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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats drop lopsided 17-3 decision to Cubs, rubber match tonight...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ 14-run loss to the Cubbies in Wrigley...

Corbin in Wrigley:

Patrick Corbin wrapped up the first half of his fifth season in D.C. with a solid outing against the Texas Rangers in the nation’s capital which saw the 33-year-old southpaw (whose family welcomed the birth of a new baby last week) give up one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings in an efficient, 91-pitch start.

“I felt good,” Corbin said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco after his 19th turn in the rotation this year.

“I think the main thing is getting ahead of some of these guys, quality pitches. Got some strikeouts early and then just was around the zone. Got them to expand a little bit and got some weak contact.”

Corbin retired the first 10 Rangers’ hitters he faced (on 32 pitches), stranded the back-to-back singles which snapped the streak of retired batters, and worked around a leadoff single in the fifth before giving up a run on a leadoff double, walk, and RBI single in the sixth. He returned to the mound for a scoreless seventh before he was done.

“His fastball was good location,” manager Davey Martinez said. “His slider was really good early on. Really good. I think that was the big difference that once he established his slider, then the fastball played in. But when he gets ahead, he’s really good.

“That one inning he started getting the ball up a little bit. I was a little bit concerned. But then he settled back down and started throwing strikes again down in the zone.”

Corbin finished up with a 4.89 ERA, a 4.92 FIP, 33 walks, 74 Ks, and a .301/.349/.458 line against in 108 23 IP in the first half.

His second half got off to a good start, with a 1-0 lead before he took the mound in Wrigley Field to face Chicago’s Cubs and worked around a one-out single, striking out two in a quick, 18-pitch first, and it was 3-0 when he came out for the second and struck out two in what ended up a 12-pitch frame.

Corbin added his fifth K, and stranded another one-out single in an 18-pitch third, but a walk in the first at-bat in the fourth, on a questionable ball four call, single, and sac fly resulted in the first run of the game for the home team, 3-1, and the starter was up to 61 pitches overall after a 13-pitch inning.

A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth, in which he picked up his 6th K, left Corbin at 73 pitches total.

The southpaw returned to the mound in the sixth and gave up a long home run to left field by Seiya Suzuki on a 2-2 slider low and not quite in enough from the Nationals’ starter. A 413-foot blast, 3-2 Nats. Ian Happ singled in the next at-bat, stole second, and scored on a throwing error by Luis García, who made a diving play on a Cody Bellinger grounder but threw it by first on an ill-advised attempt to get the second out of the inning.

That was it for Corbin. 3-3 game. It didn’t stay that way for long, as the Cubs piled on runs in the next few innings and went on to win 17-3.

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 61 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

“Patrick was good,” Martinez said after the game. “He was good for a while. Just his pitch count got up there, and after not doing anything for nine days, we got him out.”

“I felt pretty good,” Corbin said after the game, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“I thought the ball was coming out pretty good; my slider was good. It’s just unfortunate how things went down later in that game.”


• Lane Thomas hit a first-pitch fastball up in the zone from Jameson Taillon “almost to the top of the bleachers” as Bob Carpenter called it in left field in Wrigley Field in the second at-bat of last night’s game with the Cubbies, sending his 15th home run 413 ft at 104.9 MPH off the bat, 1-0.

Going into the second of three in Chicago, Washington’s No. 2 hitter had, “hit safely in 15 of his last 19 and 25 of his last 30 games,” as the Nationals highlighted in their pregame notes for the matchup, “... going .325/.366/.537 with 11 doubles, five home runs, 20 RBI[s], seven walks, two stolen bases, and 20 runs scored during the 30-game stretch.”

In 93 games and 403 plate appearances this season, Thomas was two home runs shy of his previous season-high, the 17 he hit in 146 games and 538 PAs last year.

• Keibert Ruiz spit on four pitches out of the zone from Taillon and took a leadoff walk in the top of the second, Dominic Smith doubled to right on an 0-2 curve down and in, and Corey Dickerson drove both of them in with a line drive single to center on a low, 1-2 change from the Cubs’ starter, 3-0 Nationals.


It was a 3-3 game in Wrigley when Patrick Corbin was lifted with the potential go-ahead run on first base in the home-half of the sixth.

Amos Willingham took over on the mound and hit Yan Gomes with the first pitch he threw.


But he got the next two outs without further damage. Tied at 3-3 after six in Wrigley.

Willingham returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh and gave up the second home run in two games by Patrick Wisdom, who hit a 1-2 fastball inside to deep left field, putting the Cubs on top for the first time in the game, 4-3.

Davey Martinez Post Game: “I thought Willingham was the guy — he got out of the inning, next inning he got in trouble.”

Three straight singles followed, 5-3, before manager Davey Martinez pulled Willingham from the mound.

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jose A. Ferrer took over and gave up an RBI double by Ian Happ, 6-3, and three more scored before he could get out of the inning, with help from the Cubs, who ran into an out to end it with a 9-3 lead.

“Missed location,” Martinez said of the issue for his young relievers. “Home run by Wisdom the ball was right down the middle. I know he was trying to go up right there, and then the good thing — Ferrer threw strikes. But they’ve got to learn.

“They’ve got to learn when you’re out there in those situations, you’ve got to make pitches.

“You’ve got to hit your location. You’ve got to work ahead. But like I said, it’s going to be a process, but they’re going to learn. They’ve got to learn. They’ve both got good stuff. It’s just a matter of continuing to work with them and get them out there.”

