Williams vs Texas in D.C.:
All three runs Trevor Williams allowed in his five-inning start against the Phillies in CBP last week came on a pair of home runs in the first (by Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto), but the starter settled in after the rough start, and gave the Nationals four scoreless innings after the three-run first, earning the W in what ended up being a 5-4 game in the visiting team’s favor.
Williams left a full-count curve up inside for Castellanos, who hit it 380 ft. to left, and Realmuto hit the second home run of the game on a first-pitch fastball that was pretty much middle-middle.
“The only pitch that I want back is the one to Realmuto,” Williams said after the win, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.
“I thought I executed fine with what we wanted to do to Castellanos. But they’re a good hitting ballclub and there are guys that can slug through that lineup one through nine.
“Unfortunately, those pitches you don’t get back and can lead to big innings for them.
“But just stick with the game plan because what we were doing, we thought we were executing well.”
By hanging in there and holding on with the rest of the team, Williams extended a personal unbeaten streak to five straight outings (3-0), over which he’d put up a 4.81 ERA, a 5.96 FIP, and a .320/.364/.534 line against in 24 1⁄3 IP.
Trying to extend the streak into the All-Star break, Williams gave up two walks, two hits, and two runs in a long-ish, 25-pitch first inning, with Texas Rangers’ outfielder Adolis García (RBI groundout) and catcher Jonah Heim (RBI single) driving in runs for an early lead in Nationals Park.
Williams worked around a two-out double in a 13-pitch second, and with the score 2-1 Rangers in the third, the right-hander retired the side in order in a 13-pitch frame.
He gave up a two-out double again in the fourth, but stranded the runner (Ezequiel Duran), but it didn’t go so well for the starter when he gave up back-to-back two-out knocks in the fifth, with Nathaniel Lowe singling and Adolis Garcia doubling before Josh Jung drove both runners in with single which put the Rangers up 4-1.
Williams returned to the mound at 94 pitches in the sixth, and finished up his outing with a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 frame which took him up to a season-high 110 pitches.
Trevor Williams’ Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 110 P, 68 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
“I can’t say enough about what Trevor did,” Martinez said in his post game press conference following the Nationals’ 7-2 loss to the Rangers. “Six innings — he threw 110 pitches — but man, we needed that, big-time. He stepped up big-time ... He’s a true veteran. He knows he had to go out there, he knows he’s got to take the ball. I thought he threw the ball really well. The two-run bloop hit there was the one that we could have done without. But he threw the ball well.”
Williams went as far as he could go a night after the Nationals had to patch together a long outing after rain wiped out MacKenzie Gore just 1 1⁄3 IP into his start. Longer outings by the veteran righty could be something we see more of going forward, as he build back up to it after moving between the bullpen and rotation in recent years.
“I think we could do that more,” Martinez said.
“We got to remember too, Trevor, for the last couple years — he didn’t start, he was a spot-starter, and pitched out of the bullpen, so he’s getting built up. Today he felt pretty strong, so we let him go out there for the sixth.”
• Joey Meneses hit his third home run of the year in 2022 in his sixth game (fifth start). It did take him... a bit ... longer this season (81 games), but for his third this year he got all of the 90 MPH 3-2 heater from Rangers’ left-handed starter Cody Bradford and he hit 379 ft. to left field, clobbering the high outside four-seamer to cut Texas’s early, two-run lead in half, 2-1 in the second.
• Alex Call singled with one out and newly-anointed leadoff man CJ Abrams walked to put two on against Bradford in the home-half of the third, but two outs later both runners got stranded with Stone Garrett striking out and Joey Meneses grounding out to end the threat.
• Meneses doubled his home run total on the year with his second of the night and fourth of the season in the first at-bat of the Nats’ sixth, taking Rangers’ reliever Glenn Otto deep on a 93 MPH first-pitch fastball up and in the slugger hit 428 ft. to left field. 4-2 TX.
the plural of meneses is menesi— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 8, 2023
DOUBLE DINGERS!!!! pic.twitter.com/X5w1J3LDMt
“Joey with two big home runs for him, hopefully he gets it going,” Martinez said after the loss.
“I know we got the All-Star break, but that’s kind of nice to see him swing the bat like that.”
What was different for Meneses on his first two-home run night in the majors?
“He’s just aggressive on the fastball,” the manager said. “Caught the ball — got ready early, caught the ball out front. He’s been working really hard on trying to hit the ball out front a little bit more, and he got the bat head out in front of home plate.”
