Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Will Simmons Slide Spark Nats?
By Ricky Keeler
Last night’s 8-4 loss by the Washington Nationals to the Atlanta Braves fell into the common theme of the team’s first 20 games. When you are putting up the same amount of runs as errors, you are not going to win many games. With Washington now losers of six straight and eight back of the New York Mets in the NL East (who they play on Thursday to start a 4-game series), the time for patience continues to fade with each game as the team is now in last place in the division.
Doug Fister was better than he was last time against St. Louis, but he continues to leave too many up pitches in the game. He held Atlanta to two runs in the first five innings. However, in the sixth inning, Fister left a two-seamer up in the zone to Kelly Johnson. Johnson took advantage of that mistake and hit it over the wall in right center field for a two-run homer to make it 4-1.
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Let’s rewind it back a bit to the bottom of the fifth. After Fister got the first two outs of the inning, he gives up a single to Andrelton Simmons that bounces off the glove of Ian Desmond, who made yet another error later in the game, his 9th of the season.
Fister would then do something that’s uncharacteristic of him and commit one of two errors he had in the game, a bad pickoff throw that went into right field. Simmons would slide into third base and hit Yunel Escobar in the hand with his cleat. Escobar is okay, but is sore and has cuts on his hand, which could cause him to miss a couple of games.
After the game, Washington had some comments on Simmons, who was later hit by Rafael Martin in the bottom of the seventh inning, leading to yet another Braves run:
While Washington would rally in the eighth inning for two runs, they were hardly able to generate any huge scoring opportunities against manager Eric Stults. I was watching the game on ESPN and Mark Mulder, who was in the booth, made an interesting observation about Jayson Werth.
After Werth struck out swinging on a pitch that nearly hit him in the eighth inning, he slouched back to the dugout. While Mulder didn’t want him to jog, he made a point that made a ton of sense. Werth is one of the leaders in the clubhouse and while he is off to a bad start, Washington feeds off his body language, which isn’t very good right now.
Now, you have to wonder if two things might spark the Nats going forward. One of them is can they feed off that slide by Simmons and use that energy to create more of a chip on their shoulder? The second one is the call-up of A.J.Cole, who will make the start tomorrow night against Julio Teheran. Cole will be getting the start because Max Scherzer will be out due to a jammed thumb. He is one of the top prospects in the Nationals organization and is off to a great start at triple-A Syracuse.
In three starts, he has a 2.40 ERA, has 10 strikeouts, and only one walk. It’s a tall order to ask Cole to outduel Teheran, but can he give the Nationals a spark due to his call up?
Who knows how Matt Williams is handling this in the clubhouse, but one thing is for sure, the lack of concentration on defense needs to end. Otherwise, this could be a long season in the Nation’s Capital.