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May 13, 2024 6:44 am

Nats, White Sox open series, aim to cut down on miscues

Nationals Red Sox

Mistakes plagued the Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox in their respective losses on Sunday.

Both squads will look to orchestrate a cleaner game on Monday night when the White Sox host the Nationals to begin a three-game series.

Washington’s miscues in the field and on the basepaths on Sunday proved costly in a 3-2 road setback against the Boston Red Sox.

In the second inning, center fielder Victor Robles dropped a routine fly ball that loaded the bases. The Red Sox scored all three of their runs later that inning.

“To be totally honest with you, I wanted to take (Robles) out of the game,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “… That can’t happen. It changed the game a little bit there.”

Martinez said he couldn’t remove Robles because his would-be replacement, Jesse Winker, was sidelined with back spasms. Winker will be evaluated on Monday, Martinez said.

Robles compounded his fielding error with a baserunning blunder in the third.

After reaching second on CJ Abrams’ single, Robles broke for third but failed to notice that Riley Adams had been held ahead of him. Robles was tagged out in the ensuing rundown, and the Nationals did not score in the inning.

Robles was one of four Washington runners tagged out on the basepaths on Sunday. Abrams was nabbed trying to steal second base in the first, as was Jacob Young to end the game. Nick Senzel was picked off first base in the seventh.

Martinez indicated that the Nationals’ baserunners will continue to be aggressive, however.

“We made some mistakes out there, but … we’re gonna push the envelope,” he said. “That’s the kind of baseball we play.”

Washington’s 68 stolen bases are the second-most in the majors entering Monday’s games.

How well-suited the Nationals are to add to that total partly depends on who catches for Chicago. Korey Lee has caught 25 games this season for the White Sox and Martin Maldonado 24. Lee has thrown out a quarter of the 24 potential base stealers who have tested him, while Maldonado has caught just two of 22.

Lee’s passed ball contributed to Chicago’s sloppy sixth inning in Sunday’s 7-0 home loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

A pickoff error by reliever Tim Hill and a fielding error by first baseman Andrew Vaughn led to three runs in the sixth as Cleveland pulled away to snap the White Sox’ season-best four-game winning streak.

Chicago has won six of its last nine games after starting 3-22, and second-year manager Pedro Grifol says his squad has matured amid its 12-29 start.

“Those first 15, 18 games were really, really tough. It was a tough storm. But we are all better for it,” Grifol said. “It’s wasted energy in my opinion in thinking about what can we do three, four series from now, or the next 10 games. Worry about what you can do today.”

The matchup Monday against Washington right-hander Trevor Williams (4-0, 1.96 ERA) forecasts another potential dreary day for a Chicago offense that has been shut out an MLB-high 10 times this season.

Williams most recently surrendered a run on April 26, three starts ago to Miami. He tied his career high with eight punchouts in his latest outing on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

The 32-year-old is the only starter this season to throw at least 35 innings without allowing a home run. Williams gave up 34 homers in 2023, the most in the National League.

In three career starts against the White Sox, the nine-year veteran is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA.

Chicago will deploy right-hander Chris Flexen (2-3, 4.29), who allowed one run over six innings to win his lone career start against the Nationals with the Seattle Mariners in 2022.

–Field Level Media

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