The Washington Nationals were held scoreless once again, as the Philadelphia Phillies won Thursday’s game by a score of 3-0 and swept the series.
The good news for the Washington Nationals is that Tanner Roark didn’t show any ill effects from his 15-strikeout, 121-pitch performance against the Minnesota Twins in his last outing. Roark shutout the Phillies for seven innings and surrendered a meager two hits. The right-hander also fanned six batters and issued only two free passes. He had all of the pitches in his repertoire working to baffle the Phillies’ hitters.
The bad news is that he didn’t receive any run support. This was an ongoing theme for the Nats’ starters in this series, as the offense scored a total of three runs during the three-game series. They were shutout in the final two games of the series and have been held scoreless for 22 consecutive innings.
This was a special series for the Phillies, as they accomplished something that hasn’t taken place since 2009.
The Washington Nationals have one of the best players in MLB with outfielder Bryce Harper, but the past three games were a perfect example that he can’t do it alone. The Phillies did a phenomenal job of containing the superstar. Harper was pitched around constantly, and the number of pitches that he could some severe damage on were few and far between.
In the game yesterday, Harper had a chance to break the scoreless streak as the bases were loaded with two outs in the eighth inning, but he struck out swinging on three consecutive breaking pitches to end the inning.
It was out of character for the reigning NL MVP, as for most of the first month, Harper has worked the worked count and managed to extend at-bats, by fouling off tough pitches. He might have been frustrated and saw this as an opportunity to give his club the lead with one mighty swing.
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The Nats scoring drought can also be attributed to other players not producing. Ryan Zimmerman had two hits in the series, and that’s simply not good enough. Zimmerman has a crucial role in the lineup, as he steps to the plate after Harper. If Zimmerman is swinging poorly, then opposing teams no reason to give Harper anything to swing at.
It would be criminal to single out Zimmerman as the only individual struggling for the Nats. Jayson Werth is hitting .185; Danny Espinosa has a .172 average; Michael Taylor is hitting at a .192 clip and Anthony Rendon is at .229.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy has a .370 batting average and is the only player besides Harper that’s hitting over .300. Murphy narrowly missed two home runs during Thursday’s contest, as the inclement weather played a part in this. That being said, he has been making consistent contact since the season started.
Murphy is making a strong case to move up in the lineup. Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker should consider placing him either second in the lineup or after Harper. The opposition might be less likely to walk Harper if someone is already on base when he comes to bat.
The other option to create a spark is promoting shortstop Trea Turner. Turner is tearing the cover off the baseball at Triple-A Syracuse, as indicated by his .342 average and .916 OPS in 73 at-bats.The lineup is in desperate need of a spark, and maybe Turner can provide a jolt.