Joan Adon, called up before last night’s game to give the Nationals some length in the ‘pen, took over on the mound for the Nationals in the top of the seventh, gave up a solo shot out to right-center field by Corey Seager on a center-cut, 91.5 MPH, 2-0 fastball that cleared the out-of-town scoreboard, 5-2 Rangers. Adolis García hit a 1-1 slider up in the zone 395 ft. to left field one out later, 6-2.
Another All-Star has just left the yard! pic.twitter.com/aYL9WR9Ki8— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 8, 2023
A leadoff single by Travis Jankowski, a stolen base, wild pitch, and sac fly (by Ezequiel Duran) added to the Rangers’ lead, 7-2 after seven and a half.
Adon returned to the mound in the top of the ninth and retired the side in order to send it to the bottom of the inning...
BACK PAGE - Garcìa Chasing:
Luis García sat out of the series finale with the Reds on Thursday, and his manager talked before the game about what he’s seen from the 23-year-old in the past few weeks, over which García was 3 for 25 (.120/.154/.160) with one double, a walk, and three Ks in seven games (six starts).
“Chasing,” Davey Martinez said of the cause of the struggles for García.
“Chasing a lot. His chase rate went up,” the manager added. “He was down around 26%, it’s up now to like almost 35%, so we’ve got to get him back to stop chasing.”
Nats Stats: Baseball Savant has García at a 30% Chase% on the year, which is down significantly from 2022’s 40% Chase% over the full season.
Asked to explain García’s recent lack of discipline at the plate, his manager said he believed it was a result of his young infielder pressing a bit.
“He’s just that — all of a sudden, when your results aren’t there for some young hitters, they start trying to do a little bit more and start getting outside the zone,” Martinez explained.
“It should be the opposite. Just try to get a ball in the zone, be a little bit more patient. This is something we work on with all our young hitters.”
The fact that García enjoyed success this season with a more disciplined approach at the plate, Martinez said, did give him something to point/refer to when trying to get the hitter back on track.
“Absolutely,” Martinez said. “I’ll call him in today and sit down with him again, as I do every so often, just talk to him about just getting the ball in the zone and get ready earlier to hit and give himself a chance to hit good pitches.”
When he does talk to García, he said, he would, as always, stress the positives as they try to work through the issues now causing problems.
“I don’t want these guys to dwell on the mistakes,” Martinez said. “I want to stay positive with them and tell them what they’re doing good, so I’ll have a conversation and show him that, ‘Hey, when you don’t chase, and when you don’t do this, this is the results. Much better, right? So let’s get back to not chasing, get a good pitch to hit, work good counts, and just stay in the middle of the field.”
Lane Thomas led off for the Nationals in 54 of the previous 55 games, putting up a pretty-impressive .322/.363/.570 line, 19 doubles, and 12 home runs in 248 plate appearances in that stretch, but manager Davey Martinez decided to move CJ Abrams to the leadoff spot for last night’s series opener with the Rangers in the nation’s capital.
Abrams, 22, who’s spent the majority of the year hitting 8th or 9th in the lineup in his 2nd big league campaign, has been on a nice run in the last few weeks, with a .293/.349/.483 line, six doubles, a triple, and a home run in that stretch, and Martinez decided it could in fact help the young shortstop to hit atop the lineup for a little while.
“I’m going to give him an opportunity,” Martinez told reporters in his pregame presser on Friday night. “I talked to him about it earlier today. I want to give him a chance to go up there and lead off for us, see if he can jumpstart our lineup a little bit and push Lane back to two. I think [Abrams will] get better pitches. He’s been doing a lot better with not chasing, taking some walks, so I want to give him an opportunity to get up there and see what he can do.”
In his first game as the leadoff hitter this season, Abrams went 1 for 3 with a walk in a losing effort, with the two plays above on the defensive end. Martinez said after their loss he liked what he saw.
“CJ looked great up there. A walk, a hit, a stolen base. A play made behind second base, I mean, unbelievable,” he told reporters.
Could the confidence he builds with the sort of defensive plays he’s making fairly regularly translate to success at the plate for the shortstop?
“He’s been getting better [defensively],” Martinez said when asked about Abrams’ work in the field sparking something at the plate.
“He’s been getting better every day, and you can see that the way he’s playing.
“He plays with a lot of energy. He wants to get better. So he’s been good. Like I said earlier, I wanted to move him up there, I wanted to see if he gets better pitches, I wanted to see how handles himself about swinging at better pitches. Tonight was a great night for him.”