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Apr 21, 2024 7:29 am

Nationals bring momentum into rubber match vs. Astros

Joey Meneses

The Washington Nationals should have some momentum going into Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the visiting Houston Astros.

The series is even at one game apiece after the Nationals rallied for a 5-4, 10-inning victory Saturday. They scored two runs in the ninth and one run in the extra inning.

“We’re in it until we’re not,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “And they believe that. They believe that at any given moment they can score two, three runs.”

Designated hitter Joey Meneses provided the game-winning single, driving in just his fifth run of the month.

“Any play that helps the team win is important,” Meneses said. “It means a lot. You work for this moment.”

That swing might be the spark that helps Meneses snap out of some tough times at the plate. After three hits Saturday, he’s batting .217.

“He really has been frustrated,” Martinez said. “He came through when we needed him most. Hopefully, he’ll get going and drive in some runs.”

The Nationals had gone 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position Saturday before their comeback.

“Our bats have got to get better,” Martinez said. “We started chasing a lot. We’re taking good pitches to hit.”

The Astros have lost four of their last five games, with their past two defeats coming in 10 innings. The most recent setback brought particular misery.

“You have the guys that you want in the game, and the fact that you can’t close this game, it’s hard to swallow,” Houston manager Joe Espada said.

The Astros will seek their third quality start of the series when right-hander Cristian Javier (2-0, 1.54 ERA) goes to the mound Sunday. He has worked at least five innings in all four starts this season, allowing no more than two earned runs in each of those. This will be just his second road outing of the season.

Javier is 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two career starts against the Nationals, though last year he shut them out on two hits across six innings in Houston. He gave up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings two years ago in Washington.

Left-hander Mitchell Parker (1-0, 3.60 ERA) is slated to be Washington’s starting pitcher in just his second big league game. He went five innings and gave up two runs Monday to the Los Angeles Dodgers in his team’s road win.

Parker became the first Nationals pitcher to win in his major league debut in 14 years (since Stephen Strasburg in June 2010). Now he’ll make his first appearance in the majors as a member of the home team, but don’t expect him to change.

“That kid has a very low heartbeat,” Martinez said. “Nothing seems to faze him.”

Parker has made it through one game.

“A very special experience,” he said. “I’m trying to not overthink it.”

Parker will wear No. 70. That’s notable because in his debut, he, like other players across the major leagues, wore No. 42 on Monday to honor Jackie Robinson Day.

–Field Level Media

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