Gore Holds It Close, Nats Walk Off With Win:
Both 24-year-old starter MacKenzie Gore and Nationals’ manager, Davey Martinez, pointed to the southpaw’s four walks in five innings last time out, on the road in NY (NL), as one of the main issues in a solid-ish outing.
Gore tossed four scoreless innings to start in Citi Field, stranding two of four free passes, including a leadoff walk in the third, but back-to-back walks which started the fifth both came around to score on a two-out, three-run home run by Pete Alonso, who crushed a hanging slider.
“Well, a slider down the middle is a big no-no for [Alonso], and that’s what he got. And when he gets those, that’s what he does,” Gore said of the big hit off him in the outing.
“Just wanted to go down and in, but we didn’t get it there — or I didn’t.”
But it was the two walks before the dinger which were the real issue.
“Two bad walks, and then a hanging slider, it’s 3-0,” Martinez said after the loss. “But the walks, I always talk about the leadoff walk, and then he walked the next guy and you put yourself in a position to face a pretty good hitter.”
MacKenzie Gore, Nasty 89mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/HkN1668uXR— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 2, 2023
“The walks were bad,” Gore acknowledged.
“It’s just frustrating, because we had done a better job of that lately. At least getting ahead of guys.
“And then today, even the innings before [the fifth] just wasn’t great. So, just frustrating.”
Looking to bounce back from the less-than-stellar start, Gore took on Milwaukee’s Brewers in the series finale in D.C. on Wednesday, and the starter put together another solid turn in the Nationals’ rotation, giving up a two-out solo homer in the second, on a high, 93 MPH, 2-1 fastball Tyrone Taylor hit 396 ft to left-center, but nothing else through five. Gore issued his first walk of the game with two down in the fifth, but picked the batter off first.
In the sixth, however, Gore issued a leadoff walk (to Brice Turang), threw a wild pitch (which allowed Turang to take second), and gave up a single (by Joey Wiemer), and RBI double (by Christian Yelich), as the Brewers broke a 1-1 tie, 2-1. With runners on second and third and no one out, the Nats’ starter struck out three straight to keep it close, and the Nationals rallied against Milwaukee’s closer Devin Williams in the ninth, loading the bases on an ROE, a hit, and a walk, before a second error on a grounder to third on which third baseman Andruw Monasterio threw wide of home, allowed two runs to score for a walk-off win.
MacKenzie Gore's 3Ks in the 6th. pic.twitter.com/KLyvNkKEo1— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 2, 2023
In hindsight, Gore’s ability to get those three consecutive Ks and limit the game in the top of the sixth, ended up being huge.
“Really good. Really good,” Martinez said after the 3-2 win. “That sixth inning he just aired it out, and that was a big moment of the game, kept us in the game.”
Gore, noting how the inning started, wasn’t thrilled with the frame, but he said it was also about, “just understanding where we’re at in the game, what kind of game it is, and those runs were important,” so he focused in and emptied the tank to get the final three outs of his appearance via strikeout.
He got just nine swinging strikes on the day, seven on his four-seamer, and 15 called strikes, spread out across his arsenal, and coming off his 95-pitch, five-inning start, Gore threw just 89 pitches in six innings, and limited the walks to just two.
“He was cruising,” Martinez said. “I looked up at one point and he had — in the fourth inning he had 45 pitches or 47 pitches, and I thought this is exactly what we’re talking about with him, limit the walks, throw strikes, get ahead early. He did that today. I think he had one walk that started that inning, the leadoff batter, so he was frustrated about that, but I told him, ‘All in all, you did a great job today.’”
“You just didn’t want them to score, so you try to figure out how to get them to not score,” Gore said of the final three outs.
Overall, he said, he didn’t have great stuff, but he made it work.
“We made good enough pitches,” he explained.
“I didn’t think the stuff was great, but we made pitches, got a lot of early outs, and then we ended up getting some strikes when we needed them.”
“The stuff just wasn’t as good today, which is fine, you still have to get outs, and that’s what we did.”
For it all end with a walk-off win, against a team competing for a postseason berth, and to take 2 of 3 from the Brewers in the series, was big for Nationals.
“As I said all year, they’re relentless,” Martinez said.
“We’re going to play hard for 27 outs, we’re going to try to compete and they did it again today.”
“I say this every time,” Gore said again, “... can’t say enough about this group in here. Down going into the ninth inning, then coming back, and winning against a really good arm. Big win for us.”
After A Big Win...:
Luis García went 0 for 1 in a pinch hit appearance in Wednesday afternoon’s win, leaving the Nats’ 23-year-old second baseman 0 for 9 in the 3-game series with the Brewers this week in Nationals Park, and 0 for his last 14 overall, after a .217/.250/.301 month of July in which he hit just two doubles and one home run.
The homer came off Max Scherzer during the series with the Mets, in a 3 for 4 game for the infielder.
García’s manager, Davey Martinez, talked after the multi-hit game, about what was working for García at the plate that night.
“He slowed his legs down, which we’ve been working really hard for him doing, and he hit the ball really well today,” the skipper said.
“He really slowed his legs down, stayed behind the ball really well, and he had something behind his swings, so hopefully tomorrow we can get him to do the same thing.”
García did go 2 for 5 in the next game, but was hitless over the three which followed, and in an announcement after Wednesday’s game, the club said they were optioning him to Triple-A Rochester:
The moves came after Martinez spoke to reporters in his post game presser, so there will be no explanation of the decision to send García down until Friday’s pregame before the series with the Reds on the road in Cincinnati. So who’s going to play second? And what’s the next move in the outfielder after the club requested release waivers on Corey Dickerson as well?:
Sources: The Nationals are promoting Jeter Downs in Luis García’s roster spot. We’ll see Friday what the plan is for second base with García in AAA.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) August 2, 2023
Can also confirm @granthpaulsen’s report that Blake Rutherford is getting the call in Corey Dickerson’s spot. Keeps a left/right platoon option available in left field with Rutherford hitting left-handed. There’s also already a 40-man spot open with Dickerson’s release.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) August 2, 2023