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Things are not adding up for the Nationals right now

Aug 6, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

Here is the current state of the Nationals, summed up in one inning of baseball played Tuesday night during a 6-1 loss to the Mets:

They scored a run without producing a hit. Then their first hit of the game actually prevented a run from scoring.

Something’s just not adding up at the moment for a Nationals club that at times looks like the most-dominant team in the National League yet lately has been finding creative and agonizing ways to lose ballgames, and as a result just can’t create much space between itself and the Braves in the NL East.

“I think the way the season’s gone, the way it’s happened with injuries and guys being banged up all year, I think we’re in a pretty good spot,” Jayson Werth said. “We’re finally healthy, and I think we’re playing pretty good baseball. I think the distance will come in time.

“I feel like we’re going to go on a run here at some point, too. I like where we’re at. I like the way we’re playing night-in and night-out. We’ve been pitching good, the defense has been good, the hitting’s been good for the most part. The last couple nights we haven’t been able to get the big hit. But all in all, I feel like we’re in a good spot.”

That may prove to be the case, but at the moment, the Nationals remain in first place in the NL East more a result of the Braves’ struggles — they carried a 6-game losing streak into last night’s late game against Felix Hernandez in Seattle — than as a result of their own consistently impressive play.

They’ve now lost 8-of-13 games since Ryan Zimmerman suffered a serious hamstring strain in Colorado, and their lineup appears to be suffering for it. Though they’ve averaged 12 men on base in each of those 13 games, they’ve scored an average of only 3.5 runs. (Throw out Saturday’s 11-run explosion against the Phillies and that number drops to 2.9.)

The opportunities certainly were there for the taking Tuesday against Zack Wheeler and the Mets. Wheeler put seven men on base during a 10-batter stretch in the second and third innings, yet the only run he surrendered came via a wild pitch (following three walks).

And the hit that actually prevented a run from scoring? It came off Jose Lobaton‘s bat, with runners on second and third and one out in the second. Trouble is, it struck teammate Asdrubal Cabrera as he tried to advance from second to third. By rule, Cabrera was out, Lobaton was awarded a single and Ian Desmond had to return to third base. Had Cabrera avoided contact, the groundout would’ve scored Desmond. Instead, the Nats got nothing out of it.

“I didn’t see that ball coming towards me,” Cabrera said. “He hit it hard enough that I didn’t even know. I thought it was right to my left.”

That was probably the low point of the night, though it was hardly the Nationals’ only squandered opportunity at the plate. They also twice hit into double plays with two on and nobody out (Werth and pinch-hitter Steven Souza Jr. were the culprits), saw Werth thrown out at the plate on Adam LaRoche‘s sixth-inning single and saw Desmond strand six men on base via two comebackers and a strikeout.

“There’s no common thread,” manager Matt Williams insisted. “There’s no way to say: ‘OK, this is because, this is why.’ No, I mean, I haven’t seen a guy get hit with a batted ball in a while. He tried to skip over it. The ball actually was hit pretty hard by Loby and it skipped off the grass and it just nicked him. It happens sometimes. It seems like it’s going the wrong way the last couple of days, but we can turn that around tomorrow.”

The Nationals will give it another shot Wednesday night. They’ve got two more games with the Mets before heading to Atlanta for a crucial weekend series, hoping they can create enough cushion between themselves and the Braves to ensure they leave town in first place no matter the result.

“We’re pretty much aware of everything,” Werth said. “We know what’s going on around here. I feel like we’re in control of our game and where we’re at in the season. I just feel like at some point we’re going to go on a roll and rattle off some wins. We’ve got some division games coming up. August-September is really the time to go on a roll if you’re going to do it. I feel like we’re poised to finish this thing off, but we’ve got to continue to play good.”

  1. dogfromduckhunt - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Things tend to not add up when you have the two most over-hyped prospects in the history of the game bust out on you.

    • no14mike - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      Two? Yeah I’ll give you Bryce Harper, but Strasburg? lol. If you don’t look at his record, his numbers are great. He leads the NL in strikeouts. Relax on Strasburg.

      • dogfromduckhunt - Aug 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        Okay, let’s forget he’s a below .500 pitcher the last two seasons. Shall we move to the fact that he doesn’t even have a top 35 ERA in baseball? Or is that off limits too? Or how about not even a top 75 WAR amongst pitchers? Which “great” stat are we allowed to talk about, just K’s? He has been a bust for what he was billed to be.

  2. natstowngreg - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Right on point, Mark. I get that feeling about this team sometimes. Like the last two games. It’s frustrating, knowing the talent is there, but the production is not. Luckily, the Braves have been incapable of taking advantage.

    Can’t expect a run like 2013’s (which started in early August). However, unlike last season, the Nats haven’t dug themselves a hole. Think it still comes down to beating the Braves.

    BTW, I see the Nats are scheduled for Sunday Night Baseball, for a change.

  3. echech88 - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Wait, what? But Gatorade and Under Armour had me convinced the Nationals have the best player in baseball

  4. goodellisruiningtheleague - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    DC Sports… LOL

  5. coffeeblack95616 - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    This all makes sense. It’s Washington. What else would we expect from the geographical source of all our stupid political strife?

  6. yahmule - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    The Nationals might not be able to add, but at least they can spell.

    Get your Nolan Arendo collector cups, Rockies fans!

    http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/8/5/5972963/rockies-spell-check-nolan-arenado-collector-cups

    Man, I can’t wait for Todd Hilton’s retirement ceremony!

    • govtminion - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      At scenic Cuurs Feeld?

    • nolanwiffle - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      They can spell now. However, only five short years ago, both Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman took the field wearing jerseys that read “Natinals”. So there’s that.

  7. sportsdrenched - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    So, are we going to be seeing more Comcast beat writers appear here?

    • natstowngreg - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      Sure. Gotta get that Comcast brand all over the NBC subsidiary’s platforms.

      Comcast occasionally screws up my cable/Internet service. Comcast is headquartered in Philly. Coincidence? Hmmmm,…

  8. lphboston - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Here’s the breakdown:

    10 percent — Injuries
    20 percent — Inability to hit with runners on base
    10 percent — Too many strikeouts (Desmond/Espinosa/Harper)
    20 percent — Laid-back attitude (carryover from Davey Johnson)
    20 percent — Inability to beat Braves
    10 percent — Inability to beat decent pitching
    10 percent — Who knows?

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