Game 106 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

anibal sanchez pitches red

It’s a new day here on South Capitol Street. The sun came up. The grounds crew worked on the field. The Nationals, or what’s left of them, reported for work. There are 56 games still to play this season, and that would’ve been the case whether Juan Soto and Josh Bell were here for them or not.

We got a glimpse Tuesday night of what the team looks like without them, and surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad. Behind strong pitching from Cory Abbott and the bullpen, and home runs from Luis García, Yadiel Hernandez and Joey Meneses, the Nats beat Jacob deGrom and the Mets 5-1. And so they once again have a chance to win a series over a National League contender.

Aníbal Sánchez is going to have to be effective for that to happen, certainly more effective than he has been in three starts to date. Against the Mets lineup, that may be a lot to ask. But if he can just provide five innings and keep his team in the game, the Nationals bullpen has been good enough to finish things off for several weeks now.

The lineup that blasted three homers Tuesday night will try to do something similar today against Chris Bassitt, who doesn’t get as much attention as deGrom and Max Scherzer but is plenty important to New York’s chances this season.

Nationals Park

Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside D.C. and N.Y. markets),
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Sunny, 91 degrees, wind 7 mph out to center field

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Road back to success is even bumpier without Soto

soto blue on deck

As he sat down in front of a bank of cameras and recorders and reporters, the likes of which hadn’t been present at Nationals Park in a long time, Mike Rizzo made a statement about his decision to trade Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres for six players, five of them highly rated prospects.

Rizzo made his statement not only through his words, but also through his attire. On this, one of the most significant days of his 13-year tenure as general manager, he wore his 2019 World Series ring on his left hand, not to mention a red polo shirt with the visage of the Commissioner’s Trophy on the chest.

“I wore this ring purposely,” he said. “It shows what we’ve done in the past, and what we’re going to do in the future. In 2019, we had a slogan: ‘Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.’ We’re on a bumpy road right now, and we believe that coming out of this thing, it’ll be a beautiful place.”

This road may indeed lead to a beautiful place someday, but that day won’t be anytime soon. The path back to winning baseball in D.C. is going to feature all sorts of bumps and potholes and other obstacles, and while Tuesday’s blockbuster trade of Soto to San Diego may produce some nice new paving way down at the end of the journey, it didn’t do anything to smooth over the asphalt sitting right in front of the Nats right now.

To be clear, this is not – and should not – be framed as a good thing for anybody. This isn’t something anyone wanted to do. It’s not something anyone should have wanted the Nationals to do.

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Nationals come to grips with Soto trade

juan soto swinging bat blue

Once word that Juan Soto turned down the Nationals’ 15-year, $440 million extension offer – prompting the club to explore the possibility of trading its 23-year-old superstar – became public 17 days ago, Mike Rizzo began the process of figuring out which other organizations might actually be in a position to make a trade happen.

The Nats general manager realized the list of candidates, essentially clubs that were both in a win-now mode while also having enough elite talent in their farm system, would be short. In recent days, it became clear there were only three serious suitors: the Padres, Cardinals and Dodgers. And by the time trade deadline day arrived, it was clear that if a deal was going to happen, it was going to be with the Padres.

“We had to get the right deal, or we weren’t going to do the deal,” Rizzo said. “We set the bar very, very high, and one team exceeded it and that’s the deal we made. Props to the San Diego Padres. They’re not afraid, and ownership’s not afraid and (general manager) A.J. Preller’s not afraid. They were aggressive, and we made a deal that you call historical. I call it a good deal for both the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals at this time in both our franchise’s history.”

It will be some time before anyone can say with certainty if it was a good deal for either franchise. The Padres must now actually win something in October with Soto and Josh Bell added to a roster that already features Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Yu Darvish and (just recently) Josh Hader. The Nationals must hope several of the five prospects they acquired today (along with veteran first baseman Luke Voit) become not only big leaguers but cornerstones who ultimately help them win a lot more games than they’re winning these days.

