All of that will have to wait. The Nationals didn’t make the most of their few opportunities at the plate, and the Phillies punished Washington’s bullpen. Philadelphia slugged five home runs, including a pair of three-run shots by old friend Kyle Schwarber, en route to an 11-3 victory. The fourth-place Phillies (27-32) took the series and dropped the Nationals (25-34) two games behind them in last.
“[The Phillies] started swinging the bats,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said. “I thought our starting pitchers pitched pretty well. We just got to stay in the game, finish the game. And we got to hit.”
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The Nationals went a surprising 14-15 in May while being one of baseball’s best teams at the plate. They had the second-best batting average (.275) in the majors, trailing only the American League West-leading Texas Rangers (.286). They also ranked in the top third in runs, on-base percentage and OPS.
In the first game of this series (which came on the first day of June), they chased Zack Wheeler — arguably the Phillies’ top starter — after scoring seven runs in 3⅔ innings on their way to an 8-7 win. Since the middle of that game, though, the Nationals haven’t been able to “extend innings,” as Martinez said after Sunday’s loss. The Phillies’ 4-2 win Saturday ended a five-game skid. The Nationals managed 17 hits between Saturday and Sunday, but they weren’t able to string them together, scoring just five runs.
“We’re not getting anything going as a group,” Martinez said. “We’re still getting hits, but we’re not collectively getting anything going. So we just got to get back to getting on base and stick to hitting our doubles and occasionally we’re going to hit a ball out of the ballpark.”
Trevor Williams kept the Nationals in Sunday’s game but paid for his few mistakes. He allowed a solo homer to J.T. Realmuto in the second inning that carried beyond the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center. He also gave up a fifth-inning solo shot to Drew Ellis that was just inside the left field foul pole.
Williams struck out six, a bit of a surprise given that he came in averaging 6.5 per nine innings. He gave the Phillies a heavy dose of fastballs, then thrived later by getting them to pop up because they were out in front of his breaking pitches.
Between the Phillies’ solo home runs, Washington had one threat to score. Joey Meneses led off the fourth inning with what he later joked was “rare” — the first triple of his major league career, which came on a ball that caromed off the wall in left-center and rolled along the warning track. Two batters later, Stone Garrett hit a sacrifice fly to tie it at 1.
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The Nationals eventually had runners at second and third with two outs, but Riley Adams flied out to center. That was all they managed against Phillies starter Ranger Suárez, who went seven innings for his first win.
Williams allowed a walk and single in the sixth, which forced Martinez to decide whether he would leave him in to face Schwarber for a fourth time or turn to reliever Andrés Machado. Williams had struck out Schwarber twice, but Martinez picked Machado. Schwarber, who knows a thing or two about hitting in this park in June, blasted a three-run homer, and the Nationals trailed 5-1.
Machado allowed three more runs in the seventh, including Ellis’s second home run, to put the game out of reach. The Nationals put two runners on in Suárez’s final inning, but he danced out of danger by getting Lane Thomas to ground into a double play.
Schwarber slugged his second three-run homer of the day in the ninth against Thaddeus Ward. While Ildemaro Vargas hit a two-run shot in the bottom half, the Nationals’ division rivals still cruised to a commanding win.
“Make the adjustment with runners in scoring position,” Meneses said, through a team interpreter, of how the Nationals can get back on track at the plate. “It’s not very easy to drive in runs and get your RBIs. But we just got to focus more on those at-bats and try to get as many runs as we can in.”