BALTIMORE—The Washington Nationals have spent most of the 2019 season battling injuries, looking for help in the bullpen and trying to find ways to pull everything together.
Once again, they couldn’t do all of that this past weekend when the Nats dropped two of three to the Central Division-leading Chicago Cubs. That was capped by a 6-5 Cubs’ win on May 19 at Nationals Park.
The Nationals fell to 18-27 on the season despite knocking around one of the National League’s hottest pitchers. Kyle Hendricks did not give up a hit until the fifth but Washington got to him for four runs, the last three coming on an Anthony Rendon homer.
That made the game close and ended Hendricks’ night at 5 1/3 innings and four runs. But Chicago had scored six by that point and held on for the win.
“The boys are swinging the bat well,” Washington Manager Dave Martinez said. “They faced a guy that came in here pitching really, really well, and we were able to knock him out of the game.”
The night before, Stephen Strasburg went eight innings and helped the Nats to a 5-2 victory. Strasburg controlled the Cubs and gave them very little in the victory.
Sean Doolittle closed it in the ninth but when he tapped or grazed his toe while making his delivery caused the Cubs to complain and later protest the game because one of their pitchers – Carl Edwards Jr. – had been called out on something similar earlier this season. But the Cubs dropped the protest on Sunday. Chicago scored a 14-6 victory on Friday thanks to runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings from Kris Bryant.
Right now, the Nationals have a lot of injuries and inconsistent performances yet still remain within shouting distance in the National League East. They’re hoping things will change soon.
VALOR EDGES SOUL
Washington Valor quarterback Arvell Nelson threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reese with six seconds to go pulling out a 53-46 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Soul on May 18.
Nelson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, and he completed 23 of 38 passes for 302 yards and finished with seven touchdowns overall. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for five overall.
Wide receiver Reggie Gray caught two touchdown passes – 10 and 37 yards – and now he is just five touchdowns away from 10th in league history.
Also, rookie defensive back Jadar Johnson made his first career interception, a pick of Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh in the third quarter. Johnson was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Game and finished with 6.5 tackles and the interception.
Valor receiver Dezmon Epps came into the game tops in the league in yards per reception (18.9) and receiving touchdowns (five), he added nine catches and 113 yards to his totals in the win.
RAVENS MAKE MOVES
The Baltimore Ravens made three free-agent signings last week that should help their defense.
They brought back outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who had left a few years ago to test the free agent market, with steps in Chicago and then Washington. He battled injuries during his time away from Baltimore. McPhee was signed to a one-year deal.
“I’m happy to be back,” McPhee said on the team’s web site. “Let’s get this thing rocking again.”
That should help the pass rush as McPhee is a good rusher. Newly-signed Shane Ray, formerly with Denver, also got a one-year deal to join the Ravens. He was the top pick of the Broncos four years ago and had eight sacks in 2016 but just one in each of the last two seasons while fighting big injury issues.
The Ravens have some sacks to replace due to the loss of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. They combined for 15 ½ sacks last season.
On offense, the Ravens signed wide receiver Michael Floyd to a one-year deal. He only caught 10 passes with Washington last year in 13 games, but has 266 catches for 3,959 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career. He has bounced around the league from Arizona to New England, Minnesota and Washington.