Washington Nationals: Rain dampens spirits with poor offensive showing

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: The tarp covers the field as the game into a rain daly after the fourth inning during a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on June 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: The tarp covers the field as the game into a rain daly after the fourth inning during a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on June 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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After a two-hour rain delay, the Washington Nationals bats came out damp and couldn’t put up much of a fight against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

In what is becoming a worrying trend for the Washington Nationals, they were shutout on a depressing Wednesday night. The Baltimore Orioles managed to get just enough run support to squeeze out a 3-0 win.

It’s the fourth time they’ve been shutout in the past nine games, something that only happened seven times in 2017. With multiple players slumping and shaking off the rust, it’s a rough period for the Nats.

The only player who could muster more than the one hit on the night was Anthony Rendon. He went 2 for 3 but Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy behind him went a combined 0 for 7.

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They’ve scored the second fewest runs in the National League during June, ahead of only the New York Mets. Perhaps not on Thursday, but a shake-up is needed with two important series against the Philadelphia Phillies coming up.

Maybe shifting around some struggling hitters could help, as we’ve seen with Trea Turner in the sixth spot. Or bumping Harper down a spot or two to take the pressure off him is option as well. They need a jolt, badly.

Long balls still biting Gio

For the fourth start in a row, Gio Gonzalez was stung by the home run ball. His ERA in that time is 7.71 and finally seems to be paying for allowing too many baserunners.

At the end of May, Gonzalez had a high 1.29 WHIP but a mere 2.10 ERA and had a chance at an All-Star appearance. But now his season is heading south in a hurry.

With Stephen Strasburg out injured, it’s more important than ever that Gonzalez steps up. But recent results don’t lend to that, as the ball begins to fly in the summer months.

The mysterious case of Shawn Kelley

After the lengthy rain delay, Davey Martinez opted to send Shawn Kelley out to start the fifth inning. He repaid the faith to start off with, retiring the first three hitters he faced on strikes.

But then things got weird in the bottom half of the inning when Martinez sent Kelley to hit for himself with Turner on base. As the tying run, it certainly raised eyebrows to send him out there rather than pinch hit.

But Kelley wasn’t done there, for just the second time this season he was asked to go more than one inning. After three hard-hit balls to the outfield, the O’s tacked on another run.

It was a questionable decision to use Kelley in that way. Although the bats fell quiet, it could’ve been the final nail in the coffin for a team that didn’t have a spring in its step.

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Now the Washington Nationals turn the ball over to Max Scherzer who is tasked with turning things around. In the grand scheme of things, if they can take five of six from the O’s on the season, it’s a positive outcome.