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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats drop 5th straight, 9-2 Cardinals in 2nd of 3 with St. Louis in D.C.

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ second straight loss to the Cards and fifth straight loss overall...

Gore’s Mechanics + More:

“It wasn’t the prettiest outing that we’ve seen,” MacKenzie Gore told reporters in his post game scrum, after tossing 5 23 scoreless innings on the road in Houston last week, “but zeroes play.”

“Zeroes, no matter what they look like, they’re good,” Gore added at another point.

The 24-year-old lefty, who gave up four hits and three walks, but no runs, in the outing, said his mechanics were off in the relatively brief appearance.

“Just kind of one of those days where I wasn’t great, but went out there and got as many outs as I could,” he explained.

“Just made enough pitches, just kind of the last few outings I’ve been fighting the delivery and kind of was that way tonight.”

“When I took him out, we talked a little bit,” manager Davey Martinez said in his own post game comments. “He said he felt a little bit off with his mechanics, so we’ll get him back out there in a few days and get him in the bullpen and see if we can straighten him out a little bit.”

The outing left Gore with a 3.74 ERA, a 4.15 FIP, 32 walks (3.86 BB/9), 87 Ks (10.49 K/9), and a .253/.327/.420 line against in 14 starts and 74 23 IP on the season. His ERA was up to 3.78 for the year after Jordan Walker singled with one out in the second last night, on a fly to center Victor Robles pulled up short in front of as it fell in for a hit, and Dylan Carlson followed with a two-run home run which traveled 445 ft to right on a 2-1 fastball middle-middle and low in the zone, 2-0.

[ed. note - “Gore and Robles had a “heated” discussion in the dugout after the play (well, after the inning in which the play took place), something Martinez (who got in the middle, making certain nothing went too far) will for sure be asked about after the game...”]

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

[ed. note² - “Here’s what Davey Martinez said about the exchange between Gore and Robles when the manager spoke to reporters after the game:

“‘They talked about it, we talked about it, it’s good. As far as I’m concerned, it’s good. It happens. When you’re trying to compete it happens.’

“Martinez said he thought Robles should have been able to make the play in dispute.

“‘Obviously MacKenzie thought he should have caught the ball, I thought he should have caught the ball,’ the manager explained.

“‘I thought he should have caught the ball, but it was windy, I think he thought he was going to catch it easy and the ball just died on him, and he couldn’t get there.’”

“Martinez stepped between the players, he explained, before it went too far.

“‘I just wanted to make sure that nothing was going to go crazy there in the dugout. So I just got in-between them, and just — it was good. Like I said, a few words were said, and then it was done.’

“We now return to your regularly scheduled recap...”

Gore was up to 28 pitches in the inning, and 61 pitches overall when he got Cards’ catcher Andrew Knizer looking with an 0-2 fastball down the pipe for out No. 3 of the fourth, and it got him out of a bases-loaded jam after he’d given up a one-out double, and back-to-back, two-out walks (his first two free passes on the night).

Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back, one-out singles off Gore in the top of the fifth, and a double steal got them both into scoring position so a sac fly to left field by Nolan Arenado could add to the lead, 3-1, and 4-1 when a two-out double to center field by Willson Contreras drove Goldschmidt in.

Gore was up to 76 pitches after five, trailing by three, and he gave up a solo home run by Dylan Carlson in the sixth, a 404-foot shot to left-center on a 93.7 MPH 3-2 fastball pretty much middle-middle, 5-1, in what ended up a 9-3 win for the Cards.

MacKenzie Gore’s Line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 2 HRs, 98 P, 66 S, 1/3 GO/FO.

“He threw — for four innings he threw 15 pitches or less, which is awesome,” Martinez said in assessing Gore’s outing. “That’s something that we talk about with him is efficiency, and then all of a sudden he lost the strike zone, he started getting behind, he faced 28 hitters. The guys he got ahead of he was dominating, so our conversation with him tomorrow is just when you get ahead, stay ahead, you’re really good when you’re able to do that, when he falls behind all of a sudden you get a lot of foul balls trying to work his way back in counts, that’s when he started getting hit.”


• Luis García tripled off Cards’ starter Jordan Montgomery, hitting a hanging 2-2 curve to right field, and he scored two outs later on an RBI double to left by Stone Garrett, whose 6th two-base hit of the season got the Nationals on the board, 2-1, at that point, and 4-1 after the top of the fifth inning...

• Victor Robles singled, moved to third on a double by CJ Abrams, and scored on a sac fly by Lane Thomas in the eighth, but it was 7-2 Cards at that point, before the visitors added two more runs in the top of the ninth, on Paul DeJong’s two-run shot, 9-2, and 9-3 in the end, after Riley Adams tripled to drive Stone Garrett in one out after Garrett’s one-out hit in the Nats’ ninth...

BACK PAGE - Keeping Keibert Going:

Keibert Ruiz, 24, played in 58 of the Washington Nationals’ 71 games before getting another night off in the 2nd of 3 with the Cards in Nationals Park last night, with those 58 games the fifth-most amongst NL catchers through two and a half months this season.

Ruiz has started behind the plate in 57 of those games, and as the club highlighted in their pregame notes for last night’s game, he’s produced for the Nationals.

“[Ruiz] ... has a .487 SLG (3 2B, 5 HR) in his last 21 [games],” and he, “[h]as hit safely in 13 of the 21 (.256 AVG),” with his, “[five] HR[s] over that span [tied for] 3rd among MLB catchers.”

Before last night’s game, Ruiz’s 7.9% K% on the year, was second-lowest in the majors (for all hitters, not just catchers, and behind only the Marlins’ Luis Arraez - 5.3% K%), and, the club’s notes mention, he, “... has struck out [just] 8 times in his last 127 plate appearances (6.3%).

Though he has been clear earlier this season he plans to get Riley Adams more starts as the season goes along, Ruiz wants to play every day, so the sixth-year skipper, Davey Martinez, is tasked with managing his workload, and making sure he’s healthy for the long run in what is his fourth season in the majors at just 24 years old.

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

“So far, so good,” Martinez said of the workload to this point. “Again he gets a day off today just to kind of get him off his feet with all the different [start] times of game, but I’m pretty proud of what he’s been doing lately too as far as his maintenance stuff. He wants to play every day, but I tell him, ‘We got to be smart about it,’ so we’ll keep an eye on that, but I’m trying to give him at least 1-2 days off a week now that it’s getting a little bit warmer, and definitely keep an eye on his workload as well, but I really feel like he can play probably 130-135 games this year, and that would be awesome if he could do that.”

Martinez and his staff are watching closely though, monitoring Ruiz at and behind the plate to make sure he’s able to keep going out there as much as possible. What signs do they try to monitor at the plate to see if Ruiz is dragging or in need of a break?

“I think you can look at some of the stuff, like if he’s chasing, if he’s jumping at balls. I kind of tend to look at that a little bit,” Martinez explained. “The focus thing with him, but a lot of it has to do with just his legs. Because he’s up and down all game long. The other thing I look at too, you know, the amount of balls he gets hit. He gets hit a lot, especially in his head, and that kind of worries me a little bit, so when I see him really get jolted, our training staff is on him, every day, and if I feel like he really needs a day just to kind of see where he’s at I’ll just kind of give him a day after.”