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The Morning Briefing: A Schwarbomb in a Jon Lester start at Wrigley Field isn’t enough to help the Nationals

Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball headlines, news, and the latest news for Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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Good Tuesday morning! Thank you for starting the day with us.

Game Time Weather via the National Weather Service: Periods of showers, mainly between 7pm and 11pm. Low around 58. South southeast wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible..

Upcoming games:

Tuesday, May 18, 2021: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs, 7:40 pm EDT
Wednesday, May 19, 2021: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs, 7:40 pm EDT
Thursday, May 20, 2021: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs, 2:20 pm EDT

Today’s Top Story: Emotional night for Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester doesn’t propel Nationals to get that Curly W in Game 1 of Chicago Series

Sometimes, returning “home” isn’t so great for the whole family. That was the case last night, when almost a handful of former Chicago Cubs returned to Wrigley Field for the first time since leaving the Cubs. Left-handed pitcher Jon Lester, outfielder Kyle Schwarber and third baseman Starlin Castro all came home for the first time in 2021 but played for the opposing team. Even though there were a lot of emotions last night, the Nationals had a game to win but couldn’t pull it off.

In the bottom of the first, Cubs hitters “attacked” Lester at the plate right at the gate and a couple of singles by Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant, and a sac fly by Anthony Rizzo got the Cubbies on the board, up 1-0 after one on the North Side of Chicago.

The Cubs didn’t look back from there. Even though Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run homerun in the top of the fourth, the Nationals were never able to outscore the Cubs and were dealt a 7-3 loss, their 16th loss of the season.

After the game, manager Dave Martinez noticed that Lester came out over “amped” for the first inning and mentioned that in his post-game Zoom press conference.

“One, he’s had a tremendous career, and [two], he did something that these fans waited 108 years for, was part of it…So it was a big day for him, and then to go out there and just pitch. And like I said, he came out, he was amped up the first couple innings and then he settled down.”

Lester was also surprised to see former teammates be aggressive at the plate with him on the mound. In his post-game Zoom session, Lester made a point to mention the approach taken by his former teammates.

“Especially from a couple of the guys that I’ve known to be predominantly pretty patient. Once you kind of see that you have to make adjustments, and I think we were able to do that, we threw a lot of changeups, finally got a couple of curveballs in there tonight that were actually useful. So, yeah, a little surprised. I kind of figured some of them would maybe be a little bit uber-aggressive just knowing me and knowing I’m around the zone, so we tried to pick our spots to slow them down, but obviously they beat me to a couple spots.”

Tonight, the Nationals look to get back on track as they will send left-hander Patrick Corbin to the mound, and the Chicago Cubs will send Zach Davies to the mound. Hopefully, the Nationals’ bats can come alive and do some damage against the 2-2 Davies.

You would have to go all the way back to 2017, the last time that any Washington Nationals faced Davies when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2017, Washington Nationals hitters had a total of 50 at bats and only nine hits and scored two runs. In his last start against the Cleveland Indians, Zach Davies went five and a third innings and struck out four Cleveland hitters. He only gave up one run on six hits and walked two.

Game highlights:

Trea Turner continues to be one of the best shortstops in MLB. Last night, he hit another home run (total now at 10), which put him on pace to have 44 home runs by the end of the season.

Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning. Schwarber has a .750 OPS and a .226 batting average.

Stat of the night:

From our friends at TalkNats.com, Josh Bell goes to sleep against bullpens. He is 3-33 (.091) on the season in innings seven and later.

Quote of the night:

“Yeah, I mean, that’s a tough one. I have to — you have to also realize that I’m a National and I’m playing for these guys. I do appreciate it as a person, as an individual, but I also can’t be — I didn’t pitch great, I didn’t pitch terrible, I didn’t think, but I can’t be tipping my hat walking off the field like that down 5-3 at that particular moment in the game. So, is it appreciated? 100%. It’s a great moment, but I can’t do that being in the situation I’m in.” – Jon Lester in his postgame Zoom Conference.

Injury update:

It was reported yesterday afternoon during Dave Martinez’s press conference that Stephen Strasburg joined the team in Chicago and will throw a bullpen session in the coming days. Martinez said the team will decide after that if he’s ready to come off the IL and start this weekend against the Orioles.

Strasburg is coming off a weekend performance with the Rochester Red Wings, the Nationals’ new Triple-A affiliate, where he pitched 4.1 scoreless innings and struck out six.

Perspective: Nostalgia is nice, but it’s reality that’s really important

As Nationals fans, we all remember the 19-31 start to 2019 that led to an incredible run that resulted in the team’s first World Series. The team is nearing that point of a 19-31 start and all within the month of May. Will history repeat itself? Hopefully so, but what happens if it doesn’t? Will we look back at the 2021 season with high hopes when, in reality, things were set up from the beginning to be extremely painful?

Granted, we haven’t seen the full Nationals team since the team left Spring Training back in late March, and the Nationals have had to deal with interesting to say the least situations, so maybe the rest of the season will be easy sledding from here, but will it be too late?

Was the team constructed in the right way? Was it the manager or the players? Or maybe a combination of both? The story of the 2021 season hasn’t been fully written, but the first few chapters are not worth reading. Let’s hope that the ending is better.

Series Preview: The Washington Nationals head to the Windy City for a four-game series

There is nothing like facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field; here is what to expect in this upcoming series against the Chicago Cubs.

After a weekend road trip and series win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Washington Nationals will head to the Windy City to face the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. All eyes will be on former Chicago Cubs left-handed pitcher Jon Lester and right-fielder Kyle Schwarber as they make their first return to Wrigley since signing with an opposing team. 

Click here to read the full series preview.

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