Nationals manager Davey Martinez spent his morning Zoom session with reporters detailing his pitching plans for today's doubleheader against the Mets. After a suspended game on Tuesday and last night's postponement, the mound plans had been thrown into a state of flux.
Of course, like much of this season, nothing really ever goes according to plan for the Nationals. But today, the pitching plan held up: Sean Nolin and three relievers got through the first game and Erick Fedde got through four innings to set up a relatively fresh bullpen in the second game.
Even the offense, going quiet for the first 13 innings of today's twinbill, eventually woke up to give the Nats a chance in the series finale. But it was all for naught, as they dropped the second game 5-4 on Pete Alonso's walk-off home run off Kyle Finnegan in the bottom of the seventh and were swept in the doubleheader and the series.
Fedde delivered a pretty strong outing by covering four innings in a seven-inning game. His position in the order came up in advantageous spot in the fifth inning, forcing Martinez to send pinch-hitter Yadiel Hernandez to the plate and cut the right-hander's outing short.
Efficient throughout the outing on just 68 pitches, Fedde only gave up two runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts. He was on the same page with catcher Tres Barrera all afternoon.
The only trouble came in the fourth with three straight hits (two of them doubles by Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis) to start the inning to give a 1-0 lead to the Mets, who then doubled it on an RBI by James McCann.
"I was really happy with my stuff, especially early," Fedde said in his postgame Zoom session with reporters. "I thought I made a lot of good pitches. The back-to-back doubles, I'm a little mad at myself for letting Conforto back into the at-bat when I had him 0-2. Then I really missed my spot against Davis. But outside of that, I was pretty happy with my outing."
After Gabe Klobosits pitched a perfect fifth inning on seven pitches (all strikes), Tanner Rainey - serving as the 27th man and making his first major league appearances since blowing a save in the back end of a doubleheader against the Phillies on July 29 - gave up a two-run home run to Jonathan Villar to seemingly put this one out of reach.
But ever scrappy and facing their second straight 4-1 loss, the Nats bats were able to tie the game in the seventh. After Gerardo Parra drew an eight-pitch walk to load the bases, Jeurys Familia entered the game to close out the win. But after getting Victor Robles to pop out to the catcher and while facing Andrew Stevenson, Familia threw a wild pitch to allow Luis GarcÃa to score and then gave up a two-run single to Stevenson to tie the game.
"It's gonna be a learning process for a lot of these guys and that's what you're seeing," Martinez said. "The one good thing I can say about them is they're playing hard. They feel like they're in every game, which we are, and it's just gonna be a learning process for them. You know, one or two bad pitches today, or one or two good pitches the other way, (and) we win the ballgame. So we gotta keep battling."
The Nats' first run came in the fifth inning after back-to-back hits by AdriÃ¡n Sanchez and Barrera set up a sacrifice fly by Hernandez to cut the Mets' lead in half. But that would be it.
Before the three-run seventh inning, Juan Soto was the Nationals' only legitimate threat at the plate and the Mets knew it. They pitched around the slugger all day, leading to five walks this afternoon (one intentional in the second game) and six for the series.
Ryan Zimmerman, setting a new franchise record with his 1,768th career game played, batted right behind Soto and struck out after each of his three walks in the nightcap of the doubleheader, ending any chance of the Nats scoring with a free runner on base.
Finnegan retired the first batter in the seventh, but fell behind 2-0 and delivered an inside sinker to Alonso, who crushed it 422 feet to left field for the walk-off victory.
"I'm happy with the pitch there," Finnegan said. "Was trying to go up and in on him. I think it got there, maybe not quite enough. But he's a big guy, he swings hard, he got just enough on it. If we've got five extra feet of fence there and maybe it's a flyout. So he made a good play for his team. I was happy with the pitch and he made a good play."
It's been an unusual and frustrating week for the Nationals in the Big Apple. It won't be a happy trip home, having lost nine out of 10 games. But they'll be happy this road trip is over and they can put this series behind them as they return to D.C.
"It's never fun losing ballgames, so I think it's tough. Not a good feeling postgame in the clubhouse," Fedde said. "But I still think we have a lot of guys who are excited to go out and prove themselves and try to make a name (for themselves), I guess you could say. So it makes the lead-up to the games enjoyable. Hopefully, the end result gets a little better."