Like '19, reigning WS champ Nats fall to 19-31

September 20th, 2020

The record 19-31 is etched in Nationals history as a representation of triumph and victory, the point from which they began their historic World Series comeback last year.

But when the team began a condensed 60-game schedule this season, the consensus was it was trying to repeat as champion, not with that start.

“We can’t really do the whole ‘19-31 thing’ and make it a story again,” said on July 14.

Washington fell to that familiar mark on Saturday night with a 7-3 loss to Miami at Marlins Park.

“Just so you know, I really don’t like that number,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It worked out last year, but I’d rather be 31-19.”

Facing the Marlins for the third contest of a five-game weekend series, Martinez replicated the lineup from Friday’s 5-0 victory in Game 1 of the doubleheader. His thought was, “It worked yesterday, see if it works today.” The only change on the Nats' side was southpaw starting instead of , but the outcomes were very different.

Corbin allowed a season-high seven runs off a career-high 14 hits, including two homers. His seven strikeouts over 93 pitches were overshadowed by the Marlins' effectiveness at the plate.

“One of those days, wasn’t very good,” Corbin said. “They came out swinging. They didn’t miss any of my mistakes.”

Added Martinez: “For me, uncharacteristic. He threw a lot of balls over the middle of the plate -- that’s what I saw. His location was not what it typically is. When you do that, you’re going to get hit.”

The Nationals couldn’t get much run support going to help close the gap. After a team-wide offensive display in Friday's doubleheader, only , , and got at least one hit on Saturday.

“[When] these guys are throwing 94, 95 [mph] and have those changeups like that, it’s tough,” Martinez said. “But you can’t miss your pitches. I think that happened a lot today where we got a pitch to hit and we missed it.”

When the Nats dropped to 19-31 with a loss to the Mets on May 23, 2019, there still were 112 games remaining in the regular season -- plenty of time to shake up the standings. After Saturday’s defeat, there are only 10 games left, and the Nats are 5.5 back from a National League Wild Card spot.

“We’ve got to keep battling,” Martinez said. “We’re going to keep it going here for the next 10 games, or whatever it is, and just try to go 1-0 tomorrow.”

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The Nationals will wrap up the series in Miami with a doubleheader on Sunday and return home to host the Phillies and Mets to close out the regular season. They will look to leave their 19-31 record behind them on the road. It’s not a memento they want to carry with them this year.

“It’s definitely frustrating how we’ve played so far this season,” Corbin said. “I know guys have been working their butts off to try to go out there, win games and go out and compete every day. It’s been a tough season, I think, for everybody.”