The Nationals reached a new low in offensive futility in Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. The team had three golden opportunities to break the game open and get Stephen Strasburg some run support, and all three times the Nats hitters could not provide the situational hit necessary to put runs on the board. The result was a 2-0 loss.
Stephen Strasburg pitched well enough to get the win in his first game back from the DL. He was a little rusty, walking more batters than usual. The Tribe only scored one run off Strasburg in his five innings pitched, and that run was the result of a throwing error by catcher Jhonatan Solano. In the fourth inning, Strasburg walked Jason Kipnis, who then attempted to steal second. Solano’s throw to second was low and skipped out into center field, getting Kipnis to third. Carlos Santana lifted a fly ball to center field to plate Kipnis and score the only Indians run off Stephen.
The Nationals, on the other hand, were unable to hit that fly ball to the outfield when they had a runner on third with less than two outs–in three different innings. The Nationals had their opportunities in this game off Indians starter Corey Kluber. But as often has happened to the Nats this year, they allowed a starting pitcher to befuddle them when they needed to come through with a hit. They let strikes go by, and swung at balls. They hit into double plays, they struck out with runners on.
In the fourth inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with no outs due to a throwing error by third baseman John McDonald. Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond all struck out to end the inning. In the sixth the team had runners on the corners with no one out, but Ryan Zimmerman struck out (on what was ball four in a full count) and LaRoche grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The most painful inning to watch was the seventh, when the Nats loaded the bases with no one out. Solano hit a line drive to first, which was caught by Mark Reynolds, who doubled off Steve Lombardozzi to get two outs in two seconds. Roger Bernadina grounded out to end the inning.
The Indians scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Craig Stammen, but they didn’t need it. The Nats went quietly in the top of the ninth
Next Game: The Nationals take their current road trip to Philadelphia, to start a series with the Phillies. In an much anticipated game for Nats fans, Dan Haren (4-8, 5.70 ERA) matches up against former Nats pitcher John Lannan (0-1, 6.14 ERA) who is making his first start after an extended time on the DL due to a quadriceps injury. Both teams have been mired in offensive futility lately, so it will be interesting to see if either team can break out of their scoring slumps during these games.