Nationals Notebook: Finishing with a flourish

It’s nice to win the series finale. Nothing beats a nice plane ride to the next city when you’re on the road. I’m sure the peanuts taste better and the tray table goes up easier.

The Washington Nationals may be 18-31 and in last place of the NL East, but they’re 7-7 in series finales-including four straight. The first three were sweep-averting wins, which is nice until you realize they lost the first two games of each of those series.

But Sunday’s 6-5 win over Colorado wrapped up their first series victory at home this season (they’ve won two series on the road). And while they face the division-leading New York Mets to start the week, sub-. 500 clubs Cincinnati and Miami await.

At the Memorial Day mark of the season, they’re 18-31. Sound familiar?

Help is on the Way — Stephen Strasburg made a pair of rehabilitation starts at class A Fredericksburg, tossing 61 pitches Tuesday and struck out six over five scoreless innings. Meanwhile, Joe Ross’ path back to Washington deals with a roadblock as his rehab start in Harrisburg was truncated due to a ligament sprain in his elbow. The return of one or both of their injured starters can’t come soon enough as opponents have had their cracks at essentially the number six and seven starting pitchers in the rotation this season.

Digesting the Division — The New York Mets (32-17) remain in front by a country mile as the other four teams are all under .500. Second place Atlanta (23-25) can still rest on the fact that they enjoyed a late-season kick last year, while Philadelphia (21-27) and Miami (19-26) are being betrayed by their inability to win the nail-biters: each has a positive run differential but also a losing record in one-run games (Phillies are 3-9 and the Marlins are 6-14). The Nationals (18-31) continue to bring up the rear.

O’s Woes — The last-place Birds (20-29) get one more shot at fourth-place Boston Monday night after slipping Sunday 12-2 at Fenway Park. Watch for Anthony Santander (. 333 with eight RBI in six games against the Red Sox) in the series finale. After 15 straight games against AL East foes, the Orioles will get 12 games outside the division.

Last Week’s Heroes — Nelson Cruz hit .423 with six RBI while Dee Strange-Gordon batted .462 and Victor Robles’ bat woke up to the tune of .412 with seven RBI and his first homer of the season. Patrick Corbin notched his first win of the year while Erick Fedde tossed six scoreless innings a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Relievers Carl Edwards Jr. (4.2 scoreless innings over four outings) and Steve Cishek (3.0 over three) shined out of the bullpen.

Last Week’s Humbled — Aaron Sanchez’s stay in DC ended when he allowed seven runs over 3.2 innings in his start ( never did give him a Nationals cap in his photo on his player page). Andres Machado and Austin Voth posted double-digit ERAs out of the bullpen. Yadiel Hernandez hit .200, Miekell Franco batted .182, and Lane Thomas went 1-for-19 at the plate.

Game to Watch — Patrick Corbin may be 1-7 with an ERA of 6.30, but the lefthander is coming off of his first win of 2022 and has pitched quite a bit better this month (4.75 ERA in May after an 8.69 April ERA). Tuesday the Nats wrap up the month by facing the New York Mets, and it’s not Scherzer or deGrom they’ll be facing but Trevor Williams (0-3, 4.37 ERA).

Game to Miss — Some games are for no one. Saturday the Nationals are in Cincinnati and the mound matchup has Josiah Gray facing the Reds’ Tyler Mahle (2-5, 6.32 ERA) who has been allowing hits here, there, and everywhere. And while Gray’s been getting better in 2022 (he’s no fool on the hill), you won’t see me catching this game. Even if the Nats win the night before, it’s just another day. I’ve got a feeling I can find something else of interest to pass the time. I will.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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