This afternoon is the finale to this four-game series in Citifield that has been disastrous in results. The last two games were lost in the bullpen, and today the Nationals try to salvage a win before their trip back to Washington, D.C. The Nats will either escape from New York 10-games under .500 or 12-games under .500. That is how bad things are right now, and it is quite possible that no matter what the results are today that manager Dave Martinez might not be on that chartered train ride back to Union Station.
While the blame for this disastrous season could have been pinned on injuries, that excuse does not hold water anymore as the team is back to nearly full-strength. Last night’s configuration was Opening Day quality and Max Scherzer had his best statistical game of the season throwing a 6.0 inning shutout. Yes, the defense was not perfect, but the Nats had a 1-0 lead on the reigning Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, and the Nats took that lead to within 4-outs of a victory that could have turned things around. Could have. Might have. But it did not happen as closer Sean Doolittle had a meltdown of epic proportions allowing 6-runs to score in a span of less than 5-minutes.
“It happened so quick that I’m still trying to process it,” Doolittle said. “I made all that mess in 12-pitches.”
These meltdowns have put the rubber stamp on this Nationals 2019 season. Wins turned into defeats in an instant. The little things botched and/or not executed. Last night, maybe it was as simple as a double-switch to upgrade the left field defense to protect a one-run lead which was something that has plagued this team in close games going back to the 2017 NLDS. Those are the little things that some managers make note of. If you are behind by one run, you do not replace Juan Soto with Gerardo Parra. But up by one run in the 7th or 8th inning, you look for that double-switch or straight up move to give yourself that added defense. When Adeiney Hechavarria doubled in the 8th inning off of Kyle Barraclough, there was no doubt the ball was hit well, but it was a catchable ball if a better defender was out there and Gerardo Parra is a former Gold Glove outfielder if that has not been mentioned before, and he was sitting on the bench. Just saying.
“I feel like as athletes, professionals, whenever there’s something lacking — or you’re struggling, that’s the first thing you look at: effort,” Eaton said. “But like we’ve discussed in the last weeks, effort’s not the problem.”
“When you face adversity, this is when you reveal yourself,” Scherzer said. “Whether you have the mental fortitude to come back, and you can block out all the negativity that’s probably going to surround us right now. You’ve got to come forward to the game with that positive attitude of knowing what you can control and that you have the right mindset that you’re going to go out there and compete, and compete at 100 percent.”
Today’s matchup is left-hander Steven Matz and the Nationals Stephen Strasburg who got the Nats their last win as he carried the team on his back in a win over the Cubs. He has to be the stopper again today — but his team has to also have his back.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets
Stadium: CitiField, Queens, New York
1st Pitch: 12:10 pm EDT
TV: MASN2; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice: