Washington Nationals: The consistently inconsistent offense strikes again

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 30: Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals slides in safely at third base after an error by the Philadelphia Phillies in the top of the second inning at Citizens Bank Park on June 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 30: Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals slides in safely at third base after an error by the Philadelphia Phillies in the top of the second inning at Citizens Bank Park on June 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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One night after scoring 17 runs, it was business as usual for the Washington Nationals. They could only muster up two scores in a disappointing loss.

Consistently inconsistent. Quite frankly, I’m bored of using that phrase now, but it really is the one that sums the Washington Nationals up right now.

They put up 17 scores, on 18 hits and smacked seven home runs. It should have been an offensive turning point. But instead, despite outhitting the Philadelphia Phillies, they could only score two runs.

The only hit with runners in scoring position they got was a second-inning double from Spencer Kieboom. All told, the team went 1 for 8 with RISP, and that was magnified in the eighth inning.

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After a Trea Turner single and Bryce Harper walk, it was an opportune moment for the Nationals to tie or take the lead. But Anthony Rendon lined out, Juan Soto popped up and Mark Reynolds grounded out.

You’d have put decent money on them scoring then, especially with their two hottest hitters due in Rendon and Soto. Which is what makes the inconsistency even more bizarre.

Although all season we’ve been saying it’ll turn around, we’re now one game away from the official halfway point. It should still turn, but there needs to be some urgency shown to turn it around.

Daniel Murphy not used in key spot

Davey Martinez seemingly had Daniel Murphy available to pinch hit. However, after the game, he explained that he chose not to use him in the eighth in order to not have him play the field. Instead, he saved him for the ninth where he doubled with two outs.

It’s a tough decision to defend if he was able to hit, given how big the spot was in the eighth, but there is at least some logic behind it. Of greater concern than the decision though, is Murphy’s health.

Reynolds has been a huge disappointment at the plate of late, so there has to be a concern if Murphy isn’t able to spell him at first base. The last thing this team needs is a hitter like Murphy going back on the DL, but it may be needed to get him fully right again.

Anthony Rendon sends a baseball into orbit

Among the few offensive bright spots on Saturday, Rendon appeared to absolutely destroy a baseball. In the top of the sixth, he hit one 471 feet into the upper deck to narrow the deficit to one run. Enjoy the bomb in all of its glory.

He rounds out June hitting .316 with a team-leading 18 RBI and five long balls. Once again, he’s putting up All-Star numbers but will struggle to make it with the NL depth at third base.

He’s third among NL qualifiers at third base in OPS, and is second in FanGraphs Defensive Rating, ahead of Nolan Arenado. After a slow start, he might be the team’s most consistent hitter the rest of the way, and we look forward to him anchoring the lineup.

Next: Grading the Nats Bats

Now the Washington Nationals desperately want to sneak a split behind Gio Gonzalez. He’s coming off his worst outing of the season, but he’ll face Jake Arrieta who isn’t doing a huge amount better right now.

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