Rare bullpen collapse spoils Abrams' clutch homer (updated)

weems pitching white

A game that looked like it might hinge on a controversial fan interference call then looked like it might hinge on a long-awaited clutch homer from the Nationals’ best all-around player. Until it ultimately hinged on the first runs scored off one of the most effective (but also most-used) relievers in the majors in a long time.

Today’s 9-5 loss to the Mariners included some wild swings of emotion over the course of the final hour of play. The Nationals looked lifeless most of the afternoon at the plate, then were brought back to life by CJ Abrams, whose three-run homer in the seventh put them in position to complete a weekend sweep of Seattle.

But Dylan Floro’s shaky top of the eighth – a rarity if ever there was one – flipped the script again and left the Nats to accept a tough loss, though still a series win before they hit the road for Atlanta.

"We put some good at-bats together late in the game," manager Davey Martinez said. "We just couldn't finish today."

Because he had enjoyed such a dominant opening month to the season, it was only natural not to make too big a deal out of Abrams’ miserable follow-up month. Make no mistake, though, Abrams was bothered by his complete drop-off in production from April (when he slashed .295/.373/.619) to May (in which he had slashed .209/.225/.481 entering today’s game.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Winker sits with left quad cramp, Thomas back in D.C. after rehab

winker swinging white

Jesse Winker is out of the Nationals lineup today. Lane Thomas could be back in the Nationals lineup Monday.

Winker is sitting for the team’s series finale against the Mariners with a cramp in his left quad, an injury that forced his departure in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 3-1 victory.

“It basically was a cramp, but he’s still a little sore,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I talked to him this morning. He’s going to be available to pinch-hit today. I’d rather do that than have him go out there and something else happens. Let him get through the day, and then he can come off the bench and help us.”

Winker had an active day at the ballpark. He beat out a well-placed drag bunt for a single in the second inning. He singled to center and stole second in the seventh, then advanced to third on Keibert Ruiz’s bloop single to center.

Those final 90 feet, though, may have been too much for Winker, who didn’t look comfortable once he got to third base. The Nationals sent Victor Robles in to pinch-run for him in what at the time was still a 1-1 game. Robles would score the go-ahead run on Ildemaro Vargas’ grounder to short.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Game 51 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

corbin pitching blue

The Nationals haven’t been in this position for a while, having already won the first two games of a series and now having a chance at a sweep with another win in the finale. They’ve positioned themselves like this by beating the Mariners twice in a row behind stellar pitching. MacKenzie Gore and Trevor Williams each gave up one run, each via a solo homer, and nothing else. And the bullpen has put up nothing but zeroes so far in the series.

Can Patrick Corbin be counted upon to do the same today? That’s a big ask for the left-hander, who was roughed up by the Twins in his last start. The good news: Corbin did shut out the Mariners last season in Seattle, tossing seven scoreless innings while striking out nine in one of his best outings ever.

Right-hander Bryan Woo is on the mound for the Mariners, and he faced the Nats during that same series last summer and allowed only one earned run over five innings. The 24-year-old opened this season on the injured list with an elbow ailment, but he’s been outstanding since returning, allowing just one run and eight baserunners in 15 2/3 innings.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. SEATTLE MARINERS
Where:
Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, wind 4 mph right field to left field

NATIONALS
SS CJ Abrams
RF Eddie Rosario
DH Joey Meneses
2B Luis García Jr.
LF Ildemaro Vargas
3B Nick Senzel
1B Joey Gallo
C Riley Adams
CF Victor Robles

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Nats outsmart, outhit Mariners late to win second straight (updated)

winker bunting gray

Too often this month the Nationals have put themselves in a position to score the late run they need to overcome an opponent, only to squander the prime opportunity with low-quality at-bats.

This time, they delivered when it mattered. And they did so in part by outsmarting the opposition.

During a critical sequence in the bottom of the seventh, Davey Martinez pressed all the right buttons that allowed the Nats to turn a tie game into a 3-1 victory over the Mariners, ensuring a series victory and a potential sweep Sunday afternoon.

"It kind of reminds me of the days we had the pitcher hitting," Martinez said. "A little National League game. It's fun when everyone's engaged and guys are playing well. Today, these guys were playing well."

Trevor Williams did his part to give his team a chance to win yet again with five strong innings of one-run ball. The bullpen did its part not to ruin Williams’ start. And the guys who stepped to the plate with the game on the line made sure none of it went to waste.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Gray faces live hitters for first time, Cavalli strikes out eight in rehab start

gray pitching blue

It wasn’t much, only 23 pitches to a pair of hitters standing in front of a screen as several coaches and trainers watched from behind. For Josiah Gray, though, this was a significant step: His first time facing live batters since going on the injured list more than six weeks ago.

“Definitely put a smile on my face,” the Nationals right-hander said, “being able to get some pep back in my step and know that I’m able to go out there and face hitters. That’s what I love to do. That’s what I like: To just go out there and compete. So just a really, really important day, and I’m definitely going to enjoy this one.”

On the 15-day IL since mid-April with a flexor strain in his right elbow, Gray was cleared to start throwing again in short order. And he has been throwing off a bullpen mound for several weeks now.

But the Nationals wanted to hold off before taking this next step, wanting to make sure the 26-year-old was both in good physical shape and with clean pitching mechanics first.

“The thing is, we really want to try to keep this as more of a prevention thing,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We don’t want him to get hurt again. So we wanted to make sure we took time, that he was in his legs, that everything was sound. And then we can build up from there.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Game 50 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

williams pitching blue

Just about everything that could go right for the Nationals on Friday night did go right. MacKenzie Gore tossed seven innings of one-run ball. Luis García Jr., Keibert Ruiz and Eddie Rosario all hit homers. Hunter Harvey and Dylan Floro each tossed a scoreless inning of relief. And the Nats cruised to an easy 6-1 victory over the Mariners.

Now, can they do it again and actually build some positive momentum for the first time in a couple weeks?

Davey Martinez would love to keep the offense going like this against Logan Gilbert. The right-hander faced the Nationals last summer in Seattle and gave up four runs in six innings. García, Ruiz, Ildemaro Vargas and Riley Adams were all in the lineup that afternoon.

Trevor Williams also pitched in that series, also struggling. The right-hander allowed three runs on eight hits in only four innings, throwing a whopping 83 pitches in the process. Williams, of course, has been a very different pitcher this season, so he will hope to look more like that version of himself this afternoon.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. SEATTLE MARINERS
Where:
Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 86 degrees, wind 9 mph out to left field

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Nats mixing rotation to give Parker extra rest

parker pitching white

After the Nationals finished their three-game series against the Twins on Wednesday, their presumed starting pitchers for this weekend’s three-game series against the Mariners were MacKenzie Gore, Trevor Williams and Mitchell Parker.

But Thursday’s off-day gave manager Davey Martinez a chance to switch things up and give one of his young starters some extra rest before his next start.

Patrick Corbin will now start Sunday’s finale against Seattle on normal rest, with Parker starting the opener in Atlanta on Memorial Day.

“I just wanted to give Parker an extra day,” Martinez said before Friday’s 6-1 win. “You know, he hasn't done this (starting in the major leagues). So I thought it'd be nice to give him an extra day.”

Parker made his last start on Monday (six innings, seven hits, three runs, one walk and seven strikeouts in a win over the Twins), so he’ll actually get two extra days of rest before retaking the hill Monday.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Big blasts and Gore's gem lead Nats to win over Mariners (updated)

garcía homer blue

Maybe the Nationals offense just needed an off-day to reset. But they had three this month prior to Thursday’s day off and they didn’t help much.

Whatever they needed to do to get the offense going Friday night against the Mariners, they needed to do it in the worst way before embarking on a stretch of 17 scheduled games over the next 17 days.

Entering tonight’s opener of a three-game series to start this holiday weekend, the Nationals were losers of nine of their last 11 games. In seven of those games, they scored two or fewer runs. They were also 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position over their last two games against the Twins, both losses.

So when an early opportunity to score runs in bunches presented itself tonight, you can forgive the crowd of 23,789 if they weren’t too confident the Nats could capitalize.

But Luis García Jr. proved them wrong, giving them a reason to celebrate with a three-run home run in the fourth inning. Keibert Ruiz then hit a much-needed two-run homer in the sixth. And finally, Eddie Rosario put this one away for good with a longball in the eighth to help propel the Nationals to a 6-1 win over the Mariners.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Thomas continues rehab, Wood out with hamstring tightness

thomas on second gray

Members of the local media walked into the Nationals clubhouse this afternoon expecting to see a familiar face back at his locker. But lo and behold, it was the same 26-man group getting ready for tonight’s series opener against the Mariners.

Lane Thomas will continue his minor league rehab assignment over the next couple of days, manager Davey Martinez announced, ending speculation that the outfielder would rejoin the team for the holiday weekend.

