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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats even things up with 5-3 win over Padres; Rubber match today in D.C.

News and notes from the Nationals and Padres’ second game of this week’s three-game series...

FRONT PAGE - Williams vs the Padres:

“He threw the ball well,” Davey Martinez said after Trevor Williams gave up five hits (one HR) and three earned runs in six innings against the Miami Marlins last week in a 94-pitch outing on the road in Marlins Park.

Williams took the loss in his ninth start of the year, falling to (1-2) with a 4.26 ERA, a 4.71 FIP, 10 walks (2.03 BB/9), 32 Ks (6.50 K/9), and a .266/.309/.468 line against in 44 13 IP.

“This whole year he’s been keeping us in the ballgame,” Martinez added. “They got a couple of hits there and gave up a couple of runs. But other than that, man, he threw the ball really well.”

Williams picked up 13 called strikes, (eight on his four-seamer, four on his slider, and one on his changeup), to go along with 15 called strikes, (nine on his fastball, four on his slider, and two on his curveball).

“I was just trying to do my best to get as many innings as I could today,” Williams said, after the outing, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.

“Give us a chance to win. The [Marlins have] been playing good baseball the last few days.

“They put some good swings on balls today early.”

This time out, he took on the San Diego Padres at home in Nationals Park.

Start No. 10 for the right-hander began with three scoreless, which he completed on just 39 total pitches, with a 4-0 lead after two, but he walked Juan Soto in the top of the fourth, and two outs later he left a 2-1 curveball up in the zone for Rougned Odor, who hit it out 363 feet to right field for a 2-run shot, 4-2 Nats.

It was 5-2 in the home team’s favor when Williams gave up a leadoff home run by Ha-Seong Kim in the first at-bat of the fifth, leaving an 0-2 fastball up in the zone Kim hit 405 ft. out to center field in the nation’s capital, 5-3, and a two-out walk in the sixth, on his 94th pitch, got his manager out of the dugout, and Carl Edwards, Jr. recorded out No. 3 with one pitch.

Trevor Williams’ Line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 94 P, 53 S, 4/5 GO/FO.

Williams generated just six swinging strikes on the night, but picked up 17 called strikes in the outing.

After what ended up a 5-3 win for the home team, the Nats’ skipper said the early lead set the tone for what followed from his club.

“It’s a big difference,” he said. “First thing is everybody kind of settles in, relaxes a little bit, Trevor goes to work, and he’s throwing strikes, which was awesome. He gave us everything he had today, and it was an unbelievable way to start off the game and going out there and giving us five-plus innings, that’s what we needed.”

“He mixed his repertoire up a lot,” Martinez said of the keys to Williams’ relatively successful appearance, “but he still attacked with his fastball, in and out, threw a couple of nice sliders there, but I thought he did a great job of just mixing his pitches.”


• Stone Garrett, Dominic Smith, and Keibert Ruiz hit back-to-back-to-back singles to start off the bottom of the second inning, with Ruiz’s driving Garrett in for a 1-0 lead, then Smith and the catcher scored on a two-run double to left-center field by Alex Call, 3-0, and Luis García added a sac fly off of Padres’ left-hander Ryan Weathers as the home team jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage.

• Lane Thomas started the night with a career-high, 19-game on-base streak, over which he had hit safely in 17 of 19 games, going 27 for 78 (.346 AVG), with three doubles, a triple, six home runs, 13 RBIs, four walks, one HBP, and 17 runs scored in the 19 games in that stretch.

Thomas grounded out productively in his first trip to the plate against the Padres’ southpaw, moving two runners into scoring position before García’s sac fly, and in the fourth he hit his eight double of the year, driving in a run with the two-out hit to put the Nationals up 5-2. 20-game on-base streak. Hits in 18 of 20.

• Carl Edwards, Jr. got two outs for the Nationals in the seventh, but gave up a two-out hit by Brett Sullivan which brought Fernando Tatis, Jr. to the plate, so Davey Martinez went to the pen again, for Hunter Harvey, who got a weak ground ball towards third which Jeimer Candelario barehanded before throwing to third for out No. 3.

BACK PAGE - Meneses Update:

Joey Meneses, 31, started the second of three with the Padres in D.C., “tied for fourth in the National League with 56 hits,” and ranked 12th in the NL in AVG, .295, as highlighted by the Nationals in their pregame notes for last night’s matchup.

Meneses, “ranks tied for third in Major League Baseball with 45 hits behind Freddie Freeman (48) and Marcus Semien (46) since April 15,” the club added, and, “...his .331 batting average since April 15th rank[ed] fourth in MLB.” And over his previous 13 games, as he got hot after a slow start to the season, he had a .356/.387/.508 line, six doubles, one home run, 14 RBIs, three walks, and seven runs scored.