In the minutes and hours that came after today’s blockbuster news was reported, those who remained at Nationals Park were having a tough time thinking that far into the future. They were more concerned with the two cornerstones from the 2022 roster who are no longer here, not to mention wondering if anyone else from the room would be dealt.

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Soto, Bell dealt to Padres for host of players (updated)


The Nationals finalized a blockbuster deal this afternoon that is sending Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres for six players – both major and minor leaguers – that once completed represented the most dramatic trade deadline transaction in club history, and arguably in baseball history.

The nearly unprecedented package included Soto and Bell going to San Diego for a group of prospects that included two players who made their major league debuts this season (left-hander Mackenzie Gore and shortstop C.J. Abrams), plus three younger, top-rated prospects (right-hander Jarlin Susana, outfielders Robert Hassell and James Wood), as well as veteran first baseman Luke Voit.

Voit was added to the deal after fellow veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer informed the Padres he would not waive his partial no-trade clause to come to the Nationals. Hosmer wound up getting dealt to the Red Sox instead, with Voit now coming to Washington and expected to take over at first base in the coming days.

The deal came roughly six hours before the 6 p.m. trade deadline, but given the complexities and number of people involved, it needed to be agreed upon earlier in the day. General manager Mike Rizzo had been in talks with several other clubs, including the Cardinals and Dodgers, over the last few days but honed in on the Padres as deadline day arrived.

The Soto-Bell blockbuster, as it turns out, was the only trade the Nationals made today. The deadline came and went with no other moves made, per a club source, leaving Nelson Cruz, Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and other potential trade candidates on the roster moving forward.

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Soto, Bell and Nats left waiting to see what happens

soto and bell

Davey Martinez submitted a lineup card for Monday night’s game a little after 3 p.m. By that point, the Nationals manager already knew utility man Ehire Adrianza had been traded, with Ildemaro Vargas called up from Triple-A Rochester to take his roster spot. Everything else, as far as he knew, remained the status quo.

Not that Martinez wasn’t acutely aware of the possibility something else could change before first pitch at 7:05 p.m. Any of a number of his regular members from the lineup or bullpen could be dealt away at any moment, so he made sure to consult with bench coach Tim Bogar about all the potential fallback plans should something occur either before, or during, the game against the Mets.

“We’ll see what happens in the next 48 hours,” Martinez said. “But we do have to think about the what-ifs – which I try not to, until it happens – but we’ve got to be prepared.”

By night’s end, there was no need for all that prep work. The Nationals made no more deals on Trade Deadline Eve, withholding everything for the final day, it appears.

If they’re going to part with Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek or anybody else, they’re going to have to do it in a hurry, with the deadline approaching at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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Nats send Adrianza to Braves for minor league outfielder

Ehire Adrianza throw gray

The Nationals made the first of what should be multiple trades over the next two days, sending utility man Ehire Adrianza to the Braves for minor league outfielder Trey Harris.

Adrianza was hardly the highest-profile player the Nats have made available leading into Tuesday night's trade deadline, but the 32-year-old did have some value for his ability to play a host of positions well. And the fact he had been getting more regular starts since the All-Star break, most often at third base, suggested the club was trying to showcase him for any interested clubs.

The Braves wound up acquiring him, bringing Adrianza back one year after he was a member of their bench during their World Series run. He was batting only .179 with two doubles, seven RBIs and one stolen base in 31 games this season, his debut significantly delayed by a quadriceps strain suffered during the final week of spring training.

Harris isn't regarded as a top prospect, but the 26-year-old was the winner of Atlanta's 2019 Hank Aaron Award, presented annually to the organization's top minor league offensive player. A right-handed batter, he was hitting .238 with eight doubles, one triple, two homers, 16 RBIs and four stolen bases in 59 games for Double-A Mississippi this season.

Harris originally was the Braves' 32nd-round draft pick in 2018 out of the University of Missouri.

