Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Healthy Lineup Not Translating into Wins


The Washington Nationals (57-53) fell to the Colorado Rockies (47-62) to the tune of 6-4 Sunday afternoon and they have now lost seven of their last ten games.  Having fallen out of first place and 1.5 games behind the New York Mets (59-52) in the NL East , the Nats are sputtering, and look helpless as they search for answers.

Aside from acquiring closer Jonathan Papelbon, Washington stood pat at the trade deadline, firmly believing that once their key pieces returned from injury, they would surge into the postseason. Anthony Rendon returned to the lineup on July 25th, while Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman joined him three days later. Denard Span remains the only National in the starting lineup still on the Disabled List. In the twelve games since the three of them hit the field together, the Nats are a measly 5-7.

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No one blames the Nats lack of success on Rendon, Zimmerman, or Werth’s returns to the lineup, although many fingers can be pointed at the offense as a whole. Averaging only 3.75 runs per game, situational hitting (or the lack thereof) has killed the Nats time and time again. In Sunday’s game against the Rockies, the Nationals entered the bottom of the ninth down two runs after Drew Storen allowed Colorado to break the tie in the eighth. Yunel Escobar and Rendon each reached base to leadoff the inning, putting the winning run in the batter’s box with no outs. All-Star Bryce Harper proceeded to fly out to center, but Zimmerman followed it up with a walk. Jayson Werth stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, but the Nats were not able to capitalize. Werth struck out swinging and Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game.

While starter Max Scherzer did not pitch very well and Storen allowed those aforementioned eighth inning runs, the offense was given every opportunity to put runs on the board and couldn’t follow through. Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado had three errors in the game, which is an anomaly for someone that is an extremely good defensive infielder.

The team combined to go 2-for14 (.124 batting average) with runners in scoring position in the loss and  stranded 11runners in the process. This was a very winable game that the Nats were not able to get ahold of, a disturbing trend that seems to be growing for this Washington ballclub. With 52 games left on the schedule, the claim, “there’s plenty of baseball left to be played” will not stand for long and time is starting to run out.

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