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Nats’ Series Recap: New York Yankees (7/23-7/26)

Game 1:
New York 4    Washington 1     Final/6

Win: G. Cole (1-0) Loss: M. Scherzer (0-1)

A torrential downpour in the nation’s capital at the top of the sixth inning leading to a delay that lasted 1 hour, 58 minutes greeted the return of baseball. The delay lasted longer than the actual game on Thursday night. After the prolonged delay the result was affirmed as the contest was called, which saw the Yankees take the first game of the series.

The expected storylines were hijacked by the unexpected news of Juan Soto’s positive coronavirus test, coming hours before Dr. Fauci threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2020 season. Despite the absence of fans, the circumstance of the game itself and the unveiling of the Nat’s championship banners were enough to suggest there would be an electric atmosphere at Nationals Park. This was not the case, as it was evident the team was still reeling with the news that arguably their best player would be sidelined indefinitely. Andrew Stevenson ended up replaced Juan Soto in left field.

While Nats’ fans will want to put an asterisk next to this result, the loss will still apply and rightfully so. The Yankees showcased their top to bottom talent in a seemingly effortless return to competitive baseball.

Gerrit Cole made his much-anticipated debut in pinstripes, and he did not disappoint. Cole ended the night after 5 innings, 5 K, and only one earned run. That run came off the only hit of the night – Adam Eaton displayed the only instance of Nats’ offense in the first inning on a solo home run. After giving up the homer Cole settled into the game, giving no quarter to the Nationals’ lineup for the rest of the evening.

Before the Soto news, the biggest baseball talking point of the opening game was the pitching matchup of Scherzer and Cole. While Scherzer recorded a gaudy 11 K, he also gave up some crucial hits to the Yankees’ talented bats. Giancarlo Stanton started his season off with a towering 459 foot, 2 run homer in the first inning. Aaron Judge then followed with a RBI double in the 3rd. Stanton then put the exclamation point on the game with a RBI single in the 5th.

It is not unusual for Scherzer to give up an early home run but from that point on he never looked totally comfortable on the hill. To be fair, that Yankees’ lineup wont allow many pitchers to get into their comfort zone. Mad Max was missing his usual side-to-side control, most likely a sign of the unorthodox circumstances of the season, and preseason for that matter.

The score was 4-1 going into the 6th inning when a muggy summer evening in DC turned into a biblical downpour, leading to a nearly 2 hour delay and the subsequent abandonment.

 

Game 2:
New York 2    Washington 9     Final/9

Win: Tanner Rainey (1-0) Loss: J. Paxton (0-1)

Following the shortened action on Thursday, the Nationals returned Saturday afternoon to a sunny Nationals Park with offense on their mind. After only registering one hit on Gerrit Cole the Nats proceeded to reel off 4 consecutive hits off James Paxton in the 2nd inning. The culmination of these was a two run double from the bat of Victor Robles giving the Nationals an early 3-0 lead.

This contribution was not an isolated incident for Robles as he also hit a 2 run home run in the 4th. With the harsh realities of Juan Soto’s absence setting in, Robles responded by generating offense and energy in the Nationals’ lineup. Robles ended the day with 3 hits and 4 RBI to go along with that home run.

Along with Robles, both Asdrudal Cabrera and Michael A. Taylor, who replaced Soto in left field, homered on the afternoon.

The National’s 2nd inning rally deflated the otherwise dynamic Yankees. Following the four consecutive hits, Paxton walked Michael A. Taylor, ending his afternoon having only thrown 41 pitches.

While the Yankees had very few bright spots on Saturday Giancarlo Stanton built off his performance on Thursday with another booming home run, to the dismay of Erik Fedde. At the top of the 4th Stanton unleashed a 483 foot homer with an exit velocity of 121.3 MPH. Outdoing his 459 foot home run just two days prior.

Fedde was asked to replace the original starter, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, due to nerve issues in his right hand. Apparently Fedde had been told to prepare to start days earlier in case Strasburg was unavailable. Despite giving up 2 runs in 4 innings Fedde stepped in admirably and was undoubtedly helped by the National’s consistent offense.

 

Game 3:
New York 3    Washington 2     Final/9

Win: C. Green (1-0) Loss: S. Doolittle (0-1) SV: Z. Britton

The series finale proved to be a cagey affair compared to the previous outings. A fitting end to a series that pitted the reigning World Series champs against the club most predict will follow with a championship of their own.

Patrick Corbin took to the mound for his first meaningful baseball since his Game 7 World Series win back in October. Corbin proved to be the most consistent of the two starters as Jonathan Loaisiga only put in 3 innings of work before Aaron Boone pulled him in favor David Hale. Corbin contributed 6.1 innings, giving away 2 hits, 1 earned run, and registering 8 K.

The Nationals’ offense seemed to pick up right where it left off on Saturday, scoring 2 runs in the first 4 innings. In what would be the best news for Nats’ fans: Trea Turner recorded his first hit of the young season – hitting a home run off Loaisiga in the bottom of the 3rd. The lead off man then embraced Kurt Suzuki in the dugout, in spite of social distancing protocol. Eric Thames added to the lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the 4th. The Nats held a 2-0 advantage into the 7th inning.

Boone’s Bombers came to life in the 7th as they cut the deficit to one run as Gleyber Torres hit a solo home run, resulting in Davey Martinez ending Corbin’s night. Shortly after the change to Will Harris, Voit followed up with another solo home run, bringing the Yankees level.Torres again played hero in the 8th when he singled to center field, sending Hicks home.

After seeing their lead evaporate, the Nats’ were presented a golden opportunity in the bottom of the 9th as a controversial call at first base swung in Washington’s favor with Cabrera narrowly reaching the bag in time. Bonifacio was put on as pinch runner with Victor Robles next in the order. Robles battled Britton to a full count, with the payoff pitch resulting in a ball and a Gary Sanchez throw to third which caught out Bonifacio, whose momentum kept him from fully securing the bag. In what would prove the end of a potential rally, the deflating nature of the play set the Nationals up for their second loss in the young season. The Yankees go into DC and secure a very deserved 2 wins in the series. This will be the only regular season series between the two clubs.

UP NEXT:

Yankees: The Yankees head to Philly where they continue their NL East tour. Game 1 is Monday, July 27th at 7:05.

Nationals: The Nats dust themselves off and begin their home-stand against the currently homeless Blue Jays on Monday at 6:05.

 

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