single. The Phillies scored six runs in the top of the fourth followed by the Nats scoring six of their own in the bottom of the inning. CJ Abrams hit an electric three-run home run to right to put an emphasis on the inning.
The six-run fourth inning was enough to hold on to an 8-7 win on Friday night. Saturday was not as pretty; we'll call it "The Cory Abbott Game." A tie game going into the eighth inning was squandered by reliever Cory Abbott, who gave up eight earned runs in a single inning. Abbott was sent down to Triple-A following the game. The pitching was poor enough to where you almost feel bad for Abbott. Sunday was the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Keibert Ruiz got the scoring going in the first with a bases-loaded double to score two, followed by an RBI single by Dominic Smith to score two more. Starting pitcher Trevor Williams was nails, throwing six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits. The ninth inning got interesting when Kyle Finnegan allowed a solo home run, but he secured the save to close out the series versus Philadelphia.
Hitter of the Week
Finally, Stone Garrett is getting regular playing time. He's taken his opportunity and ran with it. Stone hit two home runs and seven RBI while collecting nine hits this week. His season stats are now at .275 AVG, nine home runs, and 40 RBI. His OPS is now at .814, second to only Lane Thomas on the Nationals roster. Garrett went back-to-back with Keibert Ruiz to put a stamp on a strong-eighth inning on Wednesday night.
Garrett, a free agent signing from this past offseason, has proven to be a key piece of the Nationals 2023 team. Stone went from an overcrowded outfield in Arizona to an organization that could provide him with regular playing time, and it's paid dividends. What does the future hold for Garrett? A spot on the opening day roster in 2024 is my prediction.
Pitcher of the Week
Wednesday night was a sight to be seen, and it's a shame that MacKenzie Gore didn't get the win to show for it. Gore pitched 6.1 scoreless innings while allowing one hit and striking out seven. He walked just two and had ample command of his pitches. MacKenzie flashed his top-of-the-rotation talent against a Boston lineup that is no slouch.
Gore threw seven scoreless against the Royals earlier in the season. What about Gore pitching to American League teams gives him success? Whatever it may be, he needs to bring it to the National League teams. MacKenzie's ERA is now at 4.38 through 24 games started. He will likely be shut down due to his lack of experience at the Major League level. The six-man rotation that Washington has gone to could help, but don't be surprised if Gore is shut down at some point in September.