Wash, rinse, repeat. Missed opportunities, questionable decisions, blah blah blah

The Nationals lost another one-run game falling to 11-19 in those outcomes this season. This one particularly stings because Jeremy Hellickson was throwing a no-hitter when he was removed from the game at 5 2/3 innings, and he handed over bases loaded to Sammy Solis after Hellickson walked three-in-a-row. The opportunities were there early and often for the Washington Nationals, but the key hits scored only one run each. The Nationals had 9 hits, 1 HBP,  plus 2 walks and only scored 2 runs. It is the same old story of missed opportunities and questionable managing/coaching. 

“We’ve just got to get better, fundamentally better,” manager Davey Martinez said. “That’s the key. We can’t make those little mistakes. Because when you’re playing a team that’s good, it’s gonna cost you. And it did today.”

Some would say that lineup formation does not matter but “who” is in your lineup should. Dave Martinez went with Ryan Zimmerman who was a career 0-15 against the Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks and now 0-18 after Zimmerman’s 0-3 while stranding 4-runners before he was pulled early in the game. Conversely, Mark Reynolds is a career .800 hitter against Hendricks with 2-walks in 7 plate appearances. Who do you choose? Dave Martinez is the manager and chose to go with Zimmerman who has been hitting well recently and especially against left-handed pitchers (Hendricks is right-handed).

Add to it that manager Dave Martinez made some questionable decisions in-game plus a few from his first base coach because Juan Soto was picked-off twice in this game.

  1. In the 6th inning, no righty was warming when Hellickson was struggling with Anthony Rizzo. Hellickson stayed in to face Javier Baez (RH) and Ben Zobrist (SH) before he was pulled
  2