MacKenzie Gore gave up six hits, three walks, and seven earned runs in 2 2⁄3 innings pitched on Saturday afternoon in Citizens Bank Park, struggling in both the second and third innings of a 19-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Gore struck out 2 of 3 batters faced in the first, but it was a mental error which stuck in the southpaw’s craw after the abbreviated outing in the blowout, and it was a blister which eventually led his manager to pull him after a total of 64 pitches, 37 strikes in a rough outing.
Gore gave up a leadoff double, hit a batter, and surrendered an RBI single which tied things up a 1-1 in the second innings of the 2nd of 3 in CBP, then things fell apart in the third, with back-to-back walks and a single loading the bases with no one out.
The lefty got a grounder to first which Dom Smith fielded, throwing to second for a force, but shortstop CJ Abrams pulled up abruptly instead of trying for the double play when he realized there was no one to receive a throw because Gore didn’t make his way over to cover at first base. An RBI groundout, RBI single, sac fly, two-run home run, walk, and an RBI double followed, and it was 7-1 when Gore got a visit at and was pulled from the mound.
“We went out there because he didn’t cover first base,” manager Davey Martinez explained in his post game press conference. “I thought maybe he did something to his ankle.
“Once I got out there, I saw him shaking his hand. He’s got like a little blister on his finger.
“So I wanted to take him out, get that taken a look at. But he says okay.”
“It’s always kind of something I deal with. So yeah, I’m fine. It had nothing to do with what happened, so...”
So... what did happen?
“I just didn’t execute,” the 24-year-old starter said. “We were going in. I missed in a lot. And then got behind those guys and I just didn’t execute pitches. So just got in bad counts. And it was just a big inning. I didn’t do a good job of minimizing the damage. Just a tough one.”
“The biggest thing is not getting over,” he added at another point. “We talk about doing little things right and that just can’t happen. And then that kind of led to, instead of getting two outs there, we only got one. And there was a sac fly for that. A two-out sac fly would have been a lot different. So sometimes you get hit, but just not getting over, that just, that can’t happen.”
“That’s just one of those things that I can control and that has to be done no matter what’s going on.
“You’re going to get hit some at some point in this league. But that one stings a little bit.”
So yeah, it bothered him.
“I thought maybe he had landed on his ankle wrong, he’s done that before,” Martinez said in discussing how he reacted to the mental error from his starter.
“And when I watched him I thought, ‘That’s kind of crazy that he does that, because he’s really good about that.’”
His assessment of what wasn’t working for the pitcher echoed Gore’s own.
“He got behind a few times, and then his location wasn’t what it was five days ago,” Martinez said.
“We talk about this all the time, when things start speeding up on him he starts working a lot quicker and he’s got to learn how to keep it simple.”
Gore told his manager the same thing he told reporters about the blister on his left middle finger.
“He kept saying he was fine, he was fine. He’s a kid that just wants to compete. He doesn’t want to ever get taken out,” Martinez said.
“When I saw that I said, ‘We’re going to take you out so you can get looked at.’ So I’ll talk to him again tomorrow and see how he’s doing.”
Gore (and the rest of the Nationals) were ready to move on from this one as soon as it was over.
“There’s another one in five days,” he said. “But understanding that there were some things I did today, that that’s why the outing was the way it was. Just got to execute a little better.
“And then we’ll make sure we get over from now on.”