Time has arrived for Nats to make major decision

juan soto gray

It’s been 16 days now, 16 long days, since the first report emerged of Juan Soto declining a 15-year, $440 million extension, prompting the Nationals to “entertain” the possibility of trading their star right fielder.

Everyone has been put through the ringer ever since. Soto, who can’t make it through a single day without somebody bombarding him with questions about his uncertain future. The Nats, who have attempted to walk the tightrope between seeking out legitimate trade offers while simultaneously stressing they still prefer Soto stays in D.C. for the long term. Local and national media members, who spend every waking minute trying to decipher whatever clues are out there about the team’s intentions. And, of course, fans who experienced the full range of emotions and are now bracing for whatever outcome is on the horizon.

An outcome that is now nearly ready to reveal itself.

At some point in the next 34 hours, the Nationals are either going to trade Soto to a contending club for perhaps the best prospects haul in baseball history, or they’re going to let Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline pass without making the move and allow this issue to be resolved at some later date.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a prediction for how this will play out. But the man in the middle of it all just wants to know, once and for all, whose uniform he’s going to be wearing the rest of the season.

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Nats shut out by Cards to end month of misery (updated)

josiah gray pitches red

With a chance to win a second consecutive series over a National League contender, the Nationals instead today did what they’ve done so many times over the last four months. They dug themselves into a hole with shaky defense and a penchant for giving up a big home run. And they did next-to-nothing offensively to give themselves a chance at coming back from that deficit.

So it was the Nats went down quietly to the Cardinals this afternoon, losing 5-0 in the rubber game of the weekend series and ending a miserable July on another uninspired note.

Fortunately, Saturday night’s dramatic win ensured this would not be the worst month in club history. Even with today’s loss, the Nationals finished July with a 6-19 record for a .240 winning percentage, narrowly besting July 2008 (.208) and April 2009 (.238) as the lowest points this franchise has experienced since arriving in town.

Now, though, the calendar shifts to August, and there is legitimate reason to worry the two months that remain this season could rival the just-completed one in terms of misery.

The next 48 hours will help determine that fate, as general manager Mike Rizzo decides who from his current 26-man roster to deal and who to retain before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline. Given how many potential moves are on the table, Rizzo may not have the luxury of waiting until Tuesday to start the process.

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Robles sits with hamstring cramp, rotation set for Mets series

victor robles swings white

Victor Robles is out of the Nationals' lineup for today’s series finale against the Cardinals after his left hamstring cramped during the eighth inning of Saturday night’s 7-6 victory.

Robles hurt himself tracking down Brendan Donovan’s deep flyball to center field for the final out of the top of the eighth, a key play that maintained the Nats’ one-run lead after St. Louis loaded the bases earlier in the inning.

Due up third in the bottom of that inning, Robles was late to get to the plate and then quickly struck out, not looking comfortable in the process. Manager Davey Martinez then decided to remove him from the game, shifting Lane Thomas to center field and inserting utilityman Ehire Adrianza in left field for the top of the ninth.

“He’s OK,” Martinez said. “When I had to take him out of the game yesterday, I figured I’d give him a day (off) today. When he cramps up like that, it knots up pretty good. I talked to him last night and told him: ‘I’m just going to give you a day and get that right.’ ”

It was an eventful game for Robles, who hit his fourth homer of the season (his second in a week), made a diving catch in deep left-center field and also made an ill-advised throw only moments before he was injured.

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Game 103 lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals

josiah gray pitches white

For all the issues that surround them – and there are plenty – there is also this fact about the Nationals: They’ve won four of their last six, and this afternoon they have an opportunity to win their second straight series over a bona fide contender. Yes, after winning two straight at Dodger Stadium to begin the week, they’ve now split the first two games of the weekend series against the Cardinals and will go for another curly W today.

It’s Josiah Gray on the mound, bumped up a day because of Erick Fedde’s injury but still on full rest. In his last start at Dodger Stadium, Gray gave up a leadoff homer to Mookie Betts, then cruised through the fourth before giving up a leadoff homer to Cody Bellinger during what became a two-run fifth. This will be his first start against the Cardinals.

