Nightcap notables: Rodriguez, Robles

June 13th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- The second game of a split doubleheader in which both teams were held scoreless through seven innings of regulation ended in a quick burst of runs, missed opportunities and causes for pause in the Nationals’ 2-1 extra-inning loss to the Giants on Saturday.

Here are three things to take from the eight-inning evening matchup at Nationals Park.

Strong starting pitching

’s experiences on the Nationals came full circle on Saturday night. When the 27-year-old right-hander got the nod to start Game 2, he pitched to catcher Yan Gomes, for whom he was traded from the Nats to the Indians for in 2018.

Making his first Major League start since 2019, Rodriguez threw four scoreless innings with one hit, three walks and two strikeouts off 60 pitches (32 strikes, one wild pitch). He reached 96.4 mph on his four-seam fastball, which he threw for 50% of his pitches.

“His ball was electric tonight, it really was,” manager Dave Martinez said. “What I’d like to see for him is location. ... He fell behind a little bit, but he came back and was able to throw a strike when he needed to.”

After winning Game 1 behind Erick Fedde's five strong innings, the shorthanded Nationals were in need of a starter for their evening matchup, and Rodriguez got the call from Rochester. In his first six games (five starts) with the Red Wings, he posted a 1-0 record with a 7.56 ERA, 19 strikeouts, 13 walks and one home run allowed over 16 2/3 innings. Rodriguez originally signed with the Nats in January 2012 as a free agent.

“It felt great that the team showed they still had confidence in me,” Rodriguez said. “I was trying to prove them right and do the best I can out there.”

Late-game baserunning

The Nationals found themselves playing catchup in the bottom of the eighth after the Giants put two runs on the board in the top of the inning. Starlin Castro drove in Yan Gomes (the automatic runner on second) to cut the deficit to one, and took first base after being hit by a pitch.

But when Josh Bell flied out to center field to advance Castro to third, Robles also tried to tag up to second. Instead, he slid past the base and was tagged for a critical second out.

“The thought process that ran through my mind was, I know I was the winning run on the bases,” Robles said. “As soon as the fly ball went up, I wanted to make sure I tried to put myself in a position to score. When I saw my teammate tagging up, I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to do the same and try to make it a little better for either Trea Turner or Juan Soto to deliver a base hit and score the runs.”

Martinez planned to talk with Robles on Sunday about situational baserunning decision making -- “I’m not going to sit there and blow him up about him going,” Martinez said -- to prevent similar miscues in the future.

“That’s not a very smart decision,” Martinez said. “We had the top of the order coming up, a man on first and third. You just let the game play out. You see the ball coming, you tag up, you see the ball, you see that the throw’s going to be really close, you just come back and let those guys get a chance to hit.”

Quiet bats all day

The Nationals scored a total of three runs off just eight hits in Saturday’s doubleheader. In Game 2, they hit 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left four on base. Martinez is looking for the offense to pick up, but not at the expense of being too eager at the plate.

“Here we are again talking about these guys trying to push the envelope because we’re not swinging the bat,” Martinez said. “That’s the bottom line -- we’re not scoring any runs. These guys are playing hard. They’re trying too much to do something that we shouldn’t really be doing. We’ve just got to relax and play the game.”