Nationals manager Davey Martinez decided to make an unorthodox move and start left-hander Matt Grace for today's Game 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It will be Grace's first start this season and second of his career. He last started Aug.18, 2017, at San Diego after Max Scherzer was a late scratch with neck inflammation. Grace delivered with 4 1/3 innings without allowing a run on two hits. The Nats beat the Padres 7-1.
Grace has thrown at least two innings six times this season. He got knocked around for five runs on six hits at Philadelphia May 5, but allowed only one earned run on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks in the other five two-inning appearances.
"I just thought if we are ever going to do something like this, looking at their lineup they are very left-handed heavy," Martinez reasoned. "It's a perfect opportunity (and I) thought about using Matt, I told him, I said 'Hey, go as long as you can go. I'll keep an eye on you.' He was all for it, excited about it. He's done it before. Last time he started he went 4 1/3 innings, shutout, two hits. Hopefully we get a repeat performance."
Martinez was not set on how many innings for Grace, but if the southpaw can go at least two frames that would be preferable.
"Well, we'll see," Martinez said. "If we get a situation where we have an opportunity to pinch-hit early, we pinch-hit early and then we'll go from there. I want him to go out there and pitch. Not worry about when he's getting taken out. Just go out there and get outs for us."
The skipper said Joe Ross will "eventually" appear in the game, "We will see how it plays out."
Martinez said the decision to start Grace took about a week of planning and was based on how many left-handed hitters that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts puts out on his lineup card. There are six left-handed hitting Dodgers in today's lineup including three in a row in the heart: Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Corey Seager.
"When I do all the research on different teams and who we are playing, and who we are playing next, I thought looking at the Dodgers and their lineup I thought this will be a perfect opportunity to see how things play out," Martinez said. "When Matt is good he gets righties out just as good as lefties. I thought this was a great opportunity to get him out there. Got a lot of confidence in Matt or else we wouldn't be doing this. I thought it would work out good for us.
"I put some thought into it. I didn't want to say anything before but I contemplated for about five or six days. Then last night I sat in the office and I talked to Matt and told him what we were going to do. He was up for it."
Martinez said Ross would have started if Grace had pitched last night for the Nats.
"The thing is if the game went extra innings and Matt had to pitch yesterday we wouldn't be having this conversation," the skipper said.
Update: Grace notched six outs in a row against the Dodgers, allowing no hits, no runs and striking out three. Ross arrived in the third frame and allowed a solo homer to Will Smith.
Trea Turner singled and Adam Eaton tripled to get the Nats on the board in the first inning off Clayton Kershaw. Juan Soto brought Eaton home with a sacrifice fly to deep right-center field.
After three innings, the Nats lead the Dodgers 2-1.
Update II: The Dodgers like what they see from Ross better than Grace. In the fourth, Max Muncy smacked an RBI single and Corey Seager drilled a run-scoring double. he went to third on an error by Eaton. Smith brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Mid-fourth, the Dodgers lead the Nats 4-2.
Update III: In the sixth, Smith sliced an RBI double past a diving Robles in right-center field to score Muncy. Smith has two extra base hits and three RBIs.
Mid-sixth, the Dodgers extend their lead to 5-2 over the Nats.
Update IV: Smith delivered an RBI double in the sixth and lined a three-run double in the seventh as the Dodgers poured it on. Smith has three hits and six RBIs.
Yan Gomes homered in the bottom of the seventh.
After seven, the Dodgers lead the Nats 9-3.
Update V: Pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled to lead off the ninth inning but that was erased by Gomes' 5-4-3 double play. AdriÃ¡n Sanchez struck out to end the game.
Final score: The Dodgers 9, the Nats 3.
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