Washington Nationals fall below .500 after sixth straight loss


For several weeks the Washington Nationals have been playing like a losing baseball team—with neither the attitude nor the performance necessary to keep a division lead or recover it once they lost it.

Now, their record finally matches their playing level on the field as the team fell below .500 after losing to the Giants Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. It was the sixth loss in a row for the Nationals, and undoubtedly a low point in their rapidly-deteriorating 2015 season.

The Nationals entered today’s game with the hopes of salvaging a win against the Giants, their longtime tormenters who had pounded them throughout the four-game series. Unfortunately for the Nationals, nothing went their way. The usually-dominant Joe Ross faltered, and the ever-inconsistent offense struggled mightily against Giants’ starter Madison Bumgarner. In the end, both offense and pitching were to blame as the Nationals were shutout by Bumgarner and the Giants, who completed the four-game sweep with a 5-0 victory.

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Early on, things were looking good for Ross and the Nationals. The rookie right-hander dominated during the first three innings of the game, retiring all nine batters he faced and striking out six. In the fourth inning, however, Ross hit a wall and the Giants took advantage of it.

Brandon Belt got the scoring started for the Giants with an RBI double to give San Francisco a 1-0 lead. The Giants stretched their lead to 3-0 on a two-run homer off the bat of Hunter Pence later in the frame. The Nationals fell behind 4-0 an inning later on an RBI double off the bat of Bumgarner—the Giants’ starting pitcher.

It was a forgettable performance for Ross, who allowed four runs on six hits in just four innings of work. While Ross struggled, Bumgarner turned in a spectacular pitching performance for the Giants.

The San Francisco southpaw pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits while striking out a whopping 14 batters and walking just one. The Nationals’ hitters were never able to do much of anything against Bumgarner, who breezed to his 14th win of the season.

For Bumgarner, Sunday’s start was memorable both for his dominance on the mound and his performance in the batter’s box. Having already driven in a run with a double in the fifth, Bumgarner made it a 5-0 game with a solo home run off of Casey Janssen in the eighth inning. It was the second hit of the night for Bumgarner—just one hit fewer than what the entire Nationals’ lineup was able to get off of him.

But by the time the Giants scored their fifth run, the game was already over. Bumgarner was cruising, and the lifeless Nationals once again just didn’t have it—whatever “it” is. Fortunately for the Nationals, the hardest part of their road trip is over and they won’t be back in California for the rest of the regular season. But after going 1-6 against the Dodgers and the Giants over the last week, the damage is done.

With the loss, the Nationals are now 58-59 on the season. The Mets lost their third game in a row today, so Washington remains 4.5 games out of first place in the NL East.

Next Game: The Nationals will look to turn their season around as they kick off a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night. Jordan Zimmermann gets the start for the Nationals, while David Hale takes the mound for the Rockies. First pitch is set for 8:40 p.m. ET.

Next: How Much Blame Should be Put On Matt Williams?

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