It is very common for fans to overreact to a loss in baseball, especially after waiting for months for the Washington Nationals to take the field at Nats Park. Opening Day brought about the beginning of Max Scherzer’s Nats career and it was a very strong outing. However, as fans saw at the end of the postseason a year ago, not hitting with runners in scoring position cost them against the Mets.
While this game was only one of 162 as opposed to the pressures of a postseason game, the Nationals were not able to get the big hits when it mattered against Bartolo Colon. Washington was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left four on base, all by catcher Wilson Ramos.
First off, you have to give Colon credit for keeping the Nationals hitters off balance and pounding the strike zone. He only had one three-ball count the entire game, which came in the sixth inning when Ryan Zimmerman drew the only walk for Washington in the game.
That being said, this game was the on-field example of missing key players in Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth. Plus, it was an example of the Nats struggles from last season with men in scoring position. In that category, they were 11th in batting average (.242), seventh in hits (333), and ninth in runs batted in (449). More importantly, with runners in scoring position and two outs, the Nats had the third fewest RBI’s in the NL (only the Padres and Braves drove in fewer runs) and has the third lowest batting average (.198).
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Those numbers were in the middle-to-bottom of the pack in the NL. If you examine the numbers more closely, Werth, Span, and Rendon were three of the top six on the team in batting average under those circumstances. With Werth expected to come back to the lineup pretty soon, the offense should eventually turn back to the team that was one of the better run scoring clubs in the NL last year.
That being said, April could be a month where Washington has to find a way to steal the 2-1, 3-1 type of ball games that they were on the short end of on Monday. Again, it is only one game and there is absolutely no need to panic. Washington did have their chances in this one, but couldn’t find a way to squeak it out. It will be interesting to see how they fare against their chances against the likes of Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, where the margin of error will continue to get smaller.