Game #37 16 games in 16 days concludes a team defining stretch!

If the Washington Nationals win today, it will feel like a “Sweet 16” as the Nats would complete a tough stretch of 16-games in 16-days with a winning record (9-7), and hop on a very “happy flight” back to Washington, D.C. If only they had Brian Dozier singing Calma on the plane ride, but maybe Victor Robles can do his rendition of the song. This team is so close to be legitimately good. Right now, they just are not taking advantage enough of the good starting pitching they are getting.

The Nats had their chances last night with 11 failed RISP opportunities, and 10 runners stranded on-base. Good teams find ways to win consistently, and the Nats just are not doing it consistently as they are still young and learning how to win — and honestly, short-handed by a need for some better players. They must play mistake-free baseball, and make some of the harder plays. You saw Giants’ second baseman, Thairo Estrada, dive and rob the Nationals twice on defense last night and save runs. Baseball’s clutch ledger works on both offense and defense. Runs created and defensive runs saved are a key to winning in this game.

“We had traffic all day. We couldn’t get that big hit,” manager Davey Martinez said. “[Webb] got tough. Guys were on-base, he threw some really good changeups, mixed in his two-seamer. He got really tough with guys on-base.”

— manager Dave Martinez on last night

In this rubber game of the 3-game series with the Giants, the Nats will face another lefty starter. This time it is Sean Manaea facing the Nats. Don’t expect a start for Jake Alu against the lefty. Alu went o-4 last night with 3 Ks and stranded five baserunners in a tough MLB debut. On the other side, the Giants called up the younger Casey Schmitt and he went 2-4 with a booming home run to deep center field.

The Nats will pin their hopes on Josiah Gray in this San Francisco finale. He has been pitching like the Nats’ ace, and the team needs an ace performance from their righty today.

The Nats starters ERAs are a combined 4.44, and Patrick Corbin got his ERA under 5.00 last night and trending in the right direction in five past starts. Corbin gutted through a rocky start with more question defense, and he took a 99.8 mph comebacker off of his wrist on his pitching hand that then rebounded off of his left cheek. He might have a bruise with seam marks.

Here is how they rank:

No. 6 Starter: Jake Irvin 0.84 ERA
No. 5 Starter: Chad Kuhl 9.41
No. 4 Starter: Patrick Corbin 4.87
No. 3 Starter: Trevor Williams 4.25
No. 2 Starter: MacKenzie Gore 3.65
No. 1 Starter: Josiah Gray 3.03

The pitching is still looking good, and the “A” bullpen got another day-off last night. It seems like Mason Thompson has been relegated to a spot as a “B” bullpen guy for now. What a shame. He was the best the Nats had for the first four weeks of the season. He has now pitched as many innings this season as starter Chad Kuhl, and almost six more innings than Erasmo Ramirez who has thrown 16 2/3 so far and ranks second in bullpen innings. The bullpen management has been awful.

Here is your Baseball Savant Statcast link for the game.

Washington National vs. San Francisco Giants

Stadium: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
1st Pitch: 3:45 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

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