Nationals Notebook: Washington finish first week of MLB season strong

By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor

The Washington Nationals officially opened their 2020 season over the past week with sets of interleague matchups against the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. After back-to-back wins, the Nationals hold a 3-4 record in the first stretch of their 60-game season.

Here are the highlights of the past week: 

July 23
New York Yankees: 4
Washington Nationals: 1

Opening the MLB season with their 2020 home opener, all eyes were on the defending champion Nationals as they hosted the Yankees on July 23. Just hours before first pitch, news broke that star left fielder Juan Soto had tested positive for COVID-19, making him indefinitely ineligible to play.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer jumped to a slow start, surrendering a two-run home run in the first inning to Giancarlo Stanton. Scherzer also allowed a run in the third and fifth innings. Rain began to pour in the sixth inning, resulting in the game being called off early, with the Yankees holding on to the win. 

The Nationals’ lone run came from a first-inning solo home run by Adam Eaton.

July 25
New York Yankees: 2
Washington Nationals: 9

After falling short on opening day, the Nationals redeemed themselves. 

Stephen Strasburg, the expected starter for Washington, was a late scratch due to a nerve issue in his right hand. Filling in his shoes was right-hander Erick Fedde, who threw for four innings and surrendered two runs. The Washington bullpen shut down New York, with five scoreless innings of work.

At the plate, Victor Robles and Asdrúbal Cabrera each had three hits, including each collecting a double and a home run. They combined to drive in six runs. 

July 26
New York Yankees: 3
Washington Nationals: 2

In the rubber game of their first series of the season, the Nationals jumped to an early lead with a solo home run by Trae Turner in the third inning and an RBI single by Eric Thames in the fourth. 

The Yankees tied the game in the seventh inning with a pair of solo home runs, before taking the lead on an RBI single by Gleyber Torres in the eighth. 

Nationals starter Patrick Corbin took the no-decision after surrendering one run in 6 1/3 innings.

July 27
Toronto Blue Jays: 4
Washington Nationals: 1

Continuing in their interleague matchups, the Nationals took on the Toronto Blue Jays with Anibal Sanchez on the hill. He surrendered four home runs in five innings, with Teoscar Hernández responsible for two solo shots. 

The lone Nationals run came in the fourth inning off an RBI double by Kurt Suzuki to drive in Thames.

July 28
Toronto Blue Jays: 5
Washington Nationals: 1

Going through their fifth starter in the rotation, Austin Voth threw for five innings, allowing two earned runs on a pair of solo home runs. Reliever Will Harris surrender two runs in the eighth inning on an RBI double by Rowdy Tellez. 

Toronto right-hander Tanner Roark gave up one run in his five innings of work. The Nationals offense was limited to four hits, including two doubles by Turner. 

July 29
Washington Nationals: 4
Toronto Blue Jays: 0

Instead of traveling to Toronto for the remaining slate of games against the Blue Jays, the Nationals played the role of visitors in their home stadium. The Blue Jays did not receive permission to host games in Rogers Centre by the Canadian government, and Sahlen Stadium, the home of Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons in New York, was not ready to hold MLB games.  

In a pitching duel between Max Scherzer and Blue Jays top prospect Nate Pearson, who had been making his Major League debut, the two teams went scoreless through nine innings. 

In the 10th inning, with the new league rule of starting extra innings with a runner on second base, the Nationals offense came to life, capped off by a three-run RBI triple by Cabrera.

Scherzer threw 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the no-decision.

July 30
Washington Nationals: 6
Toronto Blue Jays: 4

Closing out the makeshift four-game series against the Blue Jays, Suzuki put the Nationals on the board early with the third-inning, two-run double. Michael A. Taylor extended the scoring with a two-run home run in the following inning.

Starlin Castro and Carter Kieboom each reached base four times. 

Limited to just 3 1/3 innings of work, Fedde picked up the no-decision after allowing two runs on six hits.

Up Next:

Originally scheduled to play in Miami over the weekend for a three-game series, MLB has postponed their matchup against the Marlines following a COVID-19 outbreak in the team’s clubhouse. Washington will take the next few days off before hosting the New York Mets for a two-game series, beginning on Tuesday.  

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