Win #13 of 2019 as the calendar turned to May and the deficit was getting larger!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

Click here to watch Nats win #13 on MASN via MLB.TV at 6:30 pm tonight with the rest of us. Just a quick reminder of what we are doing if this is your first time: As a group, we are going to be re-watching all 105 wins from the Nats 2019 season in chronological order at 6:30 pm each night. We will all try to sync up to the same point in the game, and this is a work in progress to maneuver to the same point in the game. Feel free to ask in the comments section where everyone is in the game so you can sync up. Many people are joining in at different points, and most people are not commenting — rather just following along.

The MLB.TV library is unlocked and free to everyone for the 2018-2019 season courtesy of MLB. This win #13 is in the 30th game in the 2019 season, and the Nats took a 12-17 record into this game.

The Nationals have been losing series and falling further under the .500 mark, and found themselves in this game against the Cardinals trying to avoid a sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game was scheduled in the afternoon but rains would force the game into the night on a getaway day. This was also the part of the schedule where the Nats were playing without Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman. While Soto was not officially placed on the 10-day IL, he was out with back pain. The only way it seemed to win these games was to get exceptional starting pitching and some timely great bullpening.

The night before, it took less than 10 minutes to elapse in the game before a massive blunder happened in right-field on a misread of a Marcell Ozuna liner. The errant baseball had typical slice off of a right-hander’s bat that moves left to right. Once again starting centerfielder, Victor Robles, was moved to rightfield and the Ozuna liner turned what should have been an easy out into a double, and before you knew it 3-runs scored in the first inning. In a twist of irony, the Cardinals defense in the NLCS played balls like that into some good fortune for the Nats. Now we can laugh about that May 1st game, but on that day Max Scherzer was not laughing.

In that May 1st game, Scherzer should have had an easy night against his hometown team, but his offense could only muster up one run of support for their star pitcher who deserved better on this night. The Nats had only won ONE of Scherzer’s starts this season of the seven times he has pitched. Max had three stressful innings leading to a 110 pitch outing over 7 innings. After the 1st inning mishap, Scherzer did not allow another run to score. It was another game where the Nats offense had plenty of baserunners. The Cardinals had 11 hits in the game, but the Nats had 9 and lost 5-1. The bullpen’s scoreless streak ended at 16 innings in this game, but it did not seem to matter because you won’t win many games scoring just one run. 

One of the hotly debated parts of the game started before the first pitch when Juan Soto was scratched due to back spasms and the outfield was reconfigured. Soto was replaced by Michael Taylor, and Dave Martinez moved Adam Eaton from RF to LF and Victor Robles from CF to RF and inserted Taylor into CF. Why move your two starting outfielders? Sure, Eaton has not been a “plus” defender in rightfield but why move two players to insert Taylor? Robles has had two games this season in rightfield and both have been adventures. He is the centerfield starter and young without the experience of Eaton or Taylor. As it turned out, most of the outfield action was in rightfield, and the ball always seems to find you. There is the old saying “if it ain’t broke — don’t fix it.” Centerfield was just fine with Robles. As F.P. Santangelo mentioned on the game broadcast, the teams had no field time last night as he specifically mentioned Robles did not get any pre-game fungoes or shag flyballs in BP.

Other than that, Carter Kieboom was challenged multiple times in that game on groundballs. His range to his glove-side was lacking, and he committed an error in that game which was his second in his first week in the Majors. Kieboom was also involved in two bizarre plays of possible obstruction with a baserunner and one was called. The Cardinals seemingly were trying to rattle the young Kieboom and it worked. In the first inning MASN’s Bob Carpenter said, “The Cardinals smell blood in the water” which unfortunately was the exact wording from Cardinals players after the 2012 playoffs when they beat the Nationals in the NLDS amidst a game 5 meltdown. Carpenter, a former Cardinals announcer, knew too well what his boyhood team was doing to the Nats.

The Cardinals are an excellent team, and in 2018 they had a gaping hole in their defense ranking the worst in the NL which led them to self-reflection and improvement in that part of their game. At the time, this is what Steve Mears said, “Some teams talk about “the little things” and some actually fix them. Actions speak louder than words. The Cardinals look like legitimate contenders even though their starting pitching staff is mediocre.” Mears was right. The Cardinals were legit contenders and they won the NL Central and their manager won the Manager of the Year.

Once again in this game Stephen Strasburg would be thrust into the role of stopper —  and the Cardinals were attempting the rare four-game sweep with righty Dakota Hudson on the mound. Hudson was making his 7th appearance of the season and has an awful 1.92 WHIP and 5.63 ERA. The sinkerballer is a former 34th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Mississippi State. His road ERA is 9.35 and the Nationals should be pouncing today early and often.

For Stephen Strasburg; he was just 8 strikeouts from reaching 1,500 for his career (1,492 SO in 1,267.1 IP) in this game. Per , he is on pace to be the fastest to 1,500 strikeouts (in IP) in MLB history:

  1. Chris Sale (1,290.0)
  2. Kerry Wood (1,303.0)
  3. Pedro Martinez (1,337.0)
  4. Randy Johnson (1,356.2)

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium:  Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

New line-up:

Eaton LF Robles RF Kendrick 3B Adams 1B Gomes C Dozier 2B Difo SS Taylor CF Strasburg RHP

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