Finally cleared to return to game action since landing on the 10-day injured list on April 24 with a left MCL sprain, Thomas has made three rehab appearances with Double-A Harrisburg this week, going 2-for-9 with a double, a walk, two strikeouts, a stolen base and an outfield assist. He played a full nine innings for the first time Thursday night. He's leading off and serving as the designated hitter tonight.

“He played nine innings yesterday. He's feeling better,” Martinez said during his pregame media session. “Just as I thought, playing nine innings, being on his feet, he's a little sore. But he's getting there. He wanted to play a couple more games and then we'll see how he comes out of it. I know they got a day off on Monday, so we'll re-evaluate him after this weekend. But he's doing good. He's getting some at-bats. He's gonna play nine innings again today. We'll go day-by-day with him.”

The Nationals offense could use Thomas right now. They have scored two or fewer runs in seven of their last 11 games, losing nine overall. And although the 29-year-old got off to a slow start this year (.184 average, .503 OPS, two home runs, 10 RBIs), he was their most productive hitter last year. At the very least, he could provide more protection in the lineup for the slumping CJ Abrams.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Game 49 lineups: Nats vs. Mariners

gore pitching white

The Nationals need to break out of this offensive slump in the worst way. Despite scoring 12 runs in a blowout win over the Twins on Monday, they have scored two or fewer runs in seven of their last 11 games, losing nine overall. They have scored the second-fewest runs in the National League this season (Cardinals) and are in the lower third of the league with a .237 average with runners in scoring position.

The Nats will try again to get going tonight against Mariners starter George Kirby, who has been a mixed bag to start the year. While the young right-hander has four shutout starts, he also has four outings with four or more earned runs charged to his line, leading to an ERA of 3.99.

The offensive woes are especially frustrating since the Nats have received some solid pitching performances that have gone to waste lately: The pitching staff has given up four or fewer runs in nine of the last 11 games. MacKenzie Gore will look to continue that trend on the mound in his 10th turn in the rotation while coming off back-to-back quality starts for the first time this year.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. SEATTLE MARINERS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 6:45 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, DC 87.7 (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, wind 5 mph from right to left field

NATIONALS
SS CJ Abrams
RF Eddie Rosario
DH Joey Meneses
2B Luis García Jr. 
LF Jesse Winker
C Keibert Ruiz
3B Nick Senzel
1B Joey Gallo 
CF Jacob Young

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Nats face decision with Thomas, corresponding move

Lane Thomas

The Nationals need more offense right now, nobody’s disputing that. They’ve lost nine of their last 11 games, and in seven of those losses they’ve scored two or fewer runs. (Their pitching staff, meanwhile, has given up four or fewer runs in all but two of these last 11 games, so you can’t really place any blame on that unit.)

Given the current state of affairs, it’s going to take more than one hot bat to turn the lineup around. Far too many regulars are slumping, and there isn’t one magic bullet waiting in the wings to save the day. (Not even James Wood, though you’d have to believe he would help way more than he’d hurt the team right now.)

The Nationals should be getting one proven hitter back in their lineup soon, though. Perhaps as soon as tonight. Lane Thomas is just about ready to return from his knee injury, and his return will be fully embraced by his team.

“He’s a big piece to our lineup,” manager Davey Martinez said earlier this week. “He’s been that 2-hole guy, and he and CJ (Abrams) have seemed to work well together. Hopefully we get him back soon, because we definitely miss him. When he’s in the lineup, it stretches our lineup a lot.”

Indeed, Thomas’ absence since he sprained the MCL in his left knee one month ago has been noticeable, even though he wasn’t performing up to his past standards, producing a mere .503 OPS in 22 games. Martinez has scrambled to find someone else to bat second behind Abrams, from Jesse Winker to Nick Senzel to Ildemaro Vargas to Eddie Rosario.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Checking in on the Nats' top prospects

James-Wood-Rochester

While the Nationals enjoy Thursday’s off-day (and hopefully use it to break out of their offensive slump), let’s take a long overdue look at some of the top prospects down on the farm and not just the ones you know we’re going to talk about …

“You talk about the players, everybody talks about the one guy, but we got quite a few,” said manager Davey Martinez.

A Nats minor leaguer received some recognition over the past week, with Andrew Pinckney being named Eastern League Player of the Week on Monday.

“Pinckney won Player of the Week, which is awesome,” said Martinez. “Nobody talks about him, but he's a pretty good player.”

