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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats & Phillies split doubleheader in CBP; and Joey Meneses homers twice in nightcap...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals and Phillies’ twin-bill in Citizens Bank Park...

Williams in CBP:

Winless in his last five starts (0-2, 6.08 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 10 walks, 16 strikeouts, .320/.382/.546 line against in 23 23 IP), Trevor Williams also missed a turn in the Nationals’ rotation on the Bereavement List between his four-inning, 89-pitch outing against the NY Mets on July 30th in Citi Field and yesterday’s start on the road in Citizens Bank Park.

Williams’ manager, Davey Martinez, said his starter struggled to find a groove, but battled in New York.

“I think he just took a little more time to kind of find himself a little bit,” Martinez said. “But he battled.”

Williams posted a 3.93 ERA over the first two months this season, but over the last two, he’d put up a 5.53 ERA going into the outing against Philadelphia’s Phillies.

“He’s got to make his pitches,” Martinez said when asked what’s been different. “He didn’t throw very many changeups [against the Mets], I think he only threw like four, and that was surprising to me, I don’t know why he didn’t use his changeup a little bit more, but he’ll be back out there in five or six days.”

Williams tossed 2 13 scoreless to start yesterday in Citizens Bank Park, but a single/E:5 and a 2-run home run followed in the next two at-bats, with Johan Rojas singling and taking a base on Ildemaro Vargas’s throwing error, then scoring when Kyle Schwarber hit a 3-2 changeup low in the zone 363 ft. to right, 3-2, after the Nationals jumped out to an early lead, and 3-3 on an Alec Bohm blast in the next at-bat, with Bohm hitting a 2-0 heater up over the middle of the plate 419 ft. to right-center.

Kyle Schwarber hit a two-out, three-run home run off the right-hander in the fourth, sending an 88 MPH 1-0 fastball 447 ft. to right-center and into the second deck to put the Phillies up 6-3 on the Nationals. 114.3 MPH off the bat. Crushed.

Williams got the final out of the inning, but was up to 84 pitches, trailing by three runs...

The starter returned to the mound and got two outs in the fifth, but a hit on his 103rd pitch of the game ended his outing...

Trevor Williams’ Line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 3 HRs, 103 P, 64 S, 2/2 GO/FO.

“There are some positives to look at through there,” Williams said of his return to the rotation.

“You eliminate the long-ball and it’s a different ballgame. So I think the pitches that I thought were executed, were executed today. The two I wish I got back were the Bohm homer and the second Schwarber homer. Those two are the ones that are going to sting.

“And unfortunately, those three-run homers hurt. But as far as my routine the last week or so, I was able to get my work in to be prepared for today.”

While he wants the pitch from the second Schwarber homer back, Williams said he actually thought he threw the changeup he wanted on the first home run by the one-time National.

“You tip your hat in that situation,” Williams said. “I thought I executed it and he just put a better swing on it.”

Wheeler vs Washington:

Davey Martinez liked his team’s approach against Zach Wheeler when the Nationals faced the right-handed veteran on June 2nd in D.C. and put up seven runs on eight hits and one walk over just 2 23 IP.

“We did a great job ... with Wheeler,” the manager explained.

“Wheeler is a tough guy to face, and we did a really good job about, one, being aggressive, but yet fouling some tough pitches off, getting to the next pitch, you know that’s what I want these guys to continue to do. If you get a pitch that you should hit, and hit hard, hit it. Don’t worry about getting to the next pitch, but they’ve been working good at-bats.”

His club scored four runs on seven hits in five innings when they faced Wheeler again on the road in July, but the Phillies put 19 on the board in that game, a 19-4 win.

Overall this year, however, Wheeler took the mound Tuesday afternoon in Citizens Bank Park leading all NL pitchers in fWAR (+4.3), and tied with [Braves’ starter Spencer] Strider, for the, “... National League lead in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), at 2.94,” and ranked second with an, “[e]xpected ERA (xERA) of 3.27 ... trailing only Strider (3.08).”

Keibert Ruiz, who started the day 0 for 11 with four Ks against Wheeler head to head in their respective careers, got all of a 95 MPH fastball up high inside and hit it 355 ft to right field, off the scoreboard/facade of the second deck in Citizens Bank, for a one-out HR which put the visiting Nationals up early, 1-0. No. 12 for Ruiz this season.

CJ Abrams doubled on a first-pitch fastball up in the zone to lead off the third, and scored on a 359 ft., two-run home run to left field by Lane Thomas in the next at-bat, 3-0. Thomas connected with a 3-2 sinker inside and turned it around, lining it over the fence for No. 20 this season.

Dom Smith and Ruiz connected for one-out singles later in the third, but Wheeler stranded both runners, and retired 11 of 12 to end his outing after six strong, with the Phillies up by a score of 8-3 by then on the way to an 8-4 win.


Josiah Gray gave up a run on two hits in the first three innings of his start against Milwaukee last week in Washington, but he didn’t get out of the fourth, giving up back-to-back one-out walks, and a base-loading, two-out free pass before surrendering back-to-back, two-run hits which turned a 3-1 lead into a 5-3 deficit, and after the second of two singles, the Nationals’ starter was up to 39 pitches in the inning and 81 overall when he got the hook.

“Just one bad inning,” manager Davey Martinez said of Gray’s outing in what ended up a 6-4 loss. “He lost the strike zone. He was two, three pitches away from getting out of the inning.

“He just couldn’t find the strike zone. He threw a lot of pitches in that inning, so I don’t want to keep him out there.

“But it does happen, so he’ll rebound, come back in five days and do it again.”

Gray took the mound in Philly’s Citizens Bank Park last night, where he held the Phillies to a run on six hits in six innings back in late June, striking out eight, and gave up a run early, on an RBI double by Trea Turner, who drove Nick Castellanos in with a line drive to center on a first pitch sinker up and over the middle of the plate, 1-0.

After working around a leadoff single in the third, Gray took the mound in the fourth with a 2-1 lead, courtesy of a two-run home run by Ildemaro Vargas, and struck out two of three in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame which left him at 68 pitches overall.

Kyle Schwarber, who homered twice in the first game of the doubleheader, took a one-out walk from Gray in the Philly fifth, and scored one out later, when Bryce Harper hit a 397-ft. home run on a 2-2 cutter low in the middle of the zone, 3-2 Phillies. An infield single in the at-bat which followed ended Gray’s outing after 92 pitches overall.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 92 P, 58 S, 2/4 GO/FO.

Trea Turner, whose single ended Gray’s outing, stole second with Jose A. Ferrer on the hill, and scored on an RBI single by Bryson Stott, 4-2 Phillies.

Joey Meneses hit a two-run blast in the seventh to tie things up at 4-4, however, and he came up again in the ninth and hit a 1-2 curve from Craig Kimbrel 394 ft. to left-center for a go-ahead home run, 5-4 Nats.

“As soon as I hit it, it felt good. I knew I hit a home run,” Meneses told reporters, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty after the game.

Kyle Finnegan came on to close it out in the home-half of the inning and retired the side in order to end the nightcap of the doubleheader, 5-4 Nats final.

“Joey had a great night, he really did,” Davey Martinez said after the win. “Two big home runs for us, but as I always say, this team just keeps battling, we play hard for 27 outs, anything can happen. In this ballpark, you just to go try to get the ball in the air, so it was a good night for Joey, good night for us. We split a doubleheader here, fantastic, we come back tomorrow and go 1-0.”