Will tensions carry over when Nationals host White Sox?

Sep 18, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Dominic Smith (22) is restrained from Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (not pictured) after hitting a home run by home plate umpire Will Little (93) as White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal (24) steps in during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals are out of playoff contention, but they’re still bringing the passion to their three-game set in the nation’s capital.

And Tuesday’s second game could see tensions carrying over from Monday night. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Dominic Smith’s home run broke up White Sox starter Mike Clevinger’s shutout bid and words were exchanged. Players from both dugouts and bullpens gathered on the field during the dust-up.

“He did his dance. He stayed at the plate for 10 seconds,” Clevinger said of the incident. “I gave him my piece. … We’re all good.”

Nationals manager Davey Martinez said there was no need for more trouble to be brewing and he was glad the game ended without another incident.

“Dom stood there and watched the home run,” Martinez said. “… It’s part of the game. I’ve seen a lot worse.”

The White Sox (58-93) should be in good shape with their bullpen after Clevinger’s complete-game, six-hitter in the 6-1 win.

The approach at the plate from Washington batters was bothersome to Martinez.

“We did a whole lot of chasing,” Martinez said. “We didn’t swing at a whole lot of strikes. We were all over the map. We have to start (seeing) the ball in the strike zone again. We have to accept our walks. We were chasing a lot.”

The Nationals (66-85), who have lost six of their last seven games, are looking at their young pitchers — and appreciating the fact they were able to keep their pitching staff mostly healthy throughout the season.

“We’re going to be young again next year,” Martinez said. “We’ll have to map out some of the things we want to do.”

Chicago will use right-hander Jose Urena (0-6, 8.48 ERA) as its starting pitcher in the second game of the series. He’s 0-2 since joining the White Sox from Colorado. Urena hasn’t won a game since Aug. 30, 2022, at Atlanta.

Urena has given up at least three earned runs in every appearance this season except in his debut earlier this month for the White Sox when he held the Detroit Tigers to one run in four innings. That’s also the only outing in seven games this season when he didn’t give up a home run.

Despite allowing six runs in 6 1/3 innings last Thursday to Minnesota, Urena struck out eight without a walk in the 10-2 loss.

Urena is 5-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 appearances (eight starts) all-time against the Nationals. That matches the most wins he has against any team (5-6 vs. the New York Mets).

Nationals right-hander Jackson Rutledge (0-1, 17.18) heads to the mound for his second big league appearance. He allowed seven runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings his debut last Wednesday at Pittsburgh.

So naturally he’s looking for better results in his second game in the majors.

“I’m a big leaguer and no one can take that from me,” Rutledge said. “I’m going to be better next time out.”

Perhaps less nerves will allow him to be sharper against the White Sox.

“I got behind more than I would have liked to,” he said of his debut. “The first hitter I got behind. But battled back and kind of showed that I can throw all my pitches in the zone.”

–Field Level Media

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