Phillies’ Zack Wheeler seeks first win over Nationals this season

MLB Baseball

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler faces the Washington Nationals for the fifth time this season on Tuesday when the teams play the second game of a four-game series.

Wheeler (8-6, 2.45 ERA) is 0-3 with a 3.86 ERA versus Washington in 2021. He has struck out 24 batters in 23 1/3 innings during those outings.

His last start was against the Nationals on Thursday. Wheeler took the loss despite going the distance and allowing three runs on seven hits in the opener of a doubleheader. He was outdueled by Max Scherzer in what turned out to be the eight-time All-Star’s final start for Washington.

“That was a big game for us, and I needed to go out and post some zeros, especially against Max because he’s going to hold us or try to, and I let us down out there,” Wheeler said.

During a career spent in the National League East, Wheeler is 6-14 with a 4.51 ERA in 24 starts against the Nationals.

Wheeler’s mound opponent Tuesday will be 32-year-old left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-9, 5.78). With Scherzer and Jon Lester traded away and Stephen Strasburg sidelined, Corbin is now the grizzled veteran of the Washington pitching staff.

Corbin was no doubt happy to see July in his rearview mirror after going 1-3 with a 7.18 ERA and a .333 opponents’ batting average. Last time, out he allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings of a no-decision during the second game of the Thursday doubleheader against the Phillies.

In 13 career starts against the Phillies, Corbin is 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA.

J.T. Realmuto’s two-run single was the key hit in a five-run ninth inning Monday as the visiting Phillies rallied past the Nationals for a 7-5 win, creeping closer to the faltering first-place New York Mets.

Odubel Herrera had a homer and a single for Philadelphia.

The Phillies got more good news as Ranger Suarez, making his first start since Sept. 30, 2018, as the team looks to bolster the back end of its rotation, went three scoreless innings. He allowed no hits and one walk, and he struck out one.

It wasn’t all good on Monday, however, as Phillies left fielder Andrew McCutchen, who came out of the Saturday game in Pittsburgh due to soreness in his left knee, was placed on the 10-day injured list.

“We just didn’t feel like it’d be a couple days,” manager Joe Girardi said before Monday’s game. “We think it’ll calm down with this stint, and our hope is to get him back when it’s over.”

The Nationals had taken a 3-2 lead on Ryan Zimmerman’s two-run, pinch-hit single in the seventh, but the bullpen blew its fourth save in the past nine games. With closer Brad Hand and setup man Daniel Hudson departed and new closer Kyle Finnegan unavailable, manager Dave Martinez tried to get through the ninth with Gabe Klobosits and Wander Suero, who couldn’t seal a win.

“We’ll see how Finnegan feels (Tuesday),” Martinez said, “but like I’ve said before: These guys are going to get an opportunity to do some things they probably haven’t done before, and we’ve got to see what they can do.”

The Nationals did get a strong start from 23-year-old Josiah Gray in his team debut. He was obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday as part of the package for ace Max Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner.

Gray allowed one run on four hits in five innings. He walked two and fanned two.

With a single and a walk, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto as reached base safely in 18 consecutive games.

–Field Level Media

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