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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats win series; drop finale to Twins, 3-1 in Target Field

Notes and quotes from this past weekend’s series in Target Field...


Given a 1-0 lead to work with before he took the mound in Minnesota’s Target Field, Patrick Corbin tossed three scoreless to start on Sunday afternoon, on 55 pitches, working out of a bases loaded jam in the second, after giving up a leadoff single, one-out single, and two-out walk, and stranding two batters in the third after a leadoff ROE and a two-out hit.

His 57th pitch went 380 feet to left and into the stands, however, with Jorge Polanco’s home run tying things up at 1-1 in the series finale.

Two outs later, Michael A. Taylor hit another blast, taking a center-cut sinker 444 ft to center field, off the facade of the second deck, 2-1 Twins.

Corbin was down a run, and up to 66 after an 11-pitch fourth.

Corbin got two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth, but an inning-extending walk to Jose Miranda, a single to center by Ryan Jeffers, which fell in front of a charging Victor Robles, and a two-out RBI single by Jorge Polanco put the home team up 3-1, which had the Nats’ starter frustrated, and up to 84 pitches overall after five.

A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left Corbin at 96 total, and he was done for the day...

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 96 P, 63 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

The lefty finished the night with 10 swinging strikes, nine on his slider, and he picked up 21 called strikes, 14 on his sinker, and seven on his slider.

“He located his fastball down, in,” Martinez said in his post game presser.

“He was going to both sides of the plate. But for the most part it was down. His slider was good again, so he’s been pitching well.”

Early Offense:

“We’ve got to keep going. We got to keep going,” Davey Martinez said after the second of back-to-back wins over the Twins in this weekend’s three-game series in Minneapolis, MN.

“We got Patrick Corbin tomorrow, come out and try to score first and try to win another game,” the sixth-year skipper added.

And they did just that. At least the score first part.

Jeimer Candelario walked with one down, Luis García walked with two down, and Keibert Ruiz hit a fly down the left field line, and it fell in for an RBI double which gave the visiting Nationals a 1-0 lead early in the series finale with the Twins in Target Field.

Bailey Ober’s long 28-pitch first ended with a strikeout, but the Nationals took the lead early on the Twins’ starter, but the home team rallied for two in the fourth, and one in the fifth, 3-1, and the Nats’ offense dried up, with the club failing to put any runners in scoring position after the first.

BACK PAGE - Sneaky Pop:

CJ Abrams homered twice in 90 games with the Padres before San Diego traded the 22-year-old shortstop to the Nationals in the Juan Soto/Josh Bell deal last August, but over Abrams’ first 62 games with Washington he hadn’t managed to hit one out of the park till Saturday afternoon, when he went down for an 0-1 changeup below the zone from Twins’ reliever Woods Richardson and hit it 370 feet to right in Target Field for a three-run shot in what ended up a 10-4 win for the visiting team.

“He stayed on that ball really well,” Davey Martinez said of Abrams’ first blast in 236th plate appearance with the Nats.

“The ball was down, finished his swing really well, and he’s got juice. We see it in batting practice, it’s got to translate into the game.

“Today he got a ball down, he stayed through the ball, and he was able to hit the ball hard to right field and it was a home run.”

1B/DH Questions:

Joey Meneses’s 10 hits in the last six games (10 for 27, .370 AVG) are one shy of the 11 he hit in his first 13 games this season, and after the 30-year-old slugger’s home run in the first win for the Nationals over the Twins on Friday, and his four-hit game in Saturday’s series clincher, it seems like the sort-of-out-of-nowhere star of the last two months of Washington’s 2022 run was heating up and hitting like he did late last year and in the WBC.

“He’s on time. He’s getting on time, and he’s getting ready to hit the fastball,” Nats’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the 10-4 win in Target Field in the second game with the Twins.

“When he gets going, man, it’s awesome to see. He hits the ball everywhere.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Martinez said on Sunday, before the finale in Minnesota, he planned on getting Meneses out in the field more often going forward.

“We’re going to try to get him out there a little bit more,” Martinez said, “... and just let Dom [Smith] DH. But he’s swinging the bat a lot better. I don’t know if it’s because he played the field yesterday, but [Meneses] definitely — he’s been working the last week on, again, getting ready early, being on time. And it’s helped him out a lot. We’ll see how he does today, but I definitely want to get him out there and get him more involved in the field, not just let him DH every day.”

There is a balance, however, with Smith a better defender at first base, but Martinez said he wants to get Meneses more time in the field, and his decisions each game will depend on a number of factors.

“We’ll look at a lot of different things, especially our starting pitchers. Whether the team is more of a fly ball team, that hits more fly balls. We’ll look at all that stuff and try to get him out there as much as possible,” he explained.

Series Win:

It took seven series to get it, and the Nationals dropped 13 of 20 games going into Sunday afternoon’s series finale with the Twins, but with wins in the first two games in Target Field, Davey Martinez’s club claimed their first series win of the season.

“It feels good,” he said after the 15-hit, 10-run win on Saturday. “We’re playing good. Our defense has been playing good. Our starting pitching for the most part has kept us in the game, our bullpen is pitching well. We just got to continue to do that on a daily basis. Consistency is the big thing as I always talk about up here. Just continue to play. I always say, hey, there’s got to be three constants in the game: We got to pitch. We got to play defense. We’ve got to run the bases correctly. And those three things we’ve done well. So we’ve got to continue to do that.”

They got decent pitching, played some good defense, but made some mistakes out on the basepaths, and the offense dried up in the finale with the Twins, a 3-1 loss in the end.

“The guys played hard,” Martinez said after the game.

“To come out of here, when these guys have been playing well, to win two out of three with a day off coming up tomorrow, it feels good. So let’s kind of rest up a little bit again and get back after it [on] Tuesday.”