FRONT PAGE - Williams vs Rockies:
Trevor Williams expressed frustration about the “unfortunate plays” he was unable to make, and said he made some mistakes which Tampa Bay Rays’ hitters got all of and hit out in the 30-year-old starter’s debut for Washington after signing a 2-year/$13M free agent deal with the Nationals this winter. Williams struggled with his fielding on some grounders, and gave up two home runs and four runs total (three earned) in a 6-2 loss in his 2023 debut, but the starter was happy with the outing overall.
“They put some good swings on pitches that I made mistakes on,” Williams told reporters, “but overall I executed some big pitches when I needed to, me and [catcher] Keibert [Ruiz] were on the same page all game, which was awesome.
“But overall I think there’s a lot of positives we can take from this loss, and carry it over into next start.”
“Some unfortunate plays,” manager Davey Martinez said in assessing Williams’ outing.
“A couple balls he left up and got hit hard, but overall, we make a couple plays he’s out of the inning in the first inning, and then — thank goodness he didn’t get hurt, but he fell. Could have got that out. And another little ground ball that we should have got [an] out.
“But I thought he did okay. He wanted to go out for the sixth inning because that’s just who he is, but at five innings and 90+ pitches, I thought that was good.”
Williams, who moved between the bullpen and rotation in the last two seasons, but pitched mostly in relief, signed on in D.C. for an opportunity to start again, and he said after his first outing he was happy to be back starting again.
“I’m thankful that [Nats’ GM] Mike Rizzo gave me an opportunity here. I’m hopefully earning Davey’s trust out there as a starter, but I will be better going on in the next five days, and I look forward to getting ready for my start in Colorado,” Williams said.
Going into the outing against the Rockies last night, his manager said he just wanted to see the right-hander pound the zone ... and avoid any fielding issues.
“He’s a competitor,” Martinez said, after jokingly saying what he really wanted to see was Williams field his position, “but he’s a guy that’s got to throw strikes. Be in the strike zone. He mixes all his pitches up. Not being afraid to throw his fastball, his two-seamer, it works, but his changeup and slider work as well, but for the most part he’s got to work ahead.”
Williams held the Rockies off the board through four, working with a 3-0 lead after two and a half innings, and a 5-0 lead after four and a half, but the Rockies finally got to him in their fifth try, with Harold Castro singling to start the bottom of the fifth inning, and scoring two outs later on a Brian Serven double to left, 5-1 Nationals.
Williams gave up a leadoff double in the sixth, and recorded one out before the Nats went to the pen for Hunter Harvey with a runner on third and one down. Ryan McMahon hit one out to left for a sac fly, 5-2 Nationals, but Harvey held it there...
Trevor Williams’ Line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 88 P, 62 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Williams generated seven swinging strikes overall, four with his fastball, and picked up 13 called strikes, eight with his heater in the outing.
“Trevor kept the ball down. 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,” Martinez told reporters after the club held on for a 7-6 win.
“I’m glad that we were able to pound the strike zone,” Williams said in a post game scrum in the Rockies’ home. “We stuck with Plan A for most of the night, and me and Riley [Adams] were on the same page, so it was awesome to get in a rhythm with him, especially early and make big pitches when it was at end.”
Garrett’s Turn Again:
Stone Garrett went 1 for 2 with two walks in his first start of the season in the series with the Tampa Bay Rays last week in D.C., and his manager penciled the 27-year-old outfielder in for the third of four with the Rockies in Colorado this weekend too.
Davey Martinez said before last night’s game he liked Garrett’s approach in his four plate appearances of 2023 last week.
“I loved it,” Martinez told reporters. “Don’t chase. We talked a lot about it with him in Spring Training as well, about chasing, stay in the middle of the field. He did all of that his first game, he swung the bat well. If he can do that, when he hits the ball, he hits it hard. If he can lay off some pitches, get the ball in the zone, he’ll put a good swing on it.”
Giving him another start, as the DH again, and hitting him second, Martinez said, would hopefully boost the confidence of his outfielder.
“Most definitely,” the manager explained. “I really think that he can help us against left-handed pitching.”
Rockies’ lefty Austin Gomber took the mound for the home team last night.
Garrett doubled the first time up, on an 0-1 fastball up in the zone from the left-hander, and the second time up, in the third inning, he hit a first-pitch knuckle curve 432 ft. to right field in Coors Field for a three-run shot and 3-0 Nats’ lead.
His first home run this season followed a leadoff double by Victor Robles and a one-out hit by Alex Call.
CJ Abrams and Call scored when Garrett lined a 1-0 changeup low in the zone to left field in the top of the fourth, for a two-run single, collecting his 4th and 5th RBIs of the game, 5-0.
Garrett lined a two-out double to left field in the top of the 7th, 4 for 4, 5 RBIs, but he struck out in his fifth trip to the plate.
“He gets the ball down in the zone, anything that runs in there, he puts a good bat on the ball,” Martinez said after the game. He picked us up today, he had 5 RBIs, he had a great day. I love the way he’s been swinging. I mean, he played last week and he did the same thing.
“Worked a couple walks, got the ball where he could handle, and put a good swing on it.”
“When he gets the ball in the zone and doesn’t chase, as we talked about earlier, he hits the ball hard, and you saw that tonight,” the manager added.
Did Garrett hit his way into another start in the series finale.
“I’m going to have to stay awake for a little while on this one,” Martinez said, “but it’s hard to sit the guy down, but we’ll see, I’m going to look at everything again tonight.”
Lane Thomas and Michael Chavis singled to start the top of the eighth, with Thomas taking third on Chavis’s hit, and one unproductive out later, Victor Robles dropped a perfect bunt down, with the safety squeeze allowing Thomas to score from third to make it a 7-2 game in the Nationals’ favor.
“Vic did a great job of getting the ball down, Lane had a great jump, we got that fifth run, which ended up being huge,” Davey Martinez said after the 7-6 win, “but we got another game here tomorrow, we come back tomorrow, put 7-8 on the board, we take our chances again.”
Mason Thompson and Kyle Finnegan, who got an inning-ending double play after giving up a one-out walk and single, followed Williams and Harvey with scoreless innings.
Anthony Banda gave up a leadoff single by Ryan McMahon, and a two-run home run by Mike Moustakas, then a walk to Elehuris Montero before he was lifted in favor of Carl Edwards, Jr., who got the first out before giving up a double to right by Jurickson Profar, which brought the potential tying run to the plate in the form of pinch hitter Elias Diaz, who shot a two-run single by first base, 7-6, before Edwards, Jr. got out No. 2 on Charlie Blackmon fly to right field.
Yonathan Daza singled with two out, extending the inning so Kris Bryant could bat, but the Nats’ right-hander struck him out to end the game, 7-6 final.
BACK PAGE - Luis García Update:
“His right hamstring tightened up on him,” Davey Martinez said after 22-year-old infielder Luis García left Friday’s game after tweaking his leg running to first base in Coors Field.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He’ll probably be day-to-day though, but he says he feels fine right now, but we’ll see how he feels.”
Martinez was asked on Friday night if he thought it was serious enough to get someone on a plane from one of the Nationals’ affiliates, but he said he wasn’t too concerned.
“I think he’s going to be okay,” the manager explained. “They examined him. He’s got good strength. If he needs a day tomorrow, then we can give him a day.
“But let’s see how he feels tomorrow when he gets up.”
“Everything seems to be fine. This is going to be a day-to-day thing,” Martinez reiterated in his pregame presser before last night’s game.
“He feels a little better. He’s still a little sore. So the smart thing to do is to give him a day and see how he feels throughout the day.”