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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats blow 3-0 lead, lose opener with Cleveland Guardians, 4-3...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ series opener with the Guardians in D.C.

FRONT PAGE - No. 32:

“Trevor kept the ball down,” Davey Martinez said after Trevor Williams’ 5 13-inning, five-hit, two-earned run outing against the Colorado Rockies last weekend in Coors Field.

“It was something that we talked about. He elevated when he needed to, but for the most part he kept the ball down and he pumped strikes.”

“I think overall we did a good job,” Williams said after his second start of the young season.

“There’s a lot of outfield out there, there’s a lot of infield, so putting the ball in play is good [in Coors Field].

“We have tremendous defenders out there that can make plays, so overall I think it was a great team win for us.”

Williams generated seven swinging strikes from Rockies’ hitters, four with his fastball, and picked up 13 called strikes, eight with his heater in the outing.

“He understands he’s got to get ahead in counts and pound the strike zone,” Martinez said in his pregame press conference before Williams’ third outing, in last night’s series opener with the Cleveland Guardians.

“He’s a guy that he has four really good pitches, but he’s got to throw them all for strikes,” the manager continued.

“He’s got to be around the plate. When he falls behind is when he gets in trouble.”

Martinez was happy to see Williams using all his weapons against the Rockies.

“He’s got a mix of four really good pitches, and I think he did really well in utilizing all of those in Colorado,” the sixth-year skipper said.

“He’s not afraid to mix in a changeup when he’s behind, or throw a curveball for a strike early, so he does a good job of mixing all his pitches in.”

In his third start with the Nationals, after signing a 2-year/$13M free agent deal this winter, Williams tossed four scoreless on 66 pitches in last night’s series opener with Cleveland, then returned to the mound in the fifth inning with a 3-0 lead, and was up to 81 after he retired the side in order with a backwards K followed by two groundouts.

A ground-rule double to center, and hard-hit liner to right ended Williams’ outing quickly in the sixth, however, with the righty up to 95 pitches overall...

Trevor Williams’ Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 95 P, 59 S, 8/1 GO/FO.

Williams generated just three swinging strikes overall, but did get 16 called strikes overall, seven with his four-seam fastball, five with his sinker, and two each with his slider and his curveball. His frustration in the end was with the fact he couldn’t get through the sixth.

“I want to finish things when I go out there,” Williams said after what ended up a 4-3 loss, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.

“That’s twice now pitching into the sixth and haven’t gotten that third out in the sixth. So that’s just something to carry over into the next start.”

Luis, Luis:

Guardians’ starter Cal Quantrill tossed 3 13 scoreless to start the series opener in D.C., but he left a 1-0 sinker to Luis García over the middle of the plate in the second at-bat against the Nationals’ second baseman, who’d singled on a 2-2 curve outside the first time up.

García went to left-center for the homer, hitting it 400 feet for his 1st of 2023 and a 1-0 lead over the visiting club from Cleveland.

García tweaked his hamstring running out a ground ball in an April 7th game, and missed four games before returning in the series finale with the LA Angels on Wednesday.

Keibert Ruiz and Lane Thomas singled after García’s home run, and CJ Abrams reached on a weak grounder to third, loading the bases, and one out later, Alex Call lined a two-out single to center for a two-run hit and a 3-0 lead.

García walked the third time up against Quantrill, taking a two-out free pass from the right-handed starter, and he took his second walk of the season in the home-half of the seventh, but was stranded in what was a 3-3 game at that point.


Hunter Harvey took over for Trevor Williams with runners on first and third in the sixth, and got a double play in the first at-bat, allowing the runner he inherited to score, 3-1, and then getting a swinging K to end the inning.

Harvey returned to the mound in the top of the seventh, and gave up a solo shot to center by Josh Bell on a 1-0 fastball belt-high inside, 3-2. Bell’s first with the Guardians (against his former team).

A single in the next at-bat, and back-to-back, two-out walks loaded the bases and ended the night for Harvey, and Carl Edwards, Jr. took over and issued the third straight walk, 3-3, then he got out No. 3.

