Game #44 is a salvage game in Miami!

Instead of going for a series win or even a series sweep, the Nats now have two one-run losses in this series in Miami, and now are playing for a salvage win today to avoid getting swept. All of that momentum from Monday’s win against the Mets could not be carried over.

Since CJ Abrams was publicly shamed by some in the media on Monday for forgetting how many outs there were in an inning in that game, he now looks lost at the plate. The Nats won big in that game against the Mets, and Abrams was a star of that series. His smiles that we were used to seeing in the dugout have been replaced by an emptiness. After he was a blistering hot 6-for-12 with two home runs heading into the Miami series — he has gone ice cold 0-for-7 with SIX strikeouts. “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” per Yogi Berra. If you let bad stuff creep into your head, it is tough to get it out a hitting coach once said. Look, it wasn’t like Abrams ever forgot how many outs there were before. First time offenders shouldn’t get piled up on especially since his mistake might not have even resulted in an extra out, and the Nats won the game.

With Joey Meneses on the paternity list after the birth of his son Joseph yesterday, the team recalled Jake Alu to the roster to temporarily fill-in. Corey Dickerson was inserted in the lineup as the DH in Meneses’ place, and he came up huge last night with a booming 2-run home run and a key late inning hit off of a lefty reliever. Ildemaro Vargas was penciled in as the left fielder, and he notched two hits himself last night.

Jeimer Candelario was the hottest hitter in last night’s game with three hits that included a double. Unfortunately the Nats rolled into three double plays and one of them ended the game. The Nats only had five RISP chances and came up empty each time, and they had no stolen base attempts and did not even insert a pinch-runner late in the game to put more speed on the bases when they had runners on-base.

Starter MacKenzie Gore was once again left on the mound too long and the difference in the game scored in his final inning as the suddenly blistering Jorge Soler kind of singlehandedly beat the Nats again. But the Nats let it happen.

In the fourth inning, Marlins’ shortstop, Jon Berti, was shifted as close to second base as the rules allow and he made all three outs in that inning on grounders up the middle, and even one grounder he adeptly fielded on the second base side of the bag, stranding Candelario at second base who had doubled in the inning. If any of those balls made it through, Candelario probably scores. It was that type of night of hitting into bad luck plus some of the ugliest strikeouts you will ever see with Abrams seemingly swinging with his eyes closed. Miami just seems to have the Nats scouted so well. Unfortunately, the Nats don’t seem to have the Marlins scouted well.

“His location was a little bit off, but his stuff is good. He couldn’t get his breaking balls over quite as much as he normally does. Slider wasn’t there tonight. He left a couple of balls out over the plate, and they took advantage of it.”

— manager Dave Martinez on MacKenzie Gore

You read Martinez’s comments and you have to wonder why he left his starter in the game to face the top of the Marlins’ order in the sixth inning. In the end, the bullpen had to come in with trouble on the bases and only one out. A clean inning and no outs would have been fine — or you have Gore just to face the lefty, Luis Arraez, then you pull him, and let Andres Machado go righty/righty on Soler and Bryan De La Cruz. That at least has some tactician purpose to it. Runs are at a premium and Gore walked Soler on five pitches and gave up a booming RBI double to De La Cruz that turned out to be the game-winning hit.

Today’s afternoon matchup has the Nats with Trevor Williams and the Marlins countering with top prospect Eury Perez who made his MLB debut over the weekend for the Fish. The 6’8″ 220 pound Perez is an imposing figure on the mound. Expect Martinez to stack in some lefty bats today to face him.

The Nats starters ERAs are a combined 4.36, and by the way, before yesterday, the Nats were the 14th best in starter’s ERA in all of MLB. Today they are just 0.13 from being the 13th best starting staff in baseball.

Here is how they rank:

No. 5 Starter: Jake Irvin 4.11 ERA
No. 4 Starter: Patrick Corbin 4.65
No. 3 Starter: Trevor Williams 4.23
No. 2 Starter: MacKenzie Gore 3.69
No. 1 Starter: Josiah Gray 2.73

After this game, the Nats hop on a plane to go back to Washington, D.C. for a weekend series starting tomorrow against the Detroit Tigers.

Here is your Baseball Savant Statcast link for the game.

Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins

Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 1:10 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

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