It will be a happy flight on the Washington Nationals’ Delta charter from Los Angeles back to Washington, D.C. after the Nats put an end to their 3-game losing streak in dramatic fashion in Dodger Stadium this afternoon. This time a blown save, the team’s twelfth on the season, did not end up in a loss. The way this team keeps battling back is impressive — it is finishing off teams that has been the problem. We all know that it is not a squad with a superstar player any more, but they are a team that picks up each other and believes in each other, and fights to the end.
This game quickly opened in the bottom of the first inning with a 3-0 deficit as Patrick Corbin entered the game missing his spots and got in quick trouble. The Nats got back into the game with a pair of homers from Keibert Ruiz and CJ Abrams, and a single from Jeimer Candelario to tie the game. But as Corbin seemingly righted his ship, he started to unravel after a Luis Garcia fielding error that turned into a 4-3 Dodgers’ advantage. The Nats got their first lead of the game after a Candelario two-run homer — the team’s third on the day, which at the time set a season’s high for homers in a game. But that 5-4 thin lead was blown in the bullpen in the seventh inning. Well, the Nats came back again, and this time with a 2-out three-run homer by Garcia who more than made up for his fielding error from earlier.
“We came with a good atmosphere today. The guys wanted to have a happy fight. We’re going to D.C. It’s a long flight. You don’t want to lose that game and then that long flight.”— Candelario said to the media after the game
As the game headed into the bottom of the eighth inning to face the top of the Dodgers order, that 8-5 lead would get tested right away with a lead-off home run by Mookie Betts. Enter the hard throwing reliever, Hunter Harvey, who would come in from the bullpen and get the final six outs without allowing a run for his third career save. Did we mention that Ruiz hit his second home run of the game in the top of the ninth inning to make the margin four runs in a 10-6 game?
It was part of the odd managing in this game as to why manager Dave Martinez did not relieve for Harvey once the Nats ratcheted the lead to four runs with three outs to go. Instead, Harvey stayed in and labored to his highest pitch count of the season with 34. His previous high was 31 back on April 14, and that is when Harvey went M.I.A. and was not seen for one full week afterwards when he returned on April 21.
“He had one more pitch. He had 35 pitches. But he came out there and threw the ball really well.”— manager Dave Martinez on Hunter Harvey’s pitch count
In all, the Nats blasted five home runs, and Ruiz victimized his old team that traded him to the Nats for three home runs in less than 24 hours. Daniel Murphy knows all too well what you are supposed to do to a team that lets you go.
After three disappointing losses, this win made it a 3-3 the road trip, and that is good because the way this game started — it looked like it was going to be a 2-4 road trip. The Nats came back multiple times in this game to seal this victory. It was a signature win against a Dodgers team that expects to win each time they take the field. The stadium had a huge no-show crowd today and they did not hide their displeasure. Even the sparse crowd announced at 36,552 found a way to boo loudly once again in this series.
The five home runs by the Nats today were a season high, and the team did not hit their fifth home run of the season until their ninth game and the 311th plate appearance — and it took the thin air of Colorado to get them to that number.
While the Nats only had 15 homers by the end of April, they are now finding their power stroke with 29 homers in the month of May and nearly doubling their total. But it isn’t from the names you would expect like Joey Meneses and Dom Smith who have three combined. Rather it is Lane Thomas (8) as the team’s home run leader with Candelario right behind him and followed by Ruiz and Abrams.
With the Nats win today, they move to 24-32 on the season, and on a 69 win pace ahead of a tough schedule. For now, enjoy your happy flight back to D.C.