The Nationals lineup is without Victor Robles, whose left hamstring cramped after making his last catch in the top of the eighth Saturday night. That’s why he was slow to get to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, why he looked so out of sorts during that at-bat and why Davey Martinez pulled him from the game for the top of the ninth.

Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Rain arriving, 86 degrees, wind 8 mph out to left field

CF Lane Thomas
2B Cesar Hernandez
RF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell
DH Nelson Cruz
LF Yadiel Hernandez
SS Luis Garcia
3B Ehire Adrianza
C Tres Barrera

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Bell's late blast lifts Nats over Cards (updated)

bell celebrates hr cherry

An inordinate amount of the Nationals’ offensive production this season has come via the bats (and the eyes) of Juan Soto and Josh Bell. Together, those two have accounted for 23 percent of the team’s hits, 28 percent of their runs, 42 percent of their walks and 43 percent of their homers.

So, imagine what this lineup would look like in August and September should Soto and Bell no longer be wearing curly W helmets at the plate. Actually, don’t imagine it. It’s too depressing.

Instead, just appreciate whatever time remains with these two larger-than-life sluggers batting back-to-back in Davey Martinez’s lineup. Just as a boisterous crowd of 34,440 did tonight as Soto and Bell helped lead the Nationals to a 7-6, come-from-behind win over the Cardinals.

Soto did his usual thing, reaching base four times (thrice via walks, once via single). And Bell did the thing he’s done regularly in his 1 1/2 years in D.C.: Deliver a big hit in a big moment, belting a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give his team the lead and elicit a roar from the crowd.

"Awesome. And well-deserved," Martinez said. "I'm not going to think about what's going to happen in the next few days. I just know that today was a great win for us, and he was a big part of it."

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Fedde goes on IL, Abbott could take rotation spot

fedde throw back white

The Nationals placed Erick Fedde on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation this afternoon, creating a ripple effect on the rest of their rotation as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches.

Fedde, who was supposed to start tonight against the Cardinals, instead went on the IL (retroactive to July 27) after complaining of a sore shoulder following his last start, though he doesn’t believe the issue is serious enough to sideline him for long.

Paolo Espino, originally listed as Sunday’s starter, will pitch tonight instead, though he remains on full rest because of Thursday’s off-day for the team. Josiah Gray and Patrick Corbin also are having their starts bumped up a day, with Gray now slated to pitch Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals and Corbin going Monday against the Mets.

That leaves a rotation hole for Tuesday, with a starter needed to face the Mets. Manager Davey Martinez said that assignment will go to Cory Abbott, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester today, provided the right-hander isn’t needed out of the bullpen tonight.

The injury to Fedde (who is 5-7 with a 4.95 ERA in 19 starts) comes after he threw 99 pitches in only 4 2/3 innings Sunday at Arizona, after which he experienced shoulder soreness.

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Game 102 lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals (update: Fedde to IL)

robles hr white

The Nationals are back to work tonight, hoping to bounce back from Friday night’s 6-2 loss to the Cardinals and emerge with a victory that would ensure July 2022 doesn’t surpass July 2008 as the worst month in club history. They need just one more win to make sure they finish at least 6-19 this month. (That 2008 team went 5-20 in July to establish the rock-bottom mark for the organization since it arrived in D.C.)

The Nats will try to do so with a rotation change. They just announced Paolo Espino is starting tonight’s game instead of Erick Fedde. No word yet on the reason for that change, but I’m sure we’ll get it soon, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Nationals will try to get something going offensively tonight against Dakota Hudson, who has struggled quite a bit of late. Over his last seven starts, the Cardinals right-hander is 2-4 with a 6.16 ERA and 1.579 WHIP.

Tonight’s game is on FOX, with Aaron Goldsmith on play-by-play, Tom Verducci as analyst and Ken Rosenthal as dugout reporter. It’s available to most everyone in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and most of the Midwest. Here’s the full coverage map.