It got worse. Paolo Espino gave up seven hits, two walks, and eight earned runs in the home eighth, and the Cubs went on to win 17-3.

“He’s just — he’s getting to two strikes, he’s just not burying his curveball, his slider,” Martinez said of Espino’s struggles.

“Everything is kind of up in the zone and some of the hits were not hard, but when you keep the ball up like that they’re able to put the bat on the ball. So, he’s been doing this for quite a while now, so he understands and he knows he’s just got to make better pitches with two strikes. But he is who he is. He’s going to get you off-balance, but like I said, when he gets to two strikes he’s got to understand how to bury his pitches, which he’s done many, many times.”


Considering he is producing, bouncing back after a down-year with Detroit’s Tigers in 2022, while playing out the 1-year/$5M deal he got from Washington’s Nationals this winter, 29-year-old Jeimer Candelario is a prime candidate for a trade at the deadline in a few weeks.

A recent scare, with the switch-hitting third baseman injuring his right thumb, did raise concerns, but he came back with a bang, homering on the first pitch he saw following a couple days off to deal with the injury, which his manager, and tireless booster, Davey Martinez, interpreted as a good sign Candelario was over the issue.

“Yeah, it was a very good sign, and I’m glad he did that, and then all of a sudden he gets hit in the hand,” later in the game, “I’m like, oh boy, here we go again. You know?

“But yeah, he’s a big part of our lineup, I was glad to see him in there and he hits a big home run for us today.”

As the club mentioned in their pregame notes for the second of three in Wrigley, Candelario hit his 14th homer of the year on Monday night, and, “surpassed his 2022 totals,” with the 14 home runs and 27 doubles on the year in 87 games and 368 plate appearances after he’d hit 19 doubles and 13 home runs in 124 games and 467 PAs last season.

Candelario started Tuesday’s game with a .263/.340/.486 line in ‘23, up from .217/.272/.361 overall in ‘22.

Is it safe to say this is what the Nationals imagined when they gambled on a bounce-back season from the veteran infielder?

“This is who I know that he can be,” Martinez said.

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

“We still got a long ways to go, and he’s done really well, but like I said, for him it’s about not trying to do too much. Just staying in the middle of the field. Home runs will come. I told him that before. ‘Just understand who you are. You’re a guy that could hit 50 doubles, drive in some runs for us, play great defense,’ and he’s done that, so I love writing his name in the lineup. You know what you’re going to [get] from him every day.”

With GM Mike Rizzo telling reporters in Chicago on Tuesday the club is “open for business” as the deadline approaches, has the sixth-year skipper in D.C. talked to Candelario about a potential trade in a few weeks sending him off to a contender?

“I told him, ‘Hey, you can only control what you can control,’” Martinez explained, “... and I said, ‘You’re doing that every day by playing the way you’re playing. So focus on the now, don’t worry about what’s going to happen. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. Just focus on continuing to get better, focus on trying to help us win games, and it’s just a part of the game, it really is. You can’t control those things.’ I always explain to him, ‘Look, I played for eight different teams. And as long as I had a uniform on, man, I’d go help anybody else try to win.’ So, ‘We love you here,’ he knows that, ‘But just keep playing hard and we’ll see what happens.’”


Elijah Green, the Nationals’ 2022 1st Round pick, taken 5th overall last summer, hadn’t been in a game since June 28th, and there was plenty of speculation about why the 19-year-old, struggling some in his first pro season at Single-A Fredericksburg (with a .218/.327/.318 line, 10 doubles, a triple, three home runs, 22 stolen bases, 34 walks, and 106 Ks in 58 games and 248 PAs - for a rough 42.7% K%), wasn’t playing, but GM Mike Rizzo cleared some of that up when he spoke with reporters before last night’s game in Wrigley Field:

MASN’s Mark Zuckerman quoted the GM in D.C. at length explaining what’s been going on with the outfielder ranked 4th in the organization by MLB’s Pipeline scouts at the start this season.

“We had it MRI’d, but it’s all clean, except for it was in a splint for about 5-6 days,” Rizzo said of what he later followed up to say was the left wrist. “So now he’s rehabbing it to return to play, and we’ll see him back in Fredericksburg soon.”

Rizzo also offered a scouting report on what he’s seen from Green when he was healthy this season.

“I see elite defense. I see elite baserunning, base-stealing. His exit velocities are terrific. And we’ve got to get past the contact part of it,” Rizzo said. “A lot of it is pitch selection, and that’s tough for a lot of young players. It was something [Padres’ 2022 2nd Round pick] James Wood [acquired by the Nats in the Juan Soto trade] went through out of high school, and we’ve had several players in the past that have gone through it. But [Green] is such a superb, elite athlete and his skill set is so great, I’m not worried at all about it.

“He’s a young player at a (low-)A league, and he’s taking his lumps and he’s learning what to swing at and what not to swing at. Right now, he’s swinging at too many bad pitches.

“So that’s something we have to work on.”

Washington Nationals Minor League game: Delmarva Shorebirds at Fredricksburg Nationals Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops Kris Kline offered his take on the process of trying to develop young hitters like Green, when he spoke during the recently-completed 2023 MLB Draft.

“Great athlete, good tools,” Kline said. “He’s just going to take a while to develop.

“Normally you’re looking at 1,000 at-bats, 1500 at-bats, where all of a sudden it starts to click for him a little bit, so you have to be patient there.”

Green is currently, at 19 years old, up to 300 plate appearances as a pro, though he should add some more to his resume before the season is over if things go as planned with the left wrist.