ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Ryne Nelson excels vs. Nationals, Diamondbacks win 3rd straight series

Jun 20, 2024, 12:43 PM | Updated: 2:35 pm

Ryne Nelson...

Ryne Nelson #19 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches to the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park on June 20, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Ryne Nelson is on a roll, as he allowed two runs through seven innings in a 5-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Nelson pushed through 21 outs with only 70 pitches, and he finished his outing retiring 13 of the last 14 hitters.

His performance pushed the Diamondbacks (37-38) to a third straight series victory, this one particularly important against a Nationals team (36-38) that they are neck-and-neck with in the wild card race. Arizona is 12-6 in June.

Ryne Nelson deals vs. Nationals

Nelson retired nine hitters in a row between solo home runs by Lane Thomas and Jesse Winker.

His effectiveness came at a different flavor than his stellar start against the White Sox last week. Nelson struck out a career-high eight batters in six innings, allowing one earned run for a victory against Chicago.

This time, Nelson only struck out two hitters with six whiffs. He induced nine ground ball outs, which has been much more prevalent with Nelson this season. His ground ball rate entering Thursday was 43%, a sizable increase from 37.5% last year.

Nelson also did not surrender a walk on Thursday, helping to keep the pitch count down.

“Watching the last couple games, they seemed very aggressive,” Nelson said. “We didn’t know if they were going to change that game plan or if they were going to stick to it. It was a lot about executing good pitches early in the counts and trying to get them to hit my pitch and get some quick outs and it ended up working.”

This has been a promising stretch for Arizona starting pitchers despite the numerous injuries:

– Nelson: 13.0 IP, 3 ER over last two starts

– Brandon Pfaadt: 12.1 IP, 4 ER over last two starts

– Slade Cecconi: 6.0 IP, 0 ER last start

– Jordan Montgomery: 10.2 IP, 3 ER over last two starts

Ryan Thompson and Paul Sewald locked it down with two scoreless innings in relief at Nationals Park. Sewald earned his first save since June 6 due to a lack of close games.

“We made early outs,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “These guys all attacked us this series. We have to get ready to hit.”

Jake McCarthy has been great against lefties

The offense struck in the third inning with three runs, a rally started by a Jake McCarthy single.

Tucker Barnhart delivered the first RBI with a single to left, and Randal Grichuk plated two with a double into the left-field corner.

McCarthy recorded three hits against left-handed starter MacKenzie Gore and scored a pair of runs. He also swiped two bases to up his total to 12 this season, one back of Corbin Carroll for the team lead despite 127 fewer plate appearances.

He became the first D-backs player since Carroll last September to pick up three hits and two steals in a game.

A notable feat of McCarthy’s season has been his success hitting left-on-left. He has had pretty even splits over the past couple seasons, but this season he is slashing .400/.471/.433 against southpaws.

He told the D-backs’ postgame show he is not focused on the handedness of the pitcher, saying they have to throw it over the same plate.

Christian Walker gifted the D-backs another insurance run with a solo shot in the ninth inning, his team-leading 17th of the season. Walker also made a web gem leaping catch to end the game.

D-backs injury report

Pitchers Zac Gallen (strained hamstring) and Miguel Castro (shoulder) are scheduled to throw simulated games early next week. Outfielder Alek Thomas (strained hamstring) will play in Arizona Complex League games Friday and Saturday as part of a rehab assignment. Corbin Carroll was out of the lineup for rest but entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning.

Diamondbacks have a big series next

The D-backs head to Citizens Bank Park for three games at the Philadelphia Phillies starting Friday.

Arizona has Montgomery, Tommy Henry and Cecconi slated as probables, respectively. Philadelphia’s probables are Taijuan Walker, Zack Wheeler and Cristopher Sanchez in order.

This will be the first meeting between the two sides since the National League Championship Series, when the D-backs won the pennant in Philadelphia.

First pitch Friday is at 3:40 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Ryne Nelson excels vs. Nationals, Diamondbacks win 3rd straight series