Update: The Nationals have placed Fedde on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to July 27, with right shoulder inflammation. They've recalled right-hander Cory Abbott from Triple-A Rochester.

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Draft pick Green looks, acts the part at Nationals Park

elijah green

The first reaction everyone had upon seeing Elijah Green on Friday was universal.

“Big kid,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said.

“Obviously, he’s a big dude,” first baseman Josh Bell added.

The Nationals’ first-round draft pick indeed is big, certainly for his age. How many 6-foot-3, 225-pound 18-year-olds do you know? And then how many of them can put on a clinic in batting practice, then chase down everything hit his way in center field?

“For me, it’s not just one tool. It’s everything he can do,” Martinez said. “I watched a lot of video of him before we drafted him. He can run, he can hit, he can hit for power. His defense, it looks like his first step was really good. For me, it’s exciting to have a kid that has that many tools.”

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Back-to-back homers doom Sánchez, Nats (updated)

juan soto swinging bat blue

As the ball went soaring over the right field wall and into the home bullpen at Nationals Park, it was impossible not to take stock of the situation and consider what it may have meant for the present and future of both franchises competing in tonight’s series opener.

The two-run homer was hit by Nolan Gorman, one of the Cardinals’ top young players and likely one of the key pieces the Nationals would be seeking should St. Louis attempt to trade for Juan Soto in the coming days.

Soto, of course, was in right field for the Nats tonight, racing back to the wall in vain hopes of catching an uncatchable ball. On the mound was Aníbal Sánchez, who had been one pitch away from authoring his first quality start in the majors in two years but instead wound up charged with six runs in what ultimately was a 6-2 loss.

"Tough one today," manager Davey Martinez said. "We could've made a couple plays defensively, didn't do it early. I thought Sánchez until that last inning kept us in the ballgame. And we had some opportunities to score some runs, we couldn't do it."

In the opener of a weeklong homestand that could include plenty of drama leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Nationals were again overmatched by a superior opponent. Their lineup was rendered helpless by Miles Mikolas who allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings. And their chances of keeping the game within striking distance were significantly diminished when Sánchez served up back-to-back homers with two outs in the sixth: the first to Gorman, then a follow-up blast to Lars Nootbaar.

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Adrianza again at third; Adams playing first at Triple-A

Ehire Adrianza throw gray

For the fourth time in six games, Ehire Adrianza finds himself in the Nationals lineup tonight. And for the third time, he’s starting at third base in place of Maikel Franco.

If that development seems to have come out of nowhere, well, that’s true.

Adrianza started only 10 games at third base in his first six weeks since coming off the injured list, in addition to three games at second base, two in left field and one at shortstop. Now, though, he’s getting regular action, mostly at the hot corner.

What’s the impetus for that?

“I’ve just honestly been playing matchups with him,” manager Davey Martinez said before tonight’s series opener against the Cardinals. “He missed a lot (of time), as you know. I’m trying to keep him going. When you get hurt and miss that much time during the season, it takes you a little bit to get going. I think over the last few days, he’s been hitting the ball a lot better. So I didn’t want him to lose that by sitting him for a week or something. So I’ve been playing him quite a bit. Franco’s been playing quite a bit. They’ve just been sharing time.”

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Game 101 lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals

anibal sanchez pitches red

The Nationals are back in town at last for what could be an awfully eventful homestand. It begins tonight with the opener of a three-game series with the Cardinals, and a fun rematch of a famous game in franchise history. Remember the last time Aníbal Sánchez faced Miles Mikolas? That would be Game 1 of the 2019 NLCS. No word if Ryan Zimmerman plans to come out of retirement for one night so he can make a diving catch at first base and keep a no-hit bid alive.

Anyways, the Nats return from a successful series in Los Angeles, having won two of three. Now they face a good Cardinals club that in theory could leave town with a new right fielder. (Sorry, just telling you what’s within the realm of possibility at this point.)

Davey Martinez is sticking with Victor Robles in the leadoff spot, with the aforementioned Juan Soto batting third ahead of Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz. Ehire Adrianza gets another start at third base instead of Maikel Franco, the third time that’s the been the case in the last week.

Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Chance of storms, 81 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left field

CF Victor Robles
2B César Hernández
RF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell
DH Nelson Cruz
LF Yadiel Hernandez
SS Luis García
C Keibert Ruiz
3B Ehire Adrianza

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Friday morning Nats Q&A

Juan Soto Home Run Derby smile

The Nationals are back home tonight for the first time in 12 days. A lot has happened since then, of course, though none of the really big things that could still happen within the next few days.

The roster remains intact. Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Finnegan and everyone else are still Nationals. Will they all still be come 6 p.m. Tuesday? The time for some major, franchise-altering decisions by Mark Lerner and Mike Rizzo is nearly upon us.

In the meantime, we'll take some time this morning to address whatever questions you have about the situation. I can't promise I have all the answers you seek, but I hope I can add some perspective (and maybe a little dose of reality) to the chaos that now surrounds this team.

As always, submit your questions in the comments section below, then check back throughout the morning for answers ...

Cavalli dominates in return; Nats bullpen streak ends

ramirez pitching gray

By this time next week, the Nationals’ farm system could have a brand-new infusion of talent, perhaps a host of well-regarded prospects acquired before Tuesday’s trade deadline, should the organization make the dramatic decision to deal Juan Soto (not to mention Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr. and possibly others) in the final teardown of their once-competitive roster.

All the while, the guy who has been regarded their No. 1 prospect for some time now remains at Triple-A, seemingly knocking on the door for the final promotion that will lead to his major league debut.

Cade Cavalli made another case for that Wednesday night, tossing five scoreless innings on 75 pitches for Rochester against Scranton-Wilkes Barre. The young right-hander allowed three hits, walked three and struck out three to continue his recent surge, albeit in his first start in more than two weeks.

Cavalli hadn’t pitched since July 12, when he abruptly departed a game in the fourth inning with what proved to be a minor finger issue, akin to a blister. Minor as it was, that ailment did prompt the Nationals to hold him out of that weekend’s All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium. They then waited until Wednesday to have him take the mound again, giving him a 15-day break that perhaps helped conserve some innings he’ll still need before season’s end.

Cavalli now sports a 4.03 ERA in 16 total Triple-A starts this season, but he has been trending in an upward direction for a while. Over his last nine starts, he owns a 1.89 ERA and 1.000 WHIP. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in any of his three starts this month.

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Corbin can't finish first inning in blowout loss (updated)

corbin upset

LOS ANGELES – There is no greater indignity for a starting pitcher then to see his manager emerge from the dugout steps and make the long, slow walk toward him in the first inning. Unless said starter is injured or dealing with some other abnormal circumstances, the first-inning hook is as humiliating a fate as a big league pitcher will ever experience. Which is why it happens so infrequently.

It had never happened to Patrick Corbin in his career, not in his first start, not in his 100th start, not in his 200th start, not in any of countless other miserable starts during a miserable three-year stretch for the Nationals left-hander.

And then, in career start No. 250, there stood Corbin on the mound, the Dodgers having scored six runs in the bottom of the first, all of them scoring with two outs, his pitch count up to a whopping 45. And here came Davey Martinez to ask for the ball and leave his veteran starter taking the walk of shame back to the dugout as the Dodger Stadium crowd serenaded him.

"He faced 10 hitters. He was behind five of them," Martinez said. "And the guys he got ahead of, he just couldn't put them away. That was the big deal right there. And he had a lot of pitches, so we had to go get him."

Everything that transpired over the remaining eight-plus innings in the Nationals’ 7-1 loss to the Dodgers felt inconsequential. Only hours after pulling off their most dramatic win of the season, the Nats showed up for this early-afternoon matinee with a shot at their first series sweep of the season, their first-ever series sweep in this historic ballpark. Those dreams, for all intents and purposes, were dashed before the first inning even came to a close.

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