Nationals

Quick Links

WATCH: Former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters hits 1st homer with Nationals

WATCH: Former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters hits 1st homer with Nationals

Former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters hit his first home run as a member of the Nationals on Tuesday night.

Wieters’ homer, a solo shot to right field, came in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals of the Nationals’ 8-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals took a 4-2 lead on Wieters' home run. He finished the game 2 for 3.

Earlier in the fourth, Jayson Werth homered to left center. In the fifth inning, Daniel Murphy hit a two-run shot to right field.

Tuesday night’s game was the second of a three-game home series against the Cardinals. The Nationals won 14-6 Monday night. The teams will play again Wednesday.

Wieters, 30, spent the first eight seasons of his MLB career with the Orioles before signing a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Nationals in February.

During his time with the Orioles, Wieters was a four-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner. He also hit 117 home runs, including 17 last season.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals hang in top 10 of Forbes' most valuable MLB franchises

Quick Links

Nats' offense needs to get going to maintain control in NL Wild Card race

Nats' offense needs to get going to maintain control in NL Wild Card race

Playoff prediction formulas have the Nationals at above 90 percent to qualify, but at the moment it doesn't exactly feel that way. 

With their 4-2 loss to the Cardinals on Monday night and the Brewers' win over the Padres, the Nats are now only 1 1/2 games up in the NL Wild Card race. Milwaukee erased two games in four days.

The Nats are just a half-game ahead of the Cubs for the first spot. They want that for home field advantage.

The schedule has been unforgiving with this series against St. Louis the Nats' fourth straight against a division-leading foe. The Cardinals are in the drivers seat in the NL Central with an 84-66 record overall and a 26-11 mark since Aug. 7.

Offense has been the Nats' most glaring issue of late. Their two runs on Monday gave them only 10 total in their last four games. The lone win came Sunday when the offense broke out for seven runs to avoid a sweep against the Braves.

The Nationals are going to need to get their bats going to close the deal on a postseason berth. They have only 13 games remaining and all but three are against clubs with winning records. They have two games to go against the Cardinals, who boast the NL's second-best ERA.

Several Nats players have stood out recently for their shortcomings at the plate. Trea Turner, who went 0-for-4 on Monday, is now 5-for-31 (.161) in his last eight games. He's sporting a .284 on-base percentage in his last 17 outings.

Adam Eaton also went 0-for-4 against the Cardinals and is currently 2-for-15 going back to the start of the Braves series on Friday night. He's batting .163 in his last 16 games with a .229 OBP.

That's just the top of the order. Ryan Zimmerman is now hitless in three straight games. Gerardo Parra, who for most of this season has been a plus off the bench, is 3-for-46 (.065) going back to Aug. 13.

Then there's Yan Gomes, who despite getting a hit on Monday is now 3-for-20 (.150) in his last six games. Gomes has done an admirable job by catching nine of the last 10 games, but Kurt Suzuki's bat has been missed. Suzuki, who has 16 homers and 58 RBI in only 81 games, has been sidelined due to right elbow inflammation. 

The lack of offense has put undue pressure on the pitching staff. Stephen Strasburg wasn't sharp on Monday, but managed to get through five innings with only two runs allowed. The Nats' bullpen then gave up a pair of runs split between Sean Doolittle and Hunter Strickland in the seventh.

It wasn't pretty, but allowing four runs is manageable. Scoring only two runs is a major problem. The Nats are now 5-24 this season when they score two or fewer runs.

Scoring is what got the Nationals to this point, currently holding a playoff spot. Since May 24, when they began their turnaround at 19-31, the Nats have scored more runs than any other NL team. 

They have to get back to that and soon. A lot can happen in the next 13 games.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Nationals manager Dave Martinez remains in Washington for further testing following minor heart procedure

Nationals manager Dave Martinez remains in Washington for further testing following minor heart procedure

Davey Martinez remained in Washington for further medical testing instead of traveling to St. Louis, the Nationals announced Monday. Bench coach Chip Hale will manage instead.

Martinez left Sunday’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning because he was not feeling well. He went to a local hospital for further examinations upon the recommendation from Nationals medical staff.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters in St. Louis on Monday that Martinez had chest pains during Sunday’s game. He underwent a minor heart procedure called a cardiac catheterization. Rizzo said Martinez is expected to rejoin the team once his blood work comes back and he is cleared to travel. 

“This is something we have to take care of,” Rizzo told reporters. “We are certainly, when we get all the results back, we will have a game plan in place and get him back here as soon as we can."

Hale, 54, joined the Nationals’ staff as bench coach when Martinez was hired. The Baltimore Orioles interviewed him this offseason for their open managerial position. Hale has replaced Martinez following each of Martinez’s ejections this season.

Hale managed the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2015-16, where his teams went a combined 148-176. He’s also been the third base coach for the New York Mets, the bench coach for the Oakland A’s, and even a Triple-A manager. Prior, Hale was a part-time major leaguer for seven seasons.

Tim Bogar will slide into the bench coach role. Assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon will coach first base. The Nationals do not plan to add coaches to the staff during Martinez’s absence.

Though he is not present, Martinez continues to influence the day. Hale said Martinez texted the lineup to him.

The Nationals open a three-game series Monday night in St. Louis. They have a 1 ½-game lead for home-field in the Wild-Card Game. They are just 2 ½ games in front of Milwaukee for a postseason berth. Just 14 games remain in the season. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: