A series win!
For the first time since August 26th, the Washington Nationals won a series. It's been a draining last few weeks of the season watching the Nationals struggle to the finish line. Washington put a few solid games together versus the Chicago White Sox to secure a series win. Then the Atlanta Braves came to town, and it wasn't as pretty.
Joan Adon got the ball Monday night and couldn't make it out of the sixth inning. His final line was five innings, five earned runs, and five strikeouts. Adon was cruising through four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth. The Nats' bats were cold except for a Dom Smith home run in the ninth inning off White Sox' pitcher Mike Clevinger that stirred up a commotion.
The Nats took care of business in the final two games following the extra-curricular activity on Monday night. The Nats were backed by a pinch-hit three-run home run by Joey Meneses that was enough to win the game 4-3. Wednesday night was an offensive exhibition, with the Nats winning 13-3. Lane Thomas hit a grand slam, and Meneses and Garcia had three hits. Josiah Gray was solid for the second outing in a row, throwing five innings while allowing one earned run, striking out four, and walking three. It was a morale-boosting series win for the Nationals.
Then arrived the Atlanta Braves for a four-game series. Jake Irvin got battered in the third inning, and it was downhill from there. Irvin was pulled from the game in the second, with the Nats down by five. The Nats couldn't get much going against the Braves pitching and lost 10-3. Game two wasn't much better, as Patrick Corbin allowed three runs in the top of the first inning, and the Nats were instantly behind. The Scrappy Nats have been nonexistent lately. The final score of game two was 9-6. Game three was postponed and moved to a doubleheader on Sunday.
Four extra-base hits were vital in the Nats 3-2 win over the Braves in game one of Sunday's doubleheader. Jake Young hit a key two-run double in the third inning to put the Nats ahead by one, and they never looked back. Kyle Finnegan secured the save. Game two saw more extra-base hits, with Keibert Ruiz doubling home two RBI in the third and a Luis Garcia RBI single to put the Nats ahead by three. Starter Joan Adon allowed four innings in the fourth and was pulled from the game. The bullpen couldn't contain the Braves' sluggers, allowing four more runs to score. Luis Garcia and Lane Thomas added solo home runs, but it wasn't enough to catch the Braves. The Nats lost game four 8-5. Atlanta won the series, 3-1. The Nats have just one week of the regular season remaining.
Hitter of the Week
CJ is so much fun to watch play baseball; speed, bat skills, and power. The Nats have their new guy at shortstop. With nine hits this week, CJ is the Hitter of the Week. Abrams is also close to passing the Nationals' record for stolen bases, 46, which Trea Turner set in 2017. How funny it's Turner who Abrams is "chasing."
Abrams has improved throughout the season in all facets of the game. Defense at shortstop will need to improve in the offseason, among other skills, but staying dependable up the middle is imperative for the Nats. Plate discipline will need to be better for Abrams to remain in the leadoff slot in the lineup.
Pitcher of the Week
A bounce-back outing followed by another strong start versus a division rival earned rookie Jackson Rutledge Pitcher of the Week honors. After a rough first MLB start, the 24-year-old has made the most of his opportunity. Against the White Sox, Jackson threw 6.1 innings while allowing two runs on six hits, with two strikeouts and two walks. It was just the second time Rutledge has thrown in the seventh inning this season. Then, against the Braves on Sunday, he threw five innings, allowing just one run while striking out four and walking two.
Improvement is encouraging, and Rutledge is showing it. It would've been a rough scene for the 24-year-old to head into his first offseason as a major leaguer with no momentum. Rutledge has gotten his feet wet and understands what it takes to be successful for the Nats. What role will that be in? Jackson should get every opportunity to be a starter but don't be surprised if he's turned into a reliever with his high-octane fastball.