Washington Nationals: Gut punch in extras leaves season on life support

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MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 24: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals breaks his bat in the 10th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 24, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 24: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals breaks his bat in the 10th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 24, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the second inning on Tuesday. But the Milwaukee Brewers rallied and stole it 5-4 in the 10th.

In another seemingly must-win series for the Washington Nationals, they lost in heartbreaking fashion. The team jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings, only to lose in extra innings.

Adam Eaton hit a single in the first before he gave them breathing room on his three-run homer. It was Eaton’s third long ball of the year, but then a familiar theme reared its ugly head. The Nats seemed to take their foot off the gas.

The team is 12th in the majors in runs scored during the first six innings of a game. However, they’re fifth worst in scoring from the seventh inning onwards.

Related Story: Stick, twist or fold at the deadline?

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With the trade deadline approaching, it’s getting to a crisis point for the Washington Nationals. Should they tentatively buy, sell some of their expiring contracts, or hold pat and hope for a miracle?

The last option seems most likely, with a lot of their expiring contracts unlikely to bring in much value regardless. But we’ll have to see what Mike Rizzo does in the coming week.

Zimmerman comes out guns blazing

After a sub-par performance on Monday, Ryan Zimmerman had a great day with the bat on Tuesday. He ended up going 3 for 5 with the RBI to open the scoring in the first inning.

Manager Davey Martinez has been keen to get him back in rhythm quickly, by playing him the first two games of the series. While it paid off in this game, it’s hard to overlook what Matt Adams has done for the team.

A strict platoon would make the most sense, but it’s easy to forget Zimmerman was an All-Star last season. It’s going to be a tough balancing act for the Nats skipper moving forward.

Hellickson unravels in the fifth

Jeremy Hellickson has probably been the Nationals second best starter after Max Scherzer of late. He started off well, allowing just one run through four innings, but it unraveled in the fifth inning.

Junior Guerra ripped his second double of the game to lead off the inning and was driven in by Eric Thames. But then after a Lorenzo Cain hit, Christian Yelich went deep to make it a one-run game.

Once again, it was the third time through the order that stung Hellickson in this game. At the time, it seemed like the right decision to keep the right-hander going, after he cruised through the previous inning. We’ll see if Martinez tries to extend him again next time out against the Miami Marlins.

Next: Nats should not trade Bryce

The Washington Nationals season seems to be hanging by a thread in July. If they can’t win at least four of their next five, that could be the nail in the coffin.

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