It took just one pitch for the Washington Nationals version 2021.2 to take down a Milwaukee Brewers’ team that started the three-game weekend series still within five games of the National League’s best record.
That pitch from rookie right-hander Andres Machado, killed what amounted to Milwaukee’s only rally of the night and secured Patrick Corbin’s first win in his past seven starts and the team’s third straight victory.
Brewers’ center fielder Lorenzo Cain had one hit against Corbin (7-12), but was on base three times, and stole two bags without a throw, forcing the Nats’ lefty to pitch out of trouble to keep the Brewers off the board in the third and fifth innings.
But it was Cain’s third time on base, on a four-pitch walk from Mason Thompson to lead off the eighth, that brought manager Davey Martinez out to call on Machado, who has quickly become one of the team’s most reliable relievers.
“Machado came in today, and just threw strikes, got a big ground ball for a double play, and then he attacked the strike zone, which is awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said in his postgame Zoom call with reporters.
Machado entered the game having allowed only one earned run and six hits in his previous 13 appearances, and he had held hitters to a .190 average for the season.
Yelich tapped Machado’s only pitch, a four-seam fastball, right to Luis García in the shift for a double play that also erased Cain before he could do any more damage on the bases.
“I can honestly see these guys getting some confidence and attacking the strike zone,” said Martinez, praising his pitchers’ aggressive approach.
The Nationals took a 2-0 lead on Lane Thomas’s first extra-base hit as a National, a triple that the right-hander lined off Milwaukee lefty Brett Anderson into a nearly empty right field against an over-aggressive shift. The hit scored Alcides Escobar, who had led off with a drag bunt down the third base line, and Carter Kieboom, who reached on a fielder’s choice following Josh Bell’s two-out walk.
“I just tried to be patient and see the ball deep because I didn’t think he was going to throw me anything that I was going to get beat on,” Thomas told reporters after the game.
“The infield kind of shifted me up the middle and there was a big hole there, so I was just trying to shoot something down that line and score a run.”
The third run came in the sixth, when Riley Adams singled off Hunter Strickland to drive in Juan Soto, who led off with a walk, to end Anderson’s night.
After Machado killed the Brewers’ rally, the Nationals picked up an extra run in the top of the ninth when García led off with a walk and came around to score on Bell’s bases-loaded walk against Jake Cousins.
Kyle Finnegan converted his second straight save opportunity and fifth save of the season, retiring Willy Adames, Eduardo Escobar, and Avisail Garcia following a leadoff walk to Jace Peterson.