Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Doug Fister’s Struggles Continue In Loss To Pirates

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Jul 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals were feeling good coming off of a series win against the Mets where they increased their lead in the NL East to three games. While that lead stayed at three games after the Mets did not score a run against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers last night, the Nats did not get off to a great start in their series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Yunel Escobar was not in the lineup for the Nationals due to a hand/wrist injury, but the good news is that it doesn’t appear to be a serious after both his X-Rays and CT Scan came back negative. However, the offense last night was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and was getting overpowered by Francisco Liriano in the early stages of the game.

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With the Nats missing a lot of regulars in the lineup, it is up to the pitching to carry them through this difficult stretch. While the starters did that in the Mets series, Doug Fister was not able to shut down a Pirates offense that came into the night scoring the third most runs in the National League this month. His sinker continues to stay elevated and when that happens, good teams are going to take advantage of that.

One of the positives from this game was Nats’ shortstop Ian Desmond. He went 2-for-4, which included a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, which was the 100th home run of his career. In his last four games, Desmond is 7-for-13 with two home runs and four RBI’s.

Before Max Scherzer takes on Jeff Locke in tonight’s matchup (7:05 PM ET, MASN2 and MLB Network) and Aramis Ramirez likely makes his return to Pittsburgh at third base (traded from Milwaukee yesterday), let’s take a look at some of my takeaways from last night’s 7-3 Nationals loss:

Next: Time To Worry About Fister?