Parker dominates Astros for second MLB win (updated)

Mitchell Parker

Given the circumstances, it was fair to wonder if Mitchell Parker’s impressive major league debut last week was a bit flukish. Was that five-inning victory before a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium as good as it was ever going to get for the Nationals’ 2020 fifth-round draft pick?

Given what he just accomplished today in his follow-up start against the Astros, it feels more appropriate to start wondering if this just might actually be the start of something really special.

With seven scoreless innings on only 73 pitches, Parker led the Nats to an easy 6-0 victory, improved to 2-0 as a big leaguer and authored Chapter 2 in what has suddenly become the most compelling – and unexpected – pitching story in recent club history.

"It doesn't seem like anything really fazes him," manager Davey Martinez said. "He goes out there and he challenges hitters. He competes. He's been giving us what we need."

The 24-year-old left-hander was in complete control throughout his home debut. He surrendered three hits (all singles). He allowed only one runner to reach scoring position. He didn’t issue a walk for the second straight outing. And he pounded the strike zone in a manner rarely seen in these parts.

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With opposite-field blast, García continues hot start to season

Luis-Garcia-Jr

LOS ANGELES – Base hits to the opposite field are nothing out of the ordinary for Luis García Jr. Given his bat control, a little flick of the wrists is often all he needs to poke an outside pitch to left field for a simple single.

What García did Monday night at Dodger Stadium, on the other hand, was a welcome development. The Nationals second baseman hit his first home run of 2024, and he did so with a three-run shot to left-center.

García's blast, on a 3-2 slider from Los Angeles’ Tyler Glasnow, capped what arguably was one of the best at-bats of his major league career. Facing the flamethrowing right-hander, with two on and two out in the top of the fifth, García fell behind in the count, then took three straight pitches down and in to work his way back into a favorable count. He fouled off a 3-1 fastball at the knees. Then he got the full-count slider up and out over the plate and mashed it 103.9 mph toward left-center, where it cleared the fence for a key home runs in the Nats’ 6-4 victory.

“It felt great,” García said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “In that moment, I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere, drive in those two runs and try to help the team increase the lead in that moment. He left the pitch there, and I was able to drive it. I was very excited to be able to do that in that moment.”

Power displays have become a rare thing for García, whose priority at times seems to be making contact more so than making loud contact. But he does have the ability to hit the ball hard in the air; he just has to take the right swing on the right pitch to make it happen.

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Parker stares down Dodgers and wins MLB debut for Nats (updated)

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LOS ANGELES – Far more highly touted pitchers have made their major league debuts for the Nationals in the last 14 years than Mitchell Parker. There were first-round picks (Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge) and there were high-profile trade acquisitions (Joe Ross).

But none of them – plus a host of others in between – was able to do what Parker did tonight. Not since Stephen Strasburg’s historic performance on June 8, 2010, had a rookie starter made his big league debut for the Nationals and been credited with a win.

That Parker was the one to finally snap a streak that had reached 17 winless debuts was remarkable enough. That he did it by beating one of the most intimidating lineups he’s likely to ever see during the course of his career made this truly special.

With five strong innings of two-run ball, this previously unknown, 24-year-old left-hander led the Nats to a stirring, 6-4 victory over the Dodgers on Jackie Robinson Day and authored his name into club lore in the process.

"The kid has a very low heartbeat," manager Davey Martinez said. "I've known that for a while. Nothing seems to faze him. ... That's a tough team to face. And he did really, really well."

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Corbin gives Nats length, but bats give lefty no support (updated)

Patrick Corbin

Patrick Corbin pitched deeper into a game tonight than anyone else in the Nationals rotation had through the season’s first week. He did so against the best lineup the Nats have faced to date in 2024. This should have been, by all accounts, a good night for the home team.

It mattered not how Corbin pitched in this one, though. Not when his teammates did nothing of consequence at the plate against Aaron Nola or the Phillies bullpen, which mowed down the Nationals lineup during a 4-0 victory that felt way too comfortable for the visitors (aside from the bitter cold and wind on a 48-degree Friday evening).

The three runs Corbin surrendered in the top of the second were all the Phillies needed, even though they added another when manager Davey Martinez allowed his starter to return for the top of the seventh and watched him give up another run in short order before finally turning to his bullpen.

Thus did Corbin fail to get credit for a quality start, an achievement nobody in this rotation has earned yet. Nationals starters own a collective 7.60 ERA through seven games, a number eclipsed only by the Rockies at this early juncture of the season.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Nats are 2-5.

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Gore sharp in final spring tune-up as big leaguers win Futures Game (Lipscomb to minors camp)

gore pitches blue

It was a fun day on South Capitol Street, as the Nationals played the first-ever “On Deck: Nationals Futures Game” for their final exhibition outing before starting the regular season Thursday in Cincinnati.

The Nationals’ major leaguers were set to play a team full of the organization’s top prospects, many of whom spent the majority of spring training in big league camp. There were smiles all around this morning as the youngsters prepped for the game in the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park, while the major league team got settled into the home locker room with bags packed for tomorrow’s early morning flight to Cincy.

But once the game started, the niceties between organizational teammates disappeared for the next 2 hours and 35 minutes as the major league team flexed its muscles while dominating the Futures Team 13-1 in front of an announced paid crowd of 10,294 at Nats Park.

