Some more things to ponder after a long, wild, ultimately successful Tuesday afternoon and evening at the ballpark ...
Even though he got a complete game from Austin Voth in the doubleheader opener, manager Davey Martinez said he was working with a depleted relief corps in the nightcap. Will Harris was unavailable after pitching Sunday and Monday. Kyle Finnegan and Daniel Hudson were potentially available, but Martinez wanted to avoid using both if at all possible after each pitched Monday.
Circumstances did not allow for that, though. After Kyle McGowin got into a jam in the top of the fifth, Martinez summoned Wander Suero to finish the inning. He then sent Suero back to the mound for the sixth, only to watch as the right-hander loaded the bases with two outs.
Finnegan tried to pitch out of that mess but gave up the tying run on an infield single, then returned to pitch the seventh in a tie game. And once it went to extras, Hudson got the call for the top of the eighth.
Hudson did let the automatic runner score, but not through any fault of his own. Brock Holt’s throwing error brought the go-ahead run home for the Phillies. Then after loading the bases with one out, Hudson came through to strike out J.T. Realmuto and get Didi Gregorius to fly out to center to end the inning with the Nationals down 7-6.
Yes, they trailed. But in limiting the damage to the one unearned run, Hudson at least gave his teammates a chance to rally in the bottom of the eighth. Which they did.
“We called down there, and they said: ‘I’ll go if you need me,’” Martinez said of Finnegan and Hudson’s willingness to pitch. “Finnegan didn’t even want to come out of the game when I took him out. I can’t say enough about Huddy. He takes the ball. He’s beat up, but he takes the ball, and he gets big outs for us.”
* Juan Soto played right field for the first time in his major league career and hit his first homer of September: a three-run, opposite-field shot in the bottom of the third.
Though he still was drawing walks and maintained an OPS over .900, Soto hadn’t been able to hit the ball out of the park in 16 games this month after hitting 11 in 24 games played in August.
You knew it was only a matter of time, though.
* Andrew Stevenson continues to impress out of the leadoff spot. The outfielder went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and an RBI triple in the nightcap, and that’s after he doubled and scored a run in the opener.
In seven games since his most recent call-up from the alternate training site, Stevenson is batting .400 (8-for-20) with three doubles, a triple and seven RBIs. He has also made several nice plays at both corner outfield positions.
* There’s something comforting for the Nationals about hosting the Phillies late in the season. After going 0-6 against them earlier this summer, they’ve now won the first three games of this four-game series in D.C. And that’s continuing a trend that has been going on for quite some time.
The Nats have won 14 of their last 15 September home games against the Phillies, a stretch that dates back to 2016.