Game 22 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO – Nobody’s ever going to say they prefer a nine-game road trip to a 10-game homestand, but this might just be the exception to the rule. After a dismal 2-8 stretch capped with eight consecutive losses in D.C., the Nationals now embark on a three-city West Coast trip against the Giants, Rockies and Angels. It’s a daunting stretch, to be sure, but at this point it can’t be any worse than what just happened, right? (He says cringing.)

The Nats were swept by the Giants last weekend, but San Francisco’s roster will look a little different this time. Joc Pederson, who had a huge series at Nationals Park, is out with an adductor strain. Also there appears to be concern about a COVID-19 outbreak in the home clubhouse, with at least three players impacted so far.

Aaron Sanchez makes his second start for the Nats, each of them coincidentally against the team he pitched for last season. The veteran right-hander was OK in his debut, allowing one run through four innings before hitting a wall in the fifth and ultimately taking a 5-2 loss. Sanchez’s arm should be built up for more than the 64 pitches he threw in that one, so hopefully he can at least complete five innings tonight.

It’s really about the lineup, though, a group that has scored a grand total of 16 runs during this eight-game losing streak. (And even the last game the Nationals won came by the score of 1-0.) Manager Davey Martinez continues to look for some combination that gets things going, but let’s be honest. Nothing’s going to happen until the triumvirate of Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz and Josh Bell are all hitting in sync. Soto and Bell have had their moments so far, but Soto has struggled of late. And Cruz continues to search at the plate, hitting a ton of balls into the ground instead of elevating them. He’ll hope to get on track tonight against Giants lefty Alex Wood, who faced Sanchez last weekend and allowed two runs in five innings (one of them on a homer by Riley Adams).

If you didn’t already know, tonight’s game is only on Apple TV+. Here's a link to watch directly on the device you're currently using …

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Where: Oracle Park
Gametime: 10:15 p.m. EDT
TV: Apple TV+
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees, wind 13 mph out to center field

NATIONALS
2B César Hernández
RF Juan Soto
DH Nelson Cruz
1B Josh Bell
3B Maikel Franco
C Keibert Ruiz
LF Lane Thomas
CF Victor Robles
SS Alcides Escobar

RHP Aaron Sanchez

GIANTS
RF Luis González
1B Darin Ruf
DH Wilmer Flores
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Thairo Estrada
LF Jason Krizan
CF Austin Slater
3B Jason Vosler
C Joey Bart

LHP Alex Wood

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