It was a nailbiter from start to finish for the Washington Nationals. A team that had lost 5 straight games with most of those games blown in the bullpen. After two straight games of Brad Hand getting blown-save losses, he had a hi-lev save tonight after the first batter reached on an error by Carter Kieboom which forced Hand to retire J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Andrew McCutchen for the save in this 6-4 game. It was McCutchen last night who walked-off on Hand with a 3-run home run in a similar situation.
There was early drama when All-Star , Trea Turner, was removed in the first inning of this game against due to a positive COVID-19 test, the team announced — but at the time, we did not know what had happened. Twitter went into a frenzy with rumors he had been traded. Our photographer on the scene said he just didn’t look good and thought he was ill. Even Turner’s teammates were stunned and thought that he could have been traded. Starting pitcher Erick Fedde was one of those players looking around for an answer and thought a trade was a possibility.
“There’s lots of rumors flying around,” Fedde said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, dang, what happened?’ “
After Fedde struggled following an unfortunate inside-the-park home run by Harper on a misplay by Victor Robles, with Soto late to back him up as the ball caromed far away, it was Fedde who went into implode mode. We have seen this before, and manager Dave Martinez was not going to allow it this time. He went quick hook.
Even as over-used as Kyle Finnegan, Daniel Hudson, and Hand have been lately out of the bullpen, Martinez pulled Fedde with 2-outs in the 5th inning and went to Sam Clay and Wander Suero out of the bullpen to get it to Finnegan for the 8th and Hand for the 9th. The bullpen threw a 4 1/3 inning shutout.
With Turner out for a while, the Nats might also have to place Robles on the IL after he hurt his oblique swinging. He was removed from the game.
With skepticism by MASN color analyst F.P. Santangelo when he said in the 5th inning that 6 runs wouldn’t be enough to win this game, it turned out that on this night, it was enough. Just enough with plenty of stress.