Washington Nationals continue to fall further out of contention

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 02: Daniel Murphy #20 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park on July 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 02: Daniel Murphy #20 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park on July 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals miserable stretch gets longer and longer. They dropped the series opener to the Boston Red Sox 4-3, despite hitting three home runs.

It was another miserable evening for the Washington Nationals. Although the Boston Red Sox, with the best record in baseball, were in town, Max Scherzer was on the mound.

But things went awry early on, as with runners on second and third and two outs, Jackie Bradley was intentionally walked. Scherzer then proceeded to serve up a bases-clearing double to opposite number Rick Porcello.

The Red Sox would not relinquish the lead. Despite three homers from the Nats, they were all solo shots, and it’s been a theme for them this year.

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65 percent of the team’s long balls have come with the bases empty, compared to major league average which is 60 percent. And this stems from the fifth worst batting average with the bases empty at .230 with the average in MLB at .239 with nobody on.

With an 8-16 record in one-run games, not getting enough runners on to score on homers could swing that in a big way. Now it’s up to the Nationals’ lesser pitchers to try and salvage a win in the remaining two games.

Murphy goes yard but runs into an out

One big positive from the game was Daniel Murphy managing to hit his first home run of the season. But he bizarrely ran into an out on the bases in the second inning.

After he singled, Wilmer Difo stepped in and drilled a ground ball through the infield. But Murphy attempted to go from first to third with his gimpy run and was promptly thrown out by Mookie Betts.

It was a questionable decision for anyone to run on Betts who is one of the best right fielders in the game. Let alone for Murphy with his running issues this year. Who knows how the game would’ve played out had he stayed at second, but in hindsight, it seems like an ill-conceived move.

Bryce Harper still slowly turning things around

Another day, another Bryce Harper solid game, as he went deep in the eighth inning to bring the Nats within one. And although the batting average is still way below expectations, he’s slowly getting there.

Over the last eight games, he has a remarkable 1.126 OPS, which is up there with the elite. The batting average is a nice .269, but with 10 walks he’s still getting on base enough to be productive.

Now if the Nats can get more runners on ahead of him to increase the damage, things could turn. Hitting fifth in the order, with the teams best hitters ahead of him, he should get plenty once things even out.

Next: Grading the Nats Bats

Tanner Roark has the tough task of containing the deadly Red Sox offense on Tuesday night. He’ll face Brian Johnson, who’s making just his third start of the season for Boston.

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