Wins obviously have been hard to come by for the Washington Nationals. Especially when trying to string them together.
The visiting Nationals will look to post back-to-back victories — and win a series — for the first time in nearly two weeks in Wednesday’s rubber game against the Chicago Cubs.
Rookie Joey Meneses hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning that gave Washington a 6-5 victory Tuesday night and ended its six-game losing streak. It was just the 37th win of the season for the Nationals, and the third in their last 13 games.
The Nats last won two straight against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 25-26, which secured their most recent winning series. Meanwhile, Meneses is 6-for-20 with three home runs and five RBIs in six career games.
Scheduled Washington starter Josiah Gray (7-8, 4.92 ERA) has allowed 18 runs, 21 hits, 10 home runs and 10 walks in going 0-3 over his last four starts. The right-hander yielded six runs on a career-high four of those homers, while walking three, in four innings of the Nationals’ 7-2 loss at Philadelphia on Friday.
“Couldn’t really get in the flow, and it’s just definitely frustrating,” Gray said after that defeat.
He added: “Sometimes it’s not going to go my way. But in terms of physically, and everything like that, I feel like I’m prepared for every start that I’m lined up for.”
This will be his first appearance against the Cubs, who have dropped two of their past three at home following a five-game winning streak in Chicago.
Despite Tuesday’s outcome, Chicago continues to get decent play from its young talent during a season that will mark the club’s second straight without a playoff appearance.
Rookie Seiya Suzuki homered for one of his three hits on Tuesday, while Nico Hoerner added two hits with an RBI to raise his home batting average to .341 this season. Both are expected to be key parts of Chicago’s future, which the club hopes will be more competitive than this moment.
With nine home runs, Suzuki joins Christopher Morel (10), Nelson Velazquez (six), P.J. Higgins (five) and Alfonso Rivas (three) as Cubs rookies with at least three homers this season.
“When you are not winning in the major leagues, you want to make sure that you use that opportunity for a brighter future,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said.
“Our hope is certainly that we’ll churn out a lot of big leaguers that will impact here.”
Chicago’s scheduled starter on Wednesday, Justin Steele (4-7, 3.67 ERA), already has made an impact and is 2-2 with a 1.74 ERA in his last six starts. The left-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in 8 1/3 innings of his last two starts, but his teammates failed to score a run with him on the mound in each of those outings.
Steele, who fanned 10 and allowed four hits over 4 2/3 innings of Friday’s 2-1 home victory over Miami, does own a 4.03 run-support average while going 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA in his last eight starts at Wrigley Field. This will be Steele’s first start anywhere against the Nationals.
–Field Level Media