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After postponement, Nationals set for split doubleheader vs. Diamondbacks

Sportsnaut
Apr 3, 2022; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray (40) delivers a pitch in the first inning of the spring training game against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals probably weren’t all that upset when Monday’s series opener against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks was postponed due to inclement weather.

The Nationals likely appreciated the day off ahead of a split doubleheader on Tuesday.

Washington has opened the season with 11 straight games, so Monday’s day off provided a welcome break. The Nationals are eager for a fresh start after losing three of four to the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez was not pleased with his team’s defensive performance in Sunday’s 5-3 loss. In addition to a costly passed ball in the seventh inning, third baseman Maikel Franco committed three errors.

“Those little things, we’ve got to clean up,” Martinez said. “We can’t give teams extra outs. We’re not going to win games like that.”

The Nationals will turn to right-hander Josiah Gray (1-1, 4.00 ERA) in Tuesday’s first game. Gray bounced back from a shaky season debut with a strong performance last Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves.

Gray, 24, earned the victory after tossing five scoreless innings with three walks and five strikeouts.

“It’s really exciting to see him grow and I’m pumped to see what happens next for him,” Nationals first baseman Josh Bell said.

Gray will be making his first career appearance against Arizona. He went 2-2 with a 5.31 ERA in 12 starts last season for the Nationals.

Arizona is looking to ignite its offense after losing two of three against the New York Mets over the weekend. The D-backs scored a total of six runs in the series.

Arizona was held to five hits and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 5-0 loss on Sunday.

“We can’t get any momentum going,” Arizona outfielder Pavin Smith said. “We get guys on base and it seems like everybody wants to try to get the big hit and that makes it worse. We’ve just got to keep grinding, keep chugging away at each individual at-bat to try to get better. And try not to press as much.”

Arizona will turn to left-hander Madison Bumgarner (0-0, 2.25) for Tuesday’s first game. Bumgarner received a no-decision after giving up one run and five hits over five innings against the Houston Astros last Tuesday. He walked two and struck out two.

Franco is 6-for-14 with a home run against Bumgarner, who is 4-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 11 career starts versus Washington.

Tuesday’s nightcap is expected to feature a matchup between Arizona left-hander Tyler Gilbert (0-0, 0.00) and Nationals right-hander Joan Adon (0-2, 10.00).

Gilbert will be recalled from Triple-A Reno prior to the game to make his season debut. Gilbert, 28, appeared in nine games (six starts) with the D-backs as a rookie last season, going 2-2 with a 3.15 ERA.

Adon, 23, is set to make his fourth career start. The right-hander allowed six runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates last Thursday.

“His misses were bad and then when he threw a strike, it was right down the middle,” Martinez said. “He was missing spots pretty much all night. It’s a factor of just being young. We’ve really got to get him to understand how to attack the strike zone on hitters and follow the game plan.”

–Field Level Media