A fourth-round pick last year out of the University of Alabama, Pinckney slashed .429/.478/.905 with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs last week with Double-A Harrisburg. He’s slashing .279/.327/.396 with a .723 OPS, seven doubles, one triple, three homers, 19 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 38 games with the Senators.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Nats drop another low-scoring game and another series (updated)

GettyImages-2154175524

They waited around all afternoon in the summerlike heat and humidity, waiting for the home team to give itself a legitimate chance to score and get itself back into a very winnable game.

And when the situation finally presented itself in the bottom of the seventh, and then again in the bottom of the ninth, the crowd of 21,837 tried to muster up the energy to encourage the Nationals to come through at last in a big spot.

In each case, the air was sucked back out of the ballpark. And by day's end, the Nats had suffered another demoralizing loss, this one by the count of 3-2 in the rubber game of their series against the Twins.

Tuesday night’s 10-0 blowout was no fun at all. But this wasn’t any more enjoyable, not with the Nationals lineup yet again unable to mount any semblance of sustained offense. As has been the case too often the last two weeks, the opportunity to win a low-scoring game was right before their eyes, thanks to another effective pitching performance from Jake Irvin and the bullpen.

But as has too often been the case as well, the Nats simply couldn’t take advantage of it. They’ve now lost nine of their last 11, and in seven of those games they’ve scored two or fewer runs.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Nats hope bullpen depth pays off in long run

rainey and adams

The Nationals’ bullpen hierarchy has been pretty standard in recent seasons. Davey Martinez usually had two or three relievers he relied on to pitch late in close games. The others tended to be used in lopsided games, whether the team was winning or losing.

The gap between the “A” bullpen and “B” bullpen has been shrinking so far this season, though. Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan remain the go-to guys in the eighth and ninth innings, but beyond that Martinez has shown trust in almost everyone else to pitch in situations of consequence.

“Hey, if I put you in the game, it’s because I trust you,” the manager said with a laugh. “But it is nice to know we have some guys who can get big outs at any moment, really.”

Truth be told, Martinez is willing to use seven of the eight members of his current bullpen in close games. Dylan Floro, who has allowed only one run in 23 2/3 innings, has emerged as the top seventh-inning option in front of Harvey and Finnegan. But Derek Law (2.76 ERA), Jacob Barnes (3.14) and Jordan Weems (4.76) all have been used as well. And Robert Garcia remains the choice for matchups against left-handed hitters.

They haven’t all been perfect, but they’ve all shown enough to warrant continued usage. And that, the Nationals hope, will pay off in the long run.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Game 48 lineups: Nats vs. Twins

jake irvin @ LAD

You couldn’t draw up more extreme polar opposites for the first two games of a series than what we just experienced. The Nationals blew out the Twins on Monday night, 12-3. Then the Twins blew out the Nationals on Tuesday night, 10-0. So who knows what to expect in today’s matinee finale?

The Nats have to get a better start from Jake Irvin than they got from Patrick Corbin. Irvin, native of Bloomington, Minn., will be plenty motivated facing his hometown team. He’s coming off a bit of a rough outing in Philadelphia, where he gave up four runs in five innings against a very good lineup. He’ll try to provide some more length this afternoon.

Simeon Woods Richardson, today’s Minnesota starter, has been very good, entering this one with a 2.97 ERA and a 25-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But the right-hander made only one big league appearance last year, and it happened to come against the Nationals. Who roughed him up for five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MINNESOTA TWINS
Where:
Nationals Park

Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, wind 10 mph out to left field

NATIONALS
SS CJ Abrams
RF Eddie Rosario
LF Jesse Winker
DH Joey Meneses
2B Luis García Jr.
3B Ildemaro Vargas
1B Joey Gallo
C Riley Adams
CF Jacob Young

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Corbin rocked as Nats get shut out by Twins (updated)

Patrick Corbin

There hadn’t been a night like this, not for the Nationals and not for Patrick Corbin in a while. The kind of night when you know early on it’s going to be one of those nights. The kind of night that too often defined Corbin’s 2020-23 seasons but seemingly had occurred with less frequency so far in 2024.

It happened tonight, though, and it was no easier to watch than any of the previous ones. The only saving grace: There may not be that many more opportunities for Corbin to experience more of these.

Tonight’s 10-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Twins was perhaps the low point of the season to date for the Nationals, who even when they lose have almost always managed to keep it close. Not so this time, not with Corbin getting rocked by a Minnesota lineup that had scored a total of 12 runs during its now-expired seven-game losing streak.

It didn’t help matters that the exact same Nats lineup that busted out for 12 runs Monday night against Pablo López and the Twins bullpen was completely shut down by Joe Ryan only 24 hours later. Not that it would’ve made a whole lot of difference tonight, because it would’ve required a ton of run support to counteract Corbin’s start.

