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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats fight, still can’t beat Marlins, 6-5 final in D.C.

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ fourth loss to the Marlins in four games this season...

Williams in Washington:

Trevor Williams, who’s averaged 90.2 MPH on his 4-seam fastball, (which he’s thrown 48.8% of the time), this season, (with opposing hitters hitting .232 on the pitch), hit 93.0 MPH with the heater on the road in Atlanta, GA, in what was a one run game (2-1 in the Braves’s favor) through most of his outing (after he gave up two runs on a two-run home run in the bottom of the first). His manager noticed Williams’ stuff playing up a bit in a competitive game.

“He was a little bit amped up,” Martinez said after what ended up a 6-2 win for Washington’s Nationals.

“After he gave up the home run ... he settled down, some of the fastballs were coming in hot, and he threw well. I thought his slider was really, really good today as well.”

“That’s my top right there. That’s my everything,” Williams said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco, of what’s he’s still capable of doing, at 31, in terms of his velocity.

“It’s a fun environment to play in here. It’s a good team. And against good players, you want your best stuff, and it’s best stuff on best stuff.”

Martinez told reporters he though the confidence his club has in the starter helped as they fought to keep it close then took the lead with a five-run sixth.

“We got a lot of confidence in him. He gives up runs but doesn’t get rattled, gets back in it, and he keeps us in the ballgame. And today we were able to score some runs for him.”

Williams gave up four runs early in his start against the Marlins last night in the first of three with Miami in D.C. this weekend, two in the first on a two-run single by Jesús Sánchez, then two on a two-out home run by Luis Arraez, who hit an 88 MPH 1-2 fastball inside out to right to put the visitors up 4-2 in the second.

It was 4-3 in the Marlins’ favor when Williams returned to the mound in the fourth, at 61 total pitches after an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 third, and gave up a one-out walk, back-to-back singles, and a fifth run allowed on the night, 5-3 Miami. A double play grounder off of Jorge Soler’s bat got the Nats’ starter out of a two-on, one-out jam, at 79 pitches overall.

Williams got one out in the top of the fifth, but a walk on his 86th pitch ended his outing, and Jordan Weems stranded the runner he inherited to leave the starter with the 5 ER on the night...

Trevor Williams’ Line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 86 P, 52 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

After what ended up a 6-5 loss, Martinez talked about why Williams struggled to settle in this time out.

“Just a little bit behind, couldn’t finish hitters off, but he gave us everything he had today to get through what he did, so he’ll be back out there in five days,” Martinez said.


• Lane Thomas started the night 0 for 15 with 9 Ks in his head-to-head matchups with Miami Marlins’ starter Sandy Alcantara, but he got all of a 1-1 fastball just about middle-middle that he hit 411 feet to right-center field, over the out-of-town scoreboard, for a leadoff home run (10) and a quick response following the two-run top of the first by the Fish, 2-1 MIA.

Luis García singled in the next at-bat, and took third on a hard-hit double to center field by Jeimer Candelario, whose 18th two-base hit of the season set Joey Meneses up with an RBI opportunity early in the series opener in the nation’s capital, which he cashed in with a sac fly to right field, 2-2.

• The home team rallied to tie things up in the bottom of the first, but the Marlins came out swinging again in the second, with Jon Berti doubling off Trevor Williams, and taking third base on a groundout, but he was thrown out in a rundown between third and home plate when CJ Abrams fielded a grounder to short by Jonathan Davis in the at-bat which followed, and fired a strike to the plate to start a 6-2-5 putout. [ed. note - “Williams did give up a two-run home run later in the inning, but his defense tried to help him.”]

• Jeimer Candelario lined a 1-0 sinker inside out to right for a two-out double in the bottom of third, hustling around to second to beat the throw to the bag, and he scored when Joey Meneses followed with an RBI single to center on a first-pitch sinker up in the zone from the Marlins’ starter, 4-3 Miami.

• It was 5-3 Marlins when Dom Smith singled on an 0-1 sinker down out of the zone from the right-handed starter, and CJ Abrams hit a center-cut 1-0 changeup from Alcantara to center field for a two-out RBI double (11), 5-4, and 5-5 on an RBI double to left by Lane Thomas (16).

