The Washington Nationals kicked off their biggest homestand of the season Thursday night with a deflating 5-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
For the Washington Nationals, Thursday night felt eerily similar to late-summer nights in 2014, 2016, and 2017. A quick game, not much offense on the home side, and no real sense of urgency.
A trend that was fine in the before years mentioned when Washington was cruising their way to an N.L. East title, but this season the script is completely flipped. In this 11-game homestand, the Nationals are fighting for their lives, but judging by last night’s performance you would think the complete opposite.
Washington faced an Arizona Diamondbacks team who had to play a night game Wednesday before traveling to D.C. immediately after, while the Nationals sat at home and rested up for the big homestand ahead. Despite the rest, the Diamondbacks looked like the team who was ready to go, and from the first pitch, the Nationals seemed out of the fight.
You can put this on coaching, the players, or whoever you want for that matter, but championship teams don’t come into the biggest homestand of their season and lay an egg. You are going to get beat at times everyone knows that, but at the pinnacle of their 2019 season the Nationals came out flat as we have seen them.
Now things happen in baseball, it is an extremely long season and you are going to have bad nights. Diamondbacks’ starter Zack Greinke was dominant last night and kept Washington off balance through seven outstanding innings. Nationals’ starter Eric Fedde has been very solid all year, but just did not have great command and was unable to hold down a very good offensive team giving up five runs.
These things happen throughout the season, but for the Nationals, they can’t afford to have them happen now. After having an off day to come into 11 days that will decide their ultimate 2019 fate, to come out with a flat and uninspiring performance is alarming, to say the least.
After losing the first game of a series, which Washington has now done almost every series this season, they put themselves in a hole once again. These next 10 games will make or break the Nationals’ season, there is no denying that.
Since returning to D.C. in 2005 the Washington Nationals have never been in a true postseason race, and these next 10 days are going to be the closest they have been. Washington has cruised to the playoffs all four times they have qualified, but this year is different. The Nationals season is on life support, will they pull the plug, or bounce back and get off the mat and put up a fight?