With the thrill of Sunday night’s win still fresh in the minds of Phillies’ fans, the team traveled to the nation’s capital to face the depleted reigning champions. The Nationals have endured free agent departures, injuries to a key pitcher and slow starts on offense to enter the game four games back of the Braves, tied with the Phillies in the basement of the National League East.
Jake Arrieta was on the hill for the Phillies and Ricky Bottalico made it a point on the pregame show to state the obvious: if Arrieta is getting his pitches to dart around the edges of the zone, he’s going to be hard to hit. In the bottom of the first, he wasn’t darting around the edge of the zone.
Trea Turner celebrates Oppo Taco Tuesday with his 11th career leadoff HR.@treavturner // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/2MCa1ZdKIw— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 25, 2020
That pitch to Trea Turner, the leadoff hitter for Washington, went right back over the heart of the plate, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead before fans could even blink.
Yet in what is starting to become somewhat regular for Arrieta, he settled himself and began to right the ship. After giving up that hit to Turner, he began to find himself, allowing only three more baserunners during his outing. He was helped by some stellar defense on the night. He induced three double plays that helped any time he sniffed trouble, part of the ten groundball outs he got. It was mostly due to the fact that he was able to get his pitches moving around the edges of the zone.
Jake Arrieta, 91mph Sinker and 89mph hard Slider/Cutter, Individual Pitches + Overlay. pic.twitter.com/nkTHOEvfvX— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 25, 2020
As Arrieta was helped by the defense, he also received help from his offense. In the third inning, Scott Kingery got off the schneid by hitting a long double for his first extra base hit of the season. Andrew McCutchen singled him home, tying the game at one. Rhys Hoskins followed with a single before Bryce Harper flied out for the second out of the inning. J.T. Realmuto, the next batter, hit what he thought was a long fly ball that carried...
A look at Realmuto’s homer that bounced off then over the wall. Had an expected BA of .260: pic.twitter.com/zqenIEhjXr— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) August 25, 2020
That home run gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead and with the way Arrieta was dealing, it felt like a good night.
Then the rain came.
After the fifth inning, the umpires called for the tarp to cover the field and the game to be delayed. This wasn’t exactly what the Phillies wanted as a long delay meant that Arrieta would not be able to come back out and the team would need 12 outs from their beleaguered bullpen.
In the bottom of the sixth, Heath Hembree was the first one called upon and, despite getting the first two outs via strikeouts, gave up a home run to Adam Eaton, followed by a walk to Juan Soto, necessitating a pitching change to Tommy Hunter, who promptly got the third out. It was part of a pattern on the evening where Joe Girardi demonstrated a justifiably quick hook.
The seventh inning was the Roman Quinn inning
Leading off with a bunt single, Quinn then stole second again, then went to third on a wild pitch. With McCutchen batting, a groundball to a drawn in infield still sent Quinn home, who somehow still beat the throw home.
Roman Quinn is too dang fast.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 26, 2020
5-2, Phils. pic.twitter.com/vtgEt5Clry
That was clocked at 29 feet per second. Let that sink in a little bit.
In the eighth, they got another run thanks to an Alec Bohm RBI single that scored Didi Gregorius, making it 6-2. In the bottom half of the frame, Hector Neris got two outs, but allowed two cheap hits that brought up Soto again, meaning Girardi needed to make another change, bringing in Adam Morgan. Morgan was gifted a first pitch strike that set the tone for the at bat, which culminated with Soto grounding over the mound that Jean Segura made a nice play on, retiring the superstar hitter and ending the threat.
The ninth inning saw the Phillies put some icing on the cake when Segura tallied his third hit of the night, a bases loaded single that scored two and made it 8-2. The Nationals eked out a meaningless run in the bottom of the ninth.
It was a solid win for the team, getting offense from up and down the lineup, another great start from Arrieta and a bullpen that might - MIGHT - be getting their act together.