Hellish month comes to an end *
After a surprisingly decent 3-3 road trip to the far southwest, the Nats began their current home stand on Friday night, welcoming the St. Louis Cardinals to town. Anibal Sanchez gave up three runs in the third inning, but made it through the next two innings intact. Even though he already had a pitch count in the 90s, for some reason Dave Martinez put him back on the mound in the sixth inning, whereupon he gave up three more runs. The Cardinals won the opener, 6-2, and Sanchez lost his third game in as many starts this year. Saturday's game was a tense back-and-forth affair in which everything hinged upon Josh Bell in the bottom of the seventh inning. With runners on first and second and nobody out, he smashed the ball just over the wall in right center field, giving the Nats a 7-5 lead. The Cardinals rallied with one run in the top of the eighth, and Kyle Finnegan came in to relieve Carl Edwards Jr., putting out the fire and coming back to finish the game in the top of the ninth. His five-out save was a truly heroic accomplishment! Nats 7, Cards 6. On Sunday afternoon, Josiah Gray pitched OK, but a three-run homer by Corey Dickerson gave the visiting team a lead that proved just too big to overcome. In the bottom of the ninth, Tres Barrera singled and Lane Thomas doubled, making it almost a certainty that the Nats would score at least one run. Did they? Nope. It was the Nats' 9th shutout loss of the year, compared to just three shutout victories. (See the annual shutout summary table I compiled on June 2.)
* That was one of the sub-headlines in my August 5, 2021 blog post, when the Nats had a record of 8-18.
And thus, the 2019 World Champion Washington Nationals finished the month at 35-68 (.340), lower than any other team in the majors, with an awful 6-19 record (.240) for the month. But by salvaging some of their dignity with a win over the Cardinals on Saturday, they at least the Nats averted setting an ignominious new team record. Their official worst-ever month remains July 2008, when they went 5-19 (.208) See the newly-updated Washington Nationals page.
This evening, the Nats welcome the NL East-leading New York Mets to Washington, as their former ace pitcher Max Scherzer (6-2, 2.06 ERA) goes against the guy who was supposed to be #1 in their rotation this year: Patrick Corbin (4-14, 6.43 ERA). Given that Corbin could not even complete one inning in his last appearance, it is hard to imagine a more unbalanced matchup. On Tuesday, the Mets' ace Jacob deGrom, who was placed on the injured list just before the season began, will mark his 2022 debut, with some rookie named Abbott pitching for the Nats. And on Wednesday afternoon, the Nets' Chris Bassitt (7-7) faces Anibal Sanchez (0-3). It would take a "minor miracle for the Nationals to win even one of the games"... Right?
Since the trade deadline is tomorrow at 6:00 PM, tonight may be Juan Soto's final game in a Washington Nationals uniform. I trust General Manager Mike Rizzo to make a good deal, and if he gets a good enough offer from one of the likely other teams (Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals), I will reconcile myself to Soto's departure. I still hope he stays in Washington (who wouldn't?), but chances are he will get traded away. Likewise for Josh Bell, who should have made this year's All-Star Game. I just hope to Nats don't trade away Kyle Finnegan or Andres Machado, their two most reliable relief pitchers.