MacKenzie Gore is eliminated early as the Nationals are defeated by the Phillies

PHILADELPHIA — Aside from the score — and it ended up 19-4, a hidden loss for the Washington Nationals — the most important thing was whether MacKenzie Gore was feeling good. After the Philadelphia Phillies beat him by six runs in the third inning on Saturday, Gore was visited by Nationals physical coach Paul Lessard before they headed out together. On the telecast, it appeared that Gore repeated, “I’m fine,” urging the team and their fans to take a deep breath.

“We went there because he didn’t cover first base [on a potential double play earlier in the inning], so I thought he might have done something to his ankle,” manager Dave Martinez said. “When I got there, I saw him shaking his hand. He has a small blister on his finger. I wanted to take him and see the whole thing. But he says he’s fine.”

Did this make it difficult for Gore to pitch effectively?

“No,” Gore replied. “It’s always something I have to deal with. So, yes, I agree with that. It had nothing to do with what happened.”

Nothing else about Gore’s afternoon was particularly reassuring. His final throw, a fastball that Cristian Pache smashed for a double, clocked in at 93.4 mph. His fastball averaged a 95.1 that day and his top speed was a 96.5. Here, however, Gore was in a demanding frame with nine batters and tried to hold off far more experienced hitters but failed. The mess started with back-to-back walks. It snowballed when the Nationals (33-49) failed to turn a double play after a sharp grounder first, for which Gore blamed himself for failing to cover first.

Then followed three straight run-scoring swings: an RBI single from JT Realmuto, a sacrifice fly from Josh Harrison, and a two-run homer from Alec Bohm. In turn, Gore’s ERA increased from 3.89 to 4.48.

“The biggest thing is not getting over it [to cover first]” Gore said, adding that he was trying to beat the Phillies and missed too many spots. “We talk about getting the little things right and that can’t be allowed to happen. Instead of getting two outs, we only got one, and after that it’s a deep stall. This sac fly would have been very different. Sometimes you get hit but you can’t get over it, it just can’t be allowed to happen.”

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Gore threw 36 of his 64 throws in the third round. He totaled eight outs and had seven earned runs. So when Lessard left the dugout before he knew Gore was struggling with a blister on his middle finger, it was only natural to remember why he only made 16 appearances in 2022. After a dominant start to his rookie year, his left elbow was tired and tired at the end of July, he was on the injured list with an infection. After trading for Gore, the Nationals ruled him out for the season, remaining wary of a pitcher they hope will cement future competitive rotations.

Back in spring training, Martinez mentioned that he should keep an eye on Gore’s workload. By Saturday he had climbed 90 pitches in 14 of his 16 missions. He didn’t miss a turn either. Whether that will be necessary is a question for later this summer — for the Nationals front office and medical staff, to a lesser extent for Gore. But it will certainly be asked.

The finer details of Gore’s worst start to the season: He threw a lot of shots early. Bryce Harper doubled in the second set, lifting a fastball into left field corner before Bohm put it in the basket. When Gore’s command failed, the Phillies pounced on him in the third round, using three walks and four hits for the crooked number. Three of the hits came against his four-seam fastball. The other, a Nick Castellanos single, was on a corner at the bottom of the strike zone. On the botched doubles game, Dominic Smith threw the ball in and threw a strike to shortstop CJ Abrams, who landed in the end before seeing no one covering base.

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After Gore was eliminated, the Phillies (44-38) knocked over three young substitutes. Your lines:

Amos Willingham (24): nine batters faced, four outs, five hits (including two homers) and four runs.

Joe La Sorsa (25): Five batters faced, one out, four hits (including three bad luck) and four runs.

Thaddeus Ward (26): six batters faced, two outs, two hits (including Kyle Schwarber’s grand slam) and four runs.

In doing so, Philadelphia increased the points tally, ending the Nationals’ three-game winning streak. Elsewhere, Jose A. Ferrer, a 23-year-old left-hander, made his major league debut, scoring twice in a clean sixth-place finish. Instead of pushing Cory Abbott into the eighth, Martinez fielded utility man Ildemaro Vargas, who did what Willingham, La Sorsa, Ward and Abbott couldn’t and hit a triple inning. It was just one of those days.

“There’s another one in five days,” Gore said of how he’ll get over that launch, “but I understand there are some things I’ve done.” [made] the trip as it was. I just have to do it a little bit better.” MacKenzie Gore is eliminated early as the Nationals are defeated by the Phillies

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