His manager, Davey Martinez, talked before last night’s game about the veteran, who made his debut in the major leagues as a 30-year-old last season, adjusting to his role as the DH this year, which isn’t an easy transition, after he’d played mostly first base but also left and right field in 2022.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“He’s got — look, DHing is not easy,” Martinez acknowledged, “because you’re sitting there waiting for your turn to come up to hit, you’re not in the field just kind of moving around, so he’s developing a routine. Sometimes it’s a little different because of day games, but he is developing a routine to keep him going. My biggest thing for him is to go out and take ground balls, take fly balls, keep himself going, even if it’s early. Because I’ve seen a lot of DHs do that. I mean, Harold Baines used to take ground balls at first base, he used to go out in the outfield and just move around a little bit. But he needs to treat it as if he was engaged in the game the whole time, playing the field, and getting himself going. He goes in the cage and hits before his at-bats, and I guess he does some leg stuff in there to keep him active, but he is getting a routine.”

He knows it’s different, the manager told Meneses, but building a routine is the best thing you can do when you’re not in the field, and you need to stay focused between at-bats.

“For me it’s — ‘Hey, you’ve got a gift to hit. He hits, and he hits the ball really well. So you know, but I tell him all the time, ‘I know it’s tough. I know it’s tough,’” Martinez said.

“So just keep working on your routine, keep working good at-bats, and it will come as it has.

“I remember the first couple weeks he was frustrated, because he didn’t know what to do.”

Martinez said Meneses did seek out advice from someone who knows how to do the job.

“I know he talked to [2022 Nat and 2023 Padre] Nelson [Cruz] yesterday a little bit about it,” Martinez said. “He’s a good guy to talk to about it. He talked to him about it a little bit, but he has to develop a routine for himself.”

The difficulty of the gig was something Cruz talked to the manager about when he was with the club last season.

“Nelson always told me, ‘Hey, regardless of what people think about a DH, we get up there in a crucial situation and we got to be ready all the time,’” Martinez told reporters. “It’s not like you can take any at-bats off. Our job is to hit, and you got to be ready for any situation at any time. And it’s good to hear it from a guy that’s done it for a very long time.”

Bullpen Talk:

When the Tigers scored two runs in the sixth inning on Sunday to make it a 6-3 game in the Nationals’ favor, and threatened to score more with two runners on, Davey Martinez turned to his righty Kyle Finnegan, who came out, and struck out Javier Báez, walked Riley Greene, and popped up Spencer Torkelson to short-circuit the comeback attempt.

Finnegan then came back out and fought through the seventh as well, with an unearned run scoring, 6-4, then it was Carl Edwards, Jr. and Hunter Harvey handling the eighth and ninth, respectively, for the win.

“For me, it was a big turning point right there,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said of turning to Finnegan, the sometimes-closer, in the sixth. “They had momentum, and we had to stop the fire. We really did. We got him up really quick, he came out and he shut it down right there, and he comes out the next inning and keeps us right there. He comes in and he says, ‘I can go one more.’ And I said, ‘You’re done.’”

Following a loss to the Padres in Tuesday night’s series opener with San Diego in D.C., the sixth-year manager was asked who he’d turn to if he had a lead late in the 2nd of 3 games this week in Nationals Park.

“It all depends where we’re at in their lineup,” Martinez explained.

“Obviously those two guys [Finnegan and Harvey] in the back they’ll pitch the eighth and ninth, it all depends on what the matchups look like.

“At any given moment, Finnegan is going to close for us and Harvey.”

MLB: San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Martinez stressed it was less a matter of one pitcher or another losing his confidence, and more about him being comfortable turning to any of the back-end arms he trusts with the lead.

“Absolutely,” he said. “And this is something that I talked to both of them about, and they’re both willing to take the ball — just like Finnegan the other day took the ball in the sixth inning, and he was all in. So it’s good to know that like I said, it’s based on conversations I have with them, and those guys will be ready after the sixth inning.”

Edwards, Jr. and Harvey combined to get the Nationals through the sixth, seventh, and the eighth last night, once Trevor Williams was done, and Finnegan finished the Padres off with a quick, 1-2-3 ninth. Final Score: 5-3 Nationals.

“They were good,” Martinez deadpanned when asked about the work his bullpen did in the win.

“They were good. It’s a big difference when you’ve got the lead and we can use Harvey the way we did, Finnegan at the end, and CJ, man, CJ came in and did a great job.”