Front Page - The Big Comeback:
A night after they rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth, taking a 7-6 lead on the Arizona D-backs, only to have closer Kyle Finnegan implode and give up two runs in the bottom of the inning as the home team walked off on a bases-loaded walk, the Washington Nationals scored three in the ninth on Sunday to take the lead, but this time held on for a comeback win, with Hunter Harvey locking it down and earning his first career save in the process.
The comeback started in the seventh, with the Nats scoring two to pull within two runs, 7-5, but the D-backs’ answered back with a run in the bottom of the inning, 8-5.
Davey Martinez’s club wasn’t done though, scoring a run in the eighth, 8-6, and three in the ninth, on a three-run home run by Joey Meneses, whose 2nd of the 2023 campaign capped off a big comeback, 9-8 Nationals.
Harvey, a day after Finnegan’s struggles, worked around a one-out walk, and locked down the sweep-avoiding win for the visiting Nationals, who are off to San Francisco after three with the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, AZ’s Chase Field.
Luis García went 3 for 4 in Sunday’s game, doubling to start the ninth inning rally. Meneses went 3 for 5 in the win, scoring two runs and driving in four.
Stone Garrett and CJ Abrams both had multi-hit games as well, but all the Nats in the lineup contributed at least one knock in a 15-hit outburst.
“These guys got a bunch of heart,” Martinez said after the win in the finale with the D-backs.
“And they’re playing together,” he added. “They feel like they’re never out of it, and today’s another good example that they fought back and put up some big numbers again today, 15 hits, we scored a bunch of runs, and we swung the bats.”
Martinez said the pitching did need to improve, after Trevor Williams gave up seven hits, two walks, and five earned runs in 4 1⁄3 IP, Andres Machado was charged with two runs in just 2⁄3 of an inning. Thaddeus Ward allowed a run and four walks in 2⁄3 of an inning too.
Combined, the club walked 11 batters in the third of three in AZ.
“The walks are killing us,” Martinez said. “We got to start throwing strikes again, and give ourselves a chance, and try not to make these game so interesting. But you know what, I always say a win is a win, and I’m proud of the way these guys are going out there the last couple days, and they’ve been for a while now, playing hard. We’ve got to continue to do that. We go play another tough team in San Francisco, so we’ll have a nice plan ride with a victory and go get them tomorrow.”
His thoughts as he watched Meneses’s home run on an 0-1 fastball up high from reliever Miguel Castro?
“I’m thinking to myself here we go again, right?” Martinez said. “We got the lead, so Harvey was fresh and we decided to go with Harvey today, and he did a great job.
“Once again though, the walk, you know, I said, ‘Oh no, here we go.’ But hey, he got back in, he started throwing strikes, and he did well.”
Were there any concerns going into the bottom of the ninth after what happened Saturday night?
“You know, for me and the coaching staff, no,” the manager told reporters.
“Because we do our due diligence, this is who we are, we just got to get those three outs.
“So hey, I felt good about Harvey, I felt good about Finnegan yesterday. It didn’t work out yesterday, today it worked out.”
BACK PAGE - Robles to IL; Alu to San Francisco:
Victor Robles tweaked something in his back sliding into second on a steal attempt and left Saturday’s game early.
Before the finale with the D-backs on Sunday, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said there was some concern about a player like Robles dealing with a back issue.
“It’s definitely going to be a little bit of a concern, because of the way he plays the game,” Martinez explained. “He got treatment, he’s going to get some more treatment. We’ll keep an eye on it, and hopefully it gets better. And if it doesn’t, we’ll have to think about something else, maybe another day or something to see how it is. I’ll talk to the trainers throughout the day and see how he’s doing.”
When he spoke with reporters again after the Nationals’ comeback win, Martinez said the club would actually be placing Robles on the IL.
“We’re going to put him on the IL. We’re going to call up, hopefully, Jake Alu. Hopefully he gets here on time. But yeah, we’re going to give [Robles] some time to see if we can get that out of there,” Martinez said, referring to the issue as back spasms.
Alu, 26, is a 2019 24th Round pick who’ll be making his MLB debut when/if he gets into a game. Why was he the one to get the call (other than his .282/.341/.449 career line in the minors)?
“Left-handed bat, he can play multiple positions,” Martinez said. “So, we’ll get him up here and get him some at-bats.”
Keibert Ruiz Breaks Out of Mini-slump:
Keibert Ruiz was 0 for 18 going into the 2nd of 3 with the D-backs on Saturday, taking him from a .281 AVG on the year down to .238. The hitless streak was up to 0 for 19 before the 24-year-old catcher doubled in his second trip to the plate in Chase Field, hitting from the right side against Diamondbacks’ lefty Tommy Henry, and Ruiz homered off right-handed reliever Scott McGough from the left side in the top of the ninth inning, sparking a rally in what ended up an 8-7 loss.
What was the difference for Ruiz on Saturday?
“One, he stayed back a little bit better right-handed,” manager Davey Martinez said after the second consecutive loss to the D-backs, “... drove the ball to left field, and then left-handed he fouled some pitches off, some tough pitches, but he stayed back and used his legs, and that’s a key for him.”
Ruiz finished the night at .248/.311/.376 line on the year, with five doubles, three home runs, eight walks, and 11 Ks in 28 games and 119 plate appearances on the season, over which he had been worth 0.1 fWAR.
He wrapped up the series with a 1 for 5 game in the Nationals’ 9-8 win.