The Nationals only mustered three hits Sunday as they could not pick up the series sweep of the Twins after taking the first two. The 6-foot-9 Bailey Ober, promoted by Minnesota this morning, went 5 1/3 solid innings for the Twins.
Washington did however get on the board early off Ober, plating their only run of the day in the top of the first. Jeimer Candelario and Luis Garcia both walked to bring up Keibert Ruiz with two outs, and Ruiz lofted an RBI double down the left-field line to put the Nats up 1-0. With two in scoring position, however, Dominic Smith struck out to retire the side.
In hindsight, the Nats had Ober at a pitch count of 28 in the first inning and on the ropes, in what would be their best opportunity as it would turn out in this game. Smith’s strikeout let him off with the only run that he and his team would surrender on this day.
Patrick Corbin was scoreless through three innings on the mound for Washington, though served up a pair of solo shots from Jorge Polanco and Michael A. Taylor in the fourth inning. In the following inning, a one-out walk of Jose Miranda was followed up by a pair of singles, including an RBI single from Polanco to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead. There was some drama because Victor Robles could have ended the inning and got a bad read on what seemed to be a routine flyball that turned into a single that extended the inning and led to a Polanco RBI single. Corbin seemed noticeably upset on the mound per the comments from the MASN crew calling the game.
An overall solid day for Corbin, however, who finished going six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. It’s Corbin’s second straight quality start. Erasmo Ramirez worked around two hits for a scoreless seventh and Anthony Banda faced the minimum in the eighth for the Nats out of the bullpen with the help of a tailor-made double play to erase his dreaded lead-off walk.
CJ Abrams in the fifth inning led off with a single, and the next batter was Robles who bunted a ball that went a few inches in front of the plate.
For what it’s worth, Robles played ‘umpire,’ per his manager, and did not run right away thinking that the bunt was a foul ball so Twins catcher, Ryan Jeffers, turned the front end of a gifted 2-6-3 double play.
“You can’t assume it’s a foul ball. He’s just got to run. I don’t know how many times I’ve got to tell him. He’s not an umpire. He’s got to run hard to first base.”~ Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez
Of course the next batter, Alex Call, promptly singled with the bases empty. Call then quickly erased himself as he was picked off to end an excruciating inning. Two hits in that inning — and no runs scored and no runners left on base.
After the game, the Nats’ manager admitted he called for Robles to bunt because of his issues against the slider. It turned out Ober started Robles out with a slider. To makes matters worse, Robles, as we’ve seen before, bunted at a ball so far off the plate that he had to lunge into the left-handed batter’s box to connect with the ball.
Robles did have a highlight reel moment with a big assist from Garcia after an attempted steal turned bad because the batter hit the ball to center field, it was Garcia who deked the runner as Robles simultaneously caught a flyball and heaved a throw of over 275 feet on a strike to first base to double off the runner.
Was Robles even on this day on baseball’s cash register? That seems to be his M.O. where he will make a great defensive play, but really botch a play or two, on the other side of the ledger. On this day, his ledger finished in the red.
“I got confused myself. I just assumed it was a foul ball.”— Robles said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez to the media
Nats have an off-day Monday before taking on the Mets in a three-game weekday series.
Tuesday @ 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Josiah Gray vs. TBD
Thursday @ 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Trevor Williams vs. LHP Joey Lucchessi