Game #52 The Nats bats came alive last night in a KC masterpiece!

The Washington Nationals authored a KC masterpiece with a relentless offensive explosion last night scoring 12-runs, and led by a 6-for-6 performance by Luis Garcia. All of a sudden, he is batting .288, and he tied Anthony Rendon for the only Nat with 6-hits in a game. Rendon did that back on April 30, 2017.

Unfortunately, the Nats 9-3 lead was not the laugher it was supposed to be with a scare in the 7th inning. Starter Patrick Corbin came out for that inning after a shaky 6th inning in which he gave up a run, and a pitch count of 92. It appeared he was done with a Quality Start, but there he was for the 7th and he put three runners on-base with no outs before he retired his first out and was pulled.

In the pre-game yesterday, I wrote, “There is no telling how manager Dave Martinez will set up his bullpen for tonight. The hope, of course, is that Corbin can be effective and pitch efficient, and go deep in this game.” Well, Corbin checked all of those boxes through six innings. Erasmo Ramirez was the first reliever in, and not only did he allow all three of Corbin’s inherited runners to score, he allowed two more to score, turning that 9-3 lead into a tight 9-8 game. Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. put out the fire, only to start his own in the following inning, but fortunately the Nats scored three more runs in the top of the 8th inning to make the score 12-8 for some extra breathing room for him. Edwards ate two earnies, and was relieved by Chad Kuhl. Yes, he was going to go for his first save while covering the final 1 2/3 innings in a tight game.

Kuhl set the Royals down 1-2-3 in the 9th inning for his first career save. What a moment. Let’s face it, he has endured a lot in his personal life with his wife’s cancer, and in his job, Kuhl had a rough ledger as a starting pitcher for the Nats — that on this day he saved the bullpen and a win for his team in a 12-10 thriller. Kuhl’s 9.41 ERA as a starter in five appearances was an issue, and after a return from the 15-day IL, he was assigned to the bullpen. Maybe he has found his niche.

Getting back to the star of the night, Garcia (23 years, 10 days) became the second-youngest player in MLB history to record six hits in a 9.0-inning game behind San Francisco’s Jesús Alou (22 years, 108 days) who accomplished his six hit feat on July 10, 1964 at Wrigley Field.

On the bullpen usage, Martinez said that he only used the relievers last night that were available. Interestingly, he used his two best relievers, Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan three games in a row from May 2 – May 4, but last night the pair were not available this time for three consecutive games. But why wasn’t Thaddeus Ward available as he only pitched 13 pitches in a week? He was probably available and was not trusted to go two games in a row. But there was a six-run lead going into the 7th inning. The only time Ward pitched two consecutive days he got two outs giving up a run due to four walks in an inning. If you cannot trust Ward to hold a six-run lead while facing the bottom of the Royals order, you have to reconsider why you are keeping this Rule-5 player on your roster. What message does that send to Ward and the rest of the team?

“We used all the guys we thought would be available [on Friday].”

— manager Dave Martinez said last night regarding his bullpen

The Nats starters have a combined ERA of 4.51 for 16th best in MLB after Corbin ate six earnies last night, and took one for his team.

Here is how they rank:

No. 5 Starter: Jake Irvin 5.32 ERA
No. 4 Starter: Patrick Corbin 4.88
No. 3 Starter: Trevor Williams 4.32
No. 2 Starter: MacKenzie Gore 3.88
No. 1 Starter: Josiah Gray 2.65

The Nats start Josiah Gray in this Saturday afternoon game, and he faces Brady Singer. Gray has made it onto several top starting pitchers rankings, and he and MacKenzie Gore were on the best pitchers list on MLB Network for aged 25-and-under.

Here is your Baseball Savant Statcast link for the game.

Washington National vs. Kansas City Royals

Stadium: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
1st Pitch: 4:10 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

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