• Candelario doubled again in the seventh, though he was stranded. He finished the game 3 for 5 with three doubles, matching a career-high and tying “the record for most doubles in a game in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.)”

“He’s been really good for us,” Davey Martinez said of Candelario’s contributions.

“Offensively, defensively, he’s driving in some runs for us. Lane has been really good as well,” he added after Thomas went 2 for 5 with a double and the home run.

“He started off the game with a home run there, but those guys are playing really well for us so we got to keep them going.”


Jordan Weems (1 23 scoreless) and Mason Thompson kept it tied at 5-5 through seven, but Carl Edwards, Jr. came on in the eighth and gave up a one-out walk to Yuli Gurriel, a single by Joey Wendle, and a two-out ground ball back up the middle by the Marlins’ pinch hitter, Garrett Cooper, which bounced off CJ Abrams’ glove as he ranged to his left, allowing the lead runner to score ahead of Abrams’ throw home which skipped on catcher Keibert Ruiz, 6-5 Fish.

“I got to really look at it,” Martinez said of the decisive play. “They gave it a hit, I don’t know if it’s a hit or not, but just if you field the ball, you don’t feel the need to throw it, at least you keep it in the infield, that’s a ball he should catch.”

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Though he thought Abrams should have made the play, the manager said he liked the fact the shortstop stayed with it and made a throw home even if they didn’t get the out there.

“He turned right away, he knew exactly what he needed to do when he missed the ball, it was a tough play when he had to turn like that and make a quick throw like that.”

But the ball started rolling with the one-out walk from Edwards, Jr., “and then things happen like that,” Martinez said.

“I think that inning really started with the walk,” he explained.

“We always talk about not walking guys, because especially early in innings it’s going to bite you. But overall I thought we did well, we played well, we came back, we kept coming back, we just couldn’t score any runs at the end.”

BACK PAGE - Robles’s Back:

Victor Robles went 4 for 11 with a double, two home runs, three walks, and three Ks in 14 PAs on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester, (4 for 7 with all the extra-base hits in his last 2 games), and the 26-year-old outfielder who landed on the IL with a back issue back on May 8th, got the call to return to the majors before last night’s matchup with the Marlins in D.C.

Robles went on the IL with a .292/.388/.360 line, four doubles, eight stolen bases, 10 walks, and 14 Ks in 107 plate appearances in the first month-plus, but missed significant time, and his manager was excited to have the center fielder back though cautious about taking it all slowly.

“We’ll keep an eye on him. But he said he felt really good. But these first few days, we’ll take day by day and see where he’s at. If he can bounce back and play, then we’ll play him. If he’s sore a little bit, then we’ll definitely keep an eye on him,” Davey Martinez explained when he spoke to reporters on Friday afternoon.

“He swung the bat fairly well on his rehab assignment. The big thing is getting him ready early. He made some adjustments in his stance, and his approach, so hopefully he can continue to do what he did before [the injury]. It may take him a little bit, but for me I told him, ‘Hey, just remember what you’ve done. Give yourself a chance to hit every ball hard, get yourself ready early, and stay in the middle of the field.’ And he was doing really well with that, and just play the game.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

“We all know what he can do defensively, just understand what the situation of the game is when you’re hitting and just do everything you can to help us win games.”

Alex Call was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Robles, but his manager said he appreciated the way the 28-year-old outfielder contributed, playing center while Robles’s IL stint went on for longer than originally expected.

“Look, I can’t say enough about Alex,” Martinez said.

“He played unbelievable defense for us. He was out there every day. He’s an unbelievable competitor, a good teammate. We want to send him down and kind of get his swing straightened out a little bit. I don’t think it’ll be the last you’ve seen of Alex. But he was struggling a little bit with the bat. So we get Victor back. He was swinging the bat really well before he got hurt. So hopefully he’ll jump-start us again.”

“We know what Vic can do,” the manager added, “and like I said, his offense was really a lot better before he got hurt. But we know what he can do. He creates havoc on the bases, he’s an unbelievable defender when he’s out there. He was our starting center fielder before he got hurt and he’s coming back, so we’re very, very happy to have him back.”

Robles went 1 for 4 with two Ks in his return to the lineup.

“It was good to see him out there playing again,” Martinez said after the game. “He stayed on a ball, drove a ball to right field there, but it was [good to have him back].”