Washington Nationals have some serious questions to answer

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 25: Matt Duffy #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays slides in safely with a steal of second base as Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals waits for the throw in the second inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on June 25, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 25: Matt Duffy #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays slides in safely with a steal of second base as Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals waits for the throw in the second inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on June 25, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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Back-to-back shutouts at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays have left the Washington Nationals with some serious questions to answer as they move onto Philly.

It’s not a fun time to be a fan of the Washington Nationals. Shutout for the second game in a row, and eighth time this season, which is one more than the entire 2017 season.

There are some big questions about why this team suddenly can no longer seem to consistently hit. Is it manager Davey Martinez? Hitting coach Kevin Long? Players getting bad luck?

Probably a combination of all of these factors. But at some point, players who can hit a lot better than they are, need to start hitting.

They are second last in the National League in OPS, and last in ISO (Isolated Power) during the month of June. This means that even though they are middle of the road in average, they don’t do much damage with extra base hits. And when you struggle to string hits together, hitting for extra bases become even more important.

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It’s one thing to have up and coming ace Blake Snell have a no-hit bid, like Monday night. You can let that slide. But when Nathan Eovaldi is dominating the lineup to the tune of one hit in six innings, questions need to be asked.

There is no magic formula for this, Martinez is going to have to experiment to find the solution. Maybe hitting Trea Turner atop the lineup to let him run free, and Adam Eaton lower down while he’s struggling lately.

Something has got to change to give the team a jolt, and fast.

Romo causes benches to clear

Although the Nationals didn’t show too much fight with the bat, they were ready to show literal fight. Sergio Romo was called upon to get the final two outs of the game. And when he did, he chirped at Michael Taylor, which the Nats bench rightly took objection to.

All this stemmed from Taylor stealing third base off of Romo in the sixth inning of a seven-run game. The Rays pitcher took objection to this, deemed it as “disrespect” that Taylor would do this with such a lead.

It was one thing to have a passionate celebration, but seeking out Taylor to mouth off was crossing the line. Especially when the scenario of the stolen base was hardly running the score up. Taylor did well to handle the adversity, and took the high-road after the game. Kudos.

Bryce Harper stays locked in

One of the very few positives to come out of the game was Bryce Harper continuing the nice stretch that’s he’s on. He went 1 for 2 on Tuesday, with a couple of walks to boot.

It is an extremely small sample size, but over his last eight games, he’s 7 for 24, good for a .291 average. But more importantly, he’s had eight walks compared to five strikeouts.

Throughout his career, we know the Nats right-fielder is at his very best when he’s taking his walks. We saw it at the start of this year when he walked 38 times in March and April. Hopefully, he can keep this up and the rest of the bats will give him the opportunity to be productive again.

Next: Trea a franchise cornerstone?

The Washington Nationals now have a day off on Wednesday, then start a four-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies. They can’t afford to keep stumbling, or they risk digging too deep a hole to climb out of.

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