Washington Nationals: Missed opportunities squander Jeremey Hellickson’s outing

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22: Jeremy Hellickson
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22: Jeremy Hellickson /

Jeremy Hellickson impressed in his second start for the Washington Nationals, but missed opportunities made it all for naught, as they lost 4-3 to the Dodgers.

After splitting the first two games of the series, the Washington Nationals tasked Jeremy Hellickson with starting the rubber match. He impressed, continuing the trend of stellar pitching set by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, but it was not enough to clinch the series.

Hellickson dominated his way through five scoreless innings, retiring 14 Dodgers in a row at one point, but hit a wall in the sixth. His pitch count was into the eighties, which was nearing his 90-pitch limit, and each Dodger had seen him twice.

The sixth got off to a solid start with a pop-out to first, but two doubles and a walk ended Hellickson’s night. Dave Martinez called upon Sammy Solis with the tying run at second and one out.

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Unfortunately, Solis promptly allowed a game-tying double and another walk. After two batters, Trevor Gott was called upon to limit the damage. He did just that, striking out Yasiel Puig and Chase Utley, but surrendered the game-winning run in the seventh.

While the Nats ultimately lost the game, there were a couple positives.

Michael Taylor continued to improve, going 3-for-3 with two runs, a walk, and two stolen bases. He was just a triple short of the cycle and is now tied with Trea Turner atop the National League stolen base leaderboard.

Ryan Zimmerman also stayed hot with a double and a run scored.

Turner and Andrew Stevenson, on the other hand, had nights to forget. Turner went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and three runners left on base.

The worst part of Turner’s poor night was the untimeliness of his strikeouts. He struck out looking in the seventh with the tying run at third and struck out looking again in the ninth with the tying run on second.

Stevenson also had a regrettable performance. After entering the game on a double switch, he came through with a big hit in the seventh. Then, he attempted to stretch his single into a double and was thrown out at second.

Instead of having runners at the corners and no outs, the Nats had a runner at third and one out. It does not seem like much of a difference, but it drastically changed the inning and possibly the game.

Then, Stevenson failed to execute a sacrifice bunt in the ninth. The Nats had runners at first and second with no outs, so a bunt would bring the tying run to third for the top of the lineup. Unfortunately, Stevenson could not get the bunt down and eventually struck out.

The Nats ultimately lost the series, but it was encouraging. Zimmerman and Taylor are beginning to heat up and the starting rotation has been excellent. When Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon, and Daniel Murphy return, the offense will improve.

Next: Nats' bullpen must expand to survive

Until then, the Nats will have to keep grinding.