"Sometimes those days just happen," manager Davey Martinez said. "He's been really good, and really keeping us in games. Today, it just didn't happen."

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Thomas plays five innings in Harrisburg rehab debut

Lane Thomas

Lane Thomas’ first rehab game in Harrisburg didn’t include any hits, but it did include a stolen base, an outfield assist and positive reports about the state of his left knee.

Thomas went 0-for-3 earlier today in his rehab debut, starting in right field for Double-A Harrisburg in an 11 a.m. matinee against Akron.

“He said he felt OK,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We’ll see how he comes out of it tomorrow, and if he’s good, we’ll try to get him at least four at-bats tomorrow.”

Out since April 23 with an MCL sprain in his left knee, Thomas was cleared to begin playing in games this week. He was thrown right into the leadoff spot in the Senators lineup and immediately reached base in the bottom of the first on a throwing error by Akron pitcher Ryan Webb. Thomas then stole second base, providing further evidence his knee is healed.

Thomas grounded out to short in his second at-bat, then grounded out to first base in his third and final at-bat of the day. He played a total of five innings in the field.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Game 47 lineups: Nats vs. Twins

Patrick Corbin

The Nationals ended their losing streak and extended the Twins’ losing streak with a blowout win Monday night. Now they’ll look to make it two in a row and generate some positive momentum for the first time in a couple weeks.

They’ll hand the ball tonight to Patrick Corbin, who has quietly strung together some solid starts. In five outings since April 23, he’s 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA, limiting damage while surrendering only one home run. He’ll look to keep that up against a Twins club that has scored only 12 runs during its seven-game losing streak.

The Nats lineup finally busted out Monday for 12 runs, scoring thanks to a combination of home runs, clutch hitting and aggressive baserunning. They really are at their best when they can do all three things, and they’ll try to do it again tonight against Joe Ryan, Minnesota’s 27-year-old right-hander who has been quite good with a 1.019 WHIP and 58 strikeouts to only seven walks.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MINNESOTA TWINS
Where:
Nationals Park
Gametime: 6:45 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, wind 9 mph out to left field

NATIONALS
SS CJ Abrams
RF Eddie Rosario
LF Jesse Winker
DH Joey Meneses
2B Luis García Jr.
3B Nick Senzel
1B Joey Gallo
C Keibert Ruiz
CF Jacob Young

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

With continued poise, rookie Parker earning Martinez's trust

Mitchell Parker

There were two on with two out in the sixth, the Twins having already scored twice in the inning, now sending their seventh batter of the frame to the plate. Mitchell Parker was up to 89 pitches, and Derek Law was warm in the bullpen.

Davey Martinez has made the walk to the mound more often than not in those situations in recent seasons. A fading young starter typically gives way to a more experienced reliever in an attempt to get out of a jam.

This time, though, Martinez decided not to make the move. He decided to let Parker try to pitch himself out of the inning.

“We thought about taking him out, but I wanted to see what he could do,” the Nationals manager said. “We had a big enough lead. I wanted to see him get through it. And he did. He got a big out for us. That was awesome to see.”

Indeed, Parker proceeded to strike out Kyle Farmer on five pitches, the last of them a 94-mph fastball on what proved to be his 94th and final pitch Monday night. The rookie was rewarded for it with his third big league win, the Nats ultimately cruising to a 12-3 victory.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Nats finally enjoy offensive breakthrough, rout Twins (updated)

rosario

The Nationals finally broke out of their offensive slumber tonight, and all it took was a couple of rare home runs, as many hits with runners in scoring position as they had totaled in their previous five games and one wild trip around the bases by Eddie Rosario.

A 12-3 rout over the Twins, to put it mildly, was exactly what this team needed.

Snapping their losing streak at five games by extending Minnesota’s losing streak to seven games, the Nats enjoyed their best all-around offensive showing since their last homestand. And combined with another quality start from rookie Mitchell Parker, this turned into one of their most enjoyable ballgames in some time.

"We talk about it all the time: When you score early, things start to fall into place," manager Davey Martinez said. "They start to relax a little bit. The at-bats get better. ... You get that, and you get another good outing from Mitchell, and it becomes a good day."

The just-completed, 2-7 trip through Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia was a miserable one, especially from an offensive standpoint. The Nationals scored two runs or fewer in five of those losses, they went 5-for-43 with runners in scoring position over the last five games and they only managed to score five runs Sunday with a way-too-late rally against the Phillies that had no bearing on the outcome of the game.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments