Disastrous sixth for Corbin and Law buries new-look lineup in loss (updated)

NEW YORK – Davey Martinez needed to shake up his lineup. For the most part, it hasn’t been getting the job done as is over the past couple of weeks. Sure there were a few offensive outbursts here and there, but it definitely needed a kickstart to be more consistent.

So what did the Nationals manager do against Mets right-hander Luis Severino? He stacked the first five spots in the batting order with four left-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. And although it was actually the right-handed hitters at the bottom of the lineup that helped give the Nats an early lead, a disastrous sixth inning led to a fourth straight loss.

The Nats fell to the Mets 6-2 in front of an announced crowd of 24,887 at Citi Field, who got very loud during the bottom of the sixth.

With a 2-1 lead, Patrick Corbin returned to the mound to give his team at least one more inning and keep the lead intact. He had been effective up until that point at only 65 pitches, but the third time through the heart of the Mets order proved too much for the veteran lefty to handle.

Three straight hits tied the game at 2-2 and that was enough for Martinez to go to the bullpen to try to keep this one close. In came Derek Law, who has struggled with inherited runners this season, with two runners in scoring position and no outs. What could have been predicted came to fruition.

Law walked Francisco Alvarez on four pitches to load the bases and then surrendered a two-run hit to Jose Iglesias to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. After Iglesias advanced to second with Alvarez caught in a rundown, Law then gave up a single to put two runners on base.

“Corbin was really good," Martinez said after the game. "He had 65 pitches going into that inning. And then he got up on everything. When he kept the ball down, he was really good. He throws the ball up and he got hit. So we tried to get him out there, and Law comes in and walks the first guy. Then falls behind on Iglesias and throws a fastball and base hit up the middle."

“Just trying to get a ground ball, hopefully to somebody and, obviously, hold the runs," Law said. "It's kind of frustrating it didn't work out how it was supposed to. It's kind of been that way, at least recently, especially. Just unacceptable, honestly.”

The righty reliever has now allowed a whopping 20 of 29 (70 percent) inherited runners to score. It’s a situation he thrived in last year with the Reds (only eight percent of inherited runners scored), but in which he has now been a liability with the Nats.

“Everybody's tired, but that's not an excuse," he said. "You just got to execute pitches and dig down deep at that time. I just didn't make the pitches when I needed to.”

“One, he's got to get ahead. Two, his location on his pitches has got to get better," Martinez said. "It's not that he can't do it, because I've seen him do it. We've all seen him do it. He's got good stuff. But his location has got to get better.”

Law did eventually get a ground ball for a potential double play, but Luis García Jr.’s throw to first ended up near the Mets dugout to allow another run to score for a 5-2 lead.

Those three runs were too much for the Nats to overcome in the later innings, especially after Tyrone Taylor hit an RBI triple off Jacob Barnes in the eighth to make it 6-2. Which is a shame because all of that in the sixth happened after the bottom half of the lineup was able to score early for a change.

Keibert Ruiz and Lane Thomas (hitting sixth while James Wood took over the No. 2 spot) singled off Severino in the fourth. And with two outs, Juan Yepez hit a bloop RBI single to right. Tyrone Taylor tried to throw out Ruiz at home, but the ball got away from Alvarez. And without Severino backing up the throw, Thomas was able to scamper around to give the Nats a 2-1 lead.

“I thought we're gonna jump him there," Martinez said of Severino. "We scored a couple of runs. And then he settled back in, kept us to just those two runs.”

“I thought he pitched well," Thomas said. "It seemed like, I want to say he threw a lot of balls but I feel like effective balls, if that makes sense. … It got a little basic for the sixth hole, but I feel like that was kind of (it), he just kept the damage low. And we looked up, it was the seventh inning.

The two Nats runs actually were enough for Corbin through the first five innings. After leaving a sinker right over the plate for Brandon Nimmo to hit for a homer in the first, the left-hander only gave up four hits and a walk through the end of the fifth. His slider was getting whiffs and his cutter was his putaway pitch to the Mets’ righty-heavy lineup.

“I thought they had some good at-bats there," Corbin said. "I made some pitches. They had some good swings there. We got into a little trouble there, but just maybe try to look back, see what we could have done a little different. But I felt pretty good overall. ... Maybe different pitches in those situations there in that sixth, but we'll see.”

That probably was the time to pull Corbin and give Law a fresh frame. Because with the way this offense isn't producing, what eventually happened in the sixth inning left the Nationals as losers of four of their last five games and 12 of their last 16. They are now 2-7 against the Mets this year and nine games under .500.

“The thing is that we had five hits, two runs. That's the big thing," Martinez said. "We got to hit. We got to score some runs. Yesterday we scored some runs late. Today we got on Severino a little bit there and then the at-bats went away again. So we gotta put the pressure on the other team. I said it before: When the bullpen comes in and they're scratching and clawing to save the games like that, our offense got to pick them up. They got to pick them up.”

“I think we're kind of searching for that right now," Thomas said, referring to the offensive consistency the team lacks currently. "I think sometimes those hits just needed to fall when you have guys on base and not when you don't have guys on base. So I think it's just as simple as that. It's just trying to take better at-bats with guys in scoring position.”

Game 94 lineups: Nats at Mets
Wood batting second, Thomas drops to sixth

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