“It was good,” said major league manager Davey Martinez. “We had some good at-bats. I thought we played really well. The key was to get some at-bats, see some pitches. We had a day off yesterday, but I saw some really good things. And the young kids, they stood up there and they weren't afraid. The guys that we had, they swung the bats well. Our kids got up there and they got their swings. So it was a good day.”

MacKenzie Gore set the tone early in his final tune-up before taking the ball Monday for the Nats’ home opener against the Pirates. Facing top prospects Robert Hassell III, Dylan Crews, James Wood and Trey Lipscomb, the left-hander recorded three strikeouts in the first frame while only surrendering an opposite-field double to Wood.

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Regulars get work in before Nats head north

corbin pitches blue

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Nationals’ goal for today’s Grapefruit League finale was pretty simple: Get guys in, get them out, get them on a plane to D.C.

Though most of the regulars made the 45-minute trip to Mets camp, all were out of the game by the bottom of the fourth and hitting the showers so they could catch the early bus back to West Palm Beach. After that was the scheduled charter flight home, setting the stage for Tuesday’s final exhibition at Nationals Park and then Thursday’s season opener in Cincinnati.

So there wasn’t a whole lot to evaluate from what wound up a 10-1 loss. As long as everybody emerged healthy, everybody would be happy.

Patrick Corbin didn’t mind that he allowed three runs and seven hits in only four innings. The veteran left-hander knew he was scheduled for only four frames today. He would’ve preferred a slightly lower pitch count than his final total of 86, but the extra work wasn’t the worst thing, either.

“We were thinking four and 60,” he said. “So, some more pitches than I thought. But it was definitely good to at least get one more game, a real spring game, in. I’m ready to go, ready for Saturday.”

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Twins in West Palm Beach

Trevor Williams Blues

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The competition for the final spot in the Nationals rotation seemed to create some clarity Wednesday night when Zach Davies was roughed up by the Cardinals for nine runs (seven of those coming during a torturous top of the fourth). Then again, it’s still up to Trevor Williams today to perform well enough to lock up the job.

A weak performance from Williams against the Twins could throw another wrench into this process and leave club officials still to decide which veteran right-hander should be the No. 5 starter after all. And there’s a domino effect to all this as well, because Williams would move to the bullpen if he’s not in the rotation, taking a precious spot away from someone else still in camp competing down to the wire.

Speaking of competitions going down to the wire, Luis García Jr. may need a good showing today to shift the narrative back in his direction and away from Trey Lipscomb, who had a huge night Wednesday and appears to be making a really strong case to make the team as the starting second baseman. García should be feeling the heat by now; let’s see how he handles it.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MINNESOTA TWINS
Where:
CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: None
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, wind 10 mph in from right field

NATIONALS
SS CJ Abrams
RF Lane Thomas
LF Jesse Winker
1B Joey Gallo
C Keibert Ruiz
DH Eddie Rosario
2B Luis García Jr.
3B Ildemaro Vargas
CF Victor Robles

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García, Robles get muted vote of confidence from Rizzo

Luis Garcia spring training

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – With less than two weeks remaining in spring training, the two members of the Nationals’ projected lineup most in danger of losing their jobs got a muted vote of confidence from general manager Mike Rizzo, who nonetheless made it clear he needs to see more improvement from Luis García Jr. and Victor Robles.

García and Robles came to camp with an edict from club officials to show long-sought improvement, told they would be pushed by others in search of their starting jobs over the course of the spring. Each has enjoyed some success at the plate – García is 8-for-29 with two doubles and a homer, Robles is 6-for-18 with a homer and three walks – but each has come under some criticism following fundamental mistakes.

Asked about both García, 23, and Robles, 26, this afternoon, Rizzo expressed disappointment in those mistakes while also acknowledging their relative inexperience.

“I think they’re playing hard, they’re playing well,” Rizzo said. “We have to eliminate the mental lapses and the mental mistakes. But when you think about it, they’re both still young men chronologically. Although they seem like they’ve been here forever, they’re still young people. Luis is still 23 years old. If they didn’t have ability, obviously you wouldn’t be putting up with the mental mistakes that they make. But they have a lot of ability. They’ve shown it in the past at this level. We just have to get them over that, because that’s not helping the team.”

García in particular came under fire last week after committing errors on back-to-back plays, then getting picked off first base the following day.

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Crews hits first homer, Corbin continues cutter work in win

Dylan Crews spring training

JUPITER, Fla. – Dylan Crews has grabbed a lot of attention at Nationals spring training, and rightfully so as last summer’s No. 2 overall pick. But it’s been James Wood who has taken a lot of the spotlight with the highlight reel he has put together so far in camp.

It was only a matter of time before Crews joined him.

The Nationals’ top prospect finally hit his first home run in Grapefruit League play this afternoon in what would be a 9-3 win over the Marlins at damp Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

“It felt pretty good,” Crews said of his first dinger. “I was hoping a little sooner than later, but it felt good to get a barrel in and help the team win today. I think the off-day helped a lot just physically and mentally just to kind of get the feet underneath me again. But yeah, it was a great day to day all around: pitching, defensively and the bats were really hot today. So it was a great day.”

Facing former Nats farmhand Jesús Luzardo, Crews hit a low-and-outside 3-1 changeup to straightaway center field. The ball came 102.4 mph off his bat and landed 393 feet away, just over the fence and out of reach of the glove of a leaping Victor Mesa Jr.

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