More on Monday night's eventful loss

Monday night’s 8-7 loss to the Mets was one of the Nationals’ more eventful games of the season, featuring an odd combination of encouraging, discouraging and frustrating moments along the way.

Let’s look back at some of the developments worthy of a second look …

* Drew Millas’ rough night
Making his first start behind the plate since his promotion Sunday from Triple-A Rochester, the rookie catcher was front and center for much of the game. And he did not enjoy a particularly good game.

At the plate, Millas went 0-for-4 with a walk, but he wound up as the guy in the batter’s box with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, the bases loaded and his team trailing by one run. He proceeded to strike out on three pitches, including a 97-mph fastball down the pipe from left-hander Jake Diekman that he watched sail by for a killer strikeout.

“I think my swing got a little big,” the switch-hitter said of his approach to the first two pitches of the at-bat. “I haven’t batted righty in a while, but that’s no excuse. I feel very confident right-handed to get the job done in that scenario. There’s zero excuse there.”

Behind the plate, Millas was put to the test as well. With MacKenzie Gore battling command issues from the get go, he had to try to block a number of pitches in the dirt. Gore wound up charged with two wild pitches.

Millas also had three attempts to throw out basestealers. Though his arm clearly looked stronger than either Keibert Ruiz or Riley Adams’ arms, his aim was wayward: All three throws went to the third-base side of the second base, giving middle infielders little chance of getting the tag down in time.

* A lot of loud outs
The Nationals have been known to hit into their share of ground ball outs this season, and they’ve been known not to hit the ball in the air with much authority. They actually did a better job of that in this game; they just didn’t have a lot to show for it.

Joey Gallo did connect for a two-run homer in the fourth. It was only his fifth home run of the season, and more importantly his first home run that flipped a deficit into a lead.

Gallo also hit a ball to the warning track in the sixth, a common theme for the entire lineup in this game. Five different guys flied out to the warning track over the final five innings alone, including Joey Meneses’ sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth (which traveled 374 feet).

For the game, the Nats hit six balls with an exit velocity over 100 mph, four of those topping 105 mph. Only two of them turned into hits: Gallo’s homer in the fourth and Lane Thomas’ single in the third.

“I thought we hit the ball really well,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We lined out a few times. Overall, I thought our at-bats were good today.”

* A Tanner Rainey sighting
It had been 13 days since the right-hander last pitched. And with the Nationals down only three runs and facing a shaky Mets bullpen, you had to wonder if Martinez felt this game was too competitive to use the last man in his eight-man relief corps.

But Rainey did come in to pitch the top of the ninth trailing 8-5. And he proceeded to post a zero, allowing one single but retiring the other three batters he faced and hitting 95 mph with his fastball while throwing more strikes (12) than balls (nine).

It was a baby step, to be sure, but it was a positive step for someone who desperately needed one. Now we wait and see how long it is before Rainey is given another opportunity to pitch.

* Two regulars still sidelined
With a chance to rally in the bottom of the ninth, Martinez played whatever remaining cards he had on his bench. He had Meneses pinch-hit for Gallo with the bases loaded. He had Nasim Nunez pinch-run for Jesse Winker. But he did not use either CJ Abrams or Jacob Young, suggesting neither was healthy enough to play yet.

Abrams (left shoulder) was out of the lineup for the third straight day, and Young (right hand) was out for the second straight day. Either could have pinch-run for Keibert Ruiz in the ninth or could have pinch-hit for Millas with two outs in the final inning. (That, though, would’ve required Ruiz to remain in the game and become the catcher, vacating the DH spot.)

It didn’t matter in the end, because neither Abrams nor Young appear to have been available. We’ll wait and see how they’re doing today, but if one or both are unavailable again, the Nats may have no choice but to consider an IL move.

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