MacKenzie Gore wasn’t happy with the decision to stop the game because of rain just 1 1⁄3 innings into the series finale with the Cincinnati Reds in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park Thursday afternoon, and the 1-hour, 43-minute delay which followed ended any possibility the 24-year-old southpaw could return to the mound when/if play resumed.
His manager, in Davey Martinez’s post game press conference after what ended up a 5-4 loss in 10 innings, said there was no argument to made by the starter.
“No. After an hour and a half — we talked to him and he was good,” Martinez told reporters.
“I told him, I said, ‘I’m not going to put you out there like that.’ Last year he had arm injuries, ‘Won’t do that to you.”
Gore took his time coming off the mound when they started rolling out the tarp, perhaps knowing it might mean the end of his final pre-All-Star Game outing.
“MacKenzie’s a competitor,” catcher Riley Adams said of the starter’s reaction to the call to go into a delay, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“And he’s one of the most competitive guys on the team,” Adams added.
“You saw him kind of slowly walk off the field once they called to bring the tarp on, and that just shows how bad he wanted to stay out there.”
Gore threw in the bullpen later, but Martinez said it was part wishful thinking as both teams waited for the rain to pass, and partly getting some more work in.
“When they told us it could [resume] at 2:00,” the manager explained, “... we said he could probably go back out for a couple innings, but anything after that, I just told him just make sure you throw some pitches down there, so we’ll reset him for his next start.”
With the starter out in the second, a parade of relievers (Mason Thompson, Jordan Weems, Jose A. Ferrer, Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, and Cory Abbott) took the mound and did all they could to give the club a chance to avoid getting swept in the four-game set with their red-hot opponents (who’d won three straight over the Nationals in the series, and, “... 19 of their last 23 games and 27 of their last 37 games,” in advance of the finale in D.C.).
Thompson gave up a run in 2 2⁄3 IP, Ferrer gave the Nationals 1 1⁄3 scoreless, Finnegan gave up a run on two hits in an inning in relief, allowing the Reds to tie it up at 3-3 in the eighth, then Harvey gave up two runs, one earned, on a go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th, 5-3, before Abbott finished up the inning.
“It starts with the first guy and wondering how far he can go,” Martinez said when asked how he approached trying to cover the innings his bullpen had to after the rain delay.
“Mason did a great job, he really did. I was hoping for an inning and 2⁄3 and he gave us more than that, so that set the tone and the rest of the guys just followed suit. I thought they did really well.”
Going to extras after the nearly-two-hour delay just added to the difficulty of just getting through the game.
“The guys stepped up for the most part,” Martinez said after the 14th loss in the last 15 at home in Nationals Park.
“Abbott, who was just a day’s rest, comes in and finishes the game for us, which was great.
“The big question is tomorrow. We’ll see how everybody is tomorrow.”