“Simply so you realize, I actually don’t like that quantity,” Supervisor Dave Martinez mentioned. “It labored out final yr, however I’d relatively be 31-19.”
So it’s not possible to have a look at that document — at 19-31 — with out trying again. The numbers don’t imply a lot on their very own. Carter Kieboom entered this recreation with 19 hits. Trea Turner had 13 doubles, Juan Soto had 11 and Kurt Suzuki had seven, totaling 31. There are sufficient stats in baseball to make patterns out of nothing. It’s a sport of limitless rabbit holes.
However put them subsequent to one another, put them in that order — 19-31 — and it means one thing in Washington. It all the time will. That’s what the Nationals noticed within the standings Might 24, 2019. What occurred subsequent, throughout 5 months, was them going from very, very unhealthy to very, superb, all within the context of peeling their backs off the wall. Then they gained the World Sequence, carving 19-31 into lore.
In 2019, a traditional yr, the primary 50 video games might nonetheless be an aberration, a springboard, the beginning of a run that doesn’t cease. In 2020, although, these first 50 video games outline you. That’s the character of this beast.
“We all know it’s going to be a brief season,” catcher Yan Gomes mentioned in mid-July, lengthy earlier than the Nationals started a sluggish slide into winter. “And we will’t actually do the entire 19-31 and make it a narrative once more.”
It’s a special story now, requiring extra context than most Septembers. The Nationals are near being mathematically eradicated from an expanded playoff discipline. With a doubleheader Sunday, they’ve two extra possibilities to play spoiler in opposition to the second-place Marlins. They’re limping to the end with out Stephen Strasburg, Adam Eaton, Starlin Castro and Sean Doolittle, and so they even have Howie Kendrick and Tanner Rainey, amongst others, on the injured listing.
There are causes to throw out this summer season, wipe the slate, deal with subsequent yr because the true likelihood to repeat below the same old circumstances. However the Nationals have additionally underachieved as a result of, effectively, they’ve underachieved. The offense has been unbalanced. The bullpen, as soon as a relative power, was overworked and, as of late, held again by nearer Daniel Hudson. And the rotation has not been the anticipated spine.
On the backside, Austin Voth lately accomplished 5 innings for the primary time in 5 weeks. His ERA is 7.17 in 37⅔ innings. Aníbal Sánchez’s is increased at 7.38 in 42⅔ . However the high has struggled, too, with Max Scherzer and Corbin lapsing in conditions that sometimes go their approach.
“It’s undoubtedly irritating how we’ve performed up to now this season,” Corbin mentioned. “I do know guys have been working their butts off to attempt to go on the market and win video games.”
When Corbin goes effectively, a younger lineup just like the Marlins’ has a very powerful job. Corbin units up his slider with pinpoint sinkers. He tallies fast outs as a result of, along with his slider looming, batters don’t need to fall behind. And in the event that they do, he will get unhealthy swings on a pitch that skips into the dust, usually untouched, earlier than reaching Gomes’s mitt.
However that’s not the model that confronted the Marlins. This Corbin didn’t gather a one-two-three inning. He allowed a run in 5 of his six frames. He yielded a leadoff homer, one in every of Miguel Rojas’s three hits off him, and a towering, two-run shot to Garrett Cooper within the third. Then Cooper smacked one other sinker to right-center for an RBI double within the sixth. Corbin exited on the finish of that inning after 93 pitches, his line stained by seven earned runs and people 14 hits, a career-worst complete.
By then, the Nationals’ little offense was erased. It got here on Andrew Stevenson’s two-run single within the fourth, which got here after Luis García singled on the finish of an eight-pitch at-bat in opposition to Marlins starter Pablo López and Kieboom labored an eight-pitch stroll. Stevenson added a leaping catch alongside the appropriate discipline wall when the sport was nonetheless shut. García punched two opposite-field singles. That was it for positives.
Corbin stored allowing an excessive amount of contact. The protection was spotty, with Corbin bobbling a tapper that scored the Marlins’ fourth run and Turner booting a grounder within the fifth. Kieboom kicked a pointy grounder to start out the subsequent inning. The Nationals botched a double steal when Kieboom was thrown out by just a few steps. Martinez has lamented his crew lending additional outs, and the Nationals had been at it once more.
“My plan, subsequent yr in spring coaching, is to assault all these issues once more and be prepared,” Martinez mentioned. “Be prepared for Opening Day.”
Martinez has spent the previous few weeks jotting down notes for 2021. It’s simpler to look forward when the current’s so gloomy. As soon as this 19-31 arrived, with the quietest of thuds, there have been eight days remaining in a season that by no means turned. These numbers couldn’t set off one other comeback for the ages. They had been just the start of an finish.