Nationals finish skid behind homers from Keibert Ruiz, Joey Meneses


CHICAGO — Earlier than the Washington Nationals’ sport Tuesday evening towards the Chicago Cubs, catcher Keibert Ruiz sat within the dugout, shaking his bat in his palms as he watched his teammates work out at Wrigley Subject.

“I need some more home runs, man,” Ruiz mentioned.

The wooden listened. Or maybe he simply obtained the fitting pitches. Regardless of the case, Ruiz launched two house runs within the first 4 innings off Marcus Stroman to jump-start the Nationals’ offense, which then obtained an enormous enhance from a two-run homer by Joey Meneses within the eighth, and the guests held on for a 6-5 win regardless of a seventh-inning bullpen meltdown.

The outburst marked the primary multihomer sport of Ruiz’s profession and it made him solely the fifth Nationals catcher to perform the feat. It additionally snapped a six-game dropping streak — together with the primary 5 contests on this seven-game journey.

“Obviously I want to hit homers and I want to be better with my offense,” Ruiz mentioned after the sport. “I just have to control what I can control and keep working hard every day.”

When the Nationals traded Max Scherzer and Trea Turner final yr, they acquired Ruiz in hopes of getting a catcher who might be stout defensively and supply a middle-of-the-order bat.

If he’s a defense-first catcher shifting ahead, that will be good worth for the Nationals. Ruiz entered Tuesday’s sport tied with the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto for the league lead with 18 runners caught stealing and moved forward when he caught Seiya Suzuki making an attempt to swipe second base within the ninth.

However the bonus might be Ruiz’s bat, which has been inconsistent in his first full season in Washington. He has chased balls outdoors the zone at instances and entered Tuesday with simply 4 house runs in 317 at-bats.

Within the second inning, Ruiz obtained a sinker in on his palms and turned on the ball, sending it 384 toes down the fitting discipline line to provide Washington a 1-0 cushion. That lead was short-lived when Paolo Espino allowed a solo shot to Suzuki within the backside of the inning.

So Ruiz stepped up once more within the fourth, this time with two males on. Stroman tried to jam him inside once more — with a cutter as an alternative of a sinker — however Ruiz’s swing beat the ball to the spot.

The ball ricocheted off the bleachers and again onto the sphere, so the umpires didn’t instantly sign a house run, not sure if the ball went out. Ruiz was sure. He stored rounding the bases and, after the umpires conferred, they dominated it a house run and the Nationals led 4-1.

“When they pitch him in, he’s going to have to turn on a couple balls,” Supervisor Dave Martinez mentioned. “He got two balls in there where he got his hands through and stayed behind the ball and drove them.”

The Cubs jumped in entrance within the seventh, scoring 4 runs on seven singles. The inning included an out on the plate: Lane Thomas threw out Rafael Ortega on a play that included Ruiz making a pleasant tag.

Meneses then supplied the distinction within the eighth, blasting a misplaced curveball from Mark Leiter Jr. 358 toes to left to attain Maikel Franco. Carl Edwards Jr., a former Cub, obtained by the ninth to finish the Nationals’ skid.

“Even though I was in front of the pitch a little bit, I knew I hit it in the sweet spot of the bat,” Meneses mentioned by an interpreter. “Initially, I wasn’t sure (it was a homer), but I knew it had a chance.”

Why was Nelson Cruz faraway from the sport within the fifth inning? Martinez mentioned he was taken out with posterior proper shoulder soreness after Cruz grimaced whereas swinging the bat. Cruz tried to swing within the cage to loosen up, however was changed by Maikel Franco.

Is Patrick Corbin nonetheless within the rotation? Sure, and he’s scheduled to start out subsequent Tuesday at house towards the Cubs. The Nationals are off Thursday, Corbin’s begin day on common relaxation, so Martinez opted to skip his begin so he may get some additional work in bullpen classes with pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Corbin’s struggles are well-documented and have been particularly acute these days. He has didn’t make it out of the primary inning in two of his previous three outings, and his ERA sits at 7.02. Martinez mentioned Corbin was clearly pissed off when he spoke with him and Hickey, however the left-hander needed to proceed beginning and end the season sturdy.

“Regardless of what anyone thinks, he’s going to be one of our starters next year and the year after that,” Martinez mentioned.

Corbin is within the fourth yr of a six-year, $140 million contract.

What strikes did the Nationals make earlier than Tuesday’s sport? They claimed left-handed reliever Jake McGee off waivers from Milwaukee and designated outfielder Donovan Casey for task to clear house on the 40-man roster. Casey was one of many 4 prospects that the Nationals obtained in final yr’s deal for Scherzer and Turner; Ruiz and Josiah Grey are within the majors, whereas Gerardo Carrillo is rehabbing with excessive Class A Wilmington.

McGee will meet the staff in Washington on Friday. The transfer offers the Nationals a left-handed arm out of the bullpen, one thing they’ve lacked for a lot of the yr. Sean Doolittle stuffed that void till he was injured early within the season; Josh Rogers and Evan Lee are additionally lefties who have been obtainable as lengthy relievers. However Doolittle and Lee are injured. Rogers was designated for task this month.

The transfer to chop Casey is a reminder that not each prospect in commerce deadline offers works out. Casey was referred to as up April 15 and appeared slated to make his main league debut, however he by no means performed and was optioned out 5 days later. He by no means made it again to the majors as he struggled with Class AAA Rochester, hitting .219 with a .293 on-base proportion in 67 video games

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