Edwards, Jr. returned in the eighth, and gave up a double off the out-of-town scoreboard by Bell, after Andrés Giménez reached on an error by the pitcher, and Giménez scored on a weak grounder to short by Will Brennan to make it 4-3 Guardians, which is how it ended.

“He got some guys to really take some bad swings on the ball hit right at him,” Martinez said of Edwards, Jr.’s struggles in the outing. “All he had to do was pick it up and throw to first. It just didn’t happen. And then the dribbler. Like I said, these guys have been really good back there, they really have. So we got to forget about today and come back tomorrow and go 1-0.”

BACK PAGE - Injury Updatepalooza:

Carter Kieboom was diagnosed with a flexor mass strain in his right arm in Spring Training 2022, and when he started to throw again, and experienced discomfort, he was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his right elbow, which required Tommy John surgery which cost the 25-year-old, 2016 1st Round pick all of 2022.

Cautious as they were with Kieboom, the infielder suffered a setback this spring, with some tightness in his right shoulder forcing the team to shut him down in early March.

“Carter had a little setback. Now it’s his shoulder,” his manager, Davey Martinez, said at the time, as quoted on MASN.

“He’s got some tightness in his right shoulder. I think because of the Tommy John, this is part of it. So we’re gonna be really careful with him and kind of build up some strength in that shoulder and then go from there. It’s all the throwing. He said he could hit.

But I told him, ‘Let’s just back off a little bit. We got time, build up some strength in that shoulder and then we’ll get you back out there as soon as the trainers deem ready.’

NATIONALS SPRING TRAINING Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Before Friday night’s series opener with Cleveland in the nation’s capital, Martinez started his pregame press conference off with status reports on a number injured Nats, including Kieboom, who is throwing from third base now.

“He’s hitting in the cage, he’s still doing his throwing program,” Martinez explained.

“He’s actually thrown across the diamond, from third to first, that’s good, so far so good, so we’ll continue to build him up and hopefully soon we’ll send him out on a rehab.”

Having thrown across the diamond now, what’s the next step for Kieboom as he works his way back?

“For him it’s all about stability, really,” Martinez said.

“About how much he can do it, how much he can handle. As we all know, it’s a long season, so we want to make sure when he comes back, we build him up, that he’s playing, that he doesn’t regress.

“Because he’s throwing a lot, or hitting a lot. Now it’s just continued progression. Like I said, get him to go over there and throw, throwing from different angles is going to be the next step again for him, and once we get him to do that then I think he goes out on a rehab assignment. But for me there’s really no timetable for him now, but he is progressing well, and he’s swinging the bat, so we hope to get him back here soon.”

Quick Hits:

Davey Martinez on Victor Arano (Right Shoulder Strain): “Victor Arano continues to make progress on strengthening, still no throwing for him, but he is getting better, so he’ll get reassessed in another few days, see where he’s at. But he’s getting better, he’s building strength.

Cade Cavalli (Tommy John Surgery): “Cade, no change, as we know, it’s going to be a while for him.”

Corey Dickerson (Left Calf Strain): “Corey Dickerson, the soreness is diminishing. He’s hitting, he’s throwing, the next steps [are] to get him on the field, and start doing some agility stuff, and then get him to run.

“We feel like once he builds to that — the agility stuff is going to be the key, once he can do that and do it well with no pain, he can start running, so hopefully we get him back.”

New York Yankees v Washington Nationals Exhibition Photo by Diamond Images via Getty Images

Sean Doolittle (Rehabbing From Internal Brace Procedure/Left Elbow): “Sean Doolittle has done really well. He’s thrown bullpens. By next week he should be throwing a live BP. So that’s encouraging.”

Tanner Rainey (Tommy John Surgery): “Tanner Rainey, he’s thrown up to 105 feet, 25 throws, so he continues to build.”

Israel Pineda (Right Finger Fracture): “Pineda, no change, we’re still waiting on his finger to heal.”

Ildemaro Vargas (Left Shoulder Strain): “And [Ildemaro] Vargas, decreasing soreness. He’s still at the early stages. Light strengthening. So we’ll get him back as soon as he can build up strength and start throwing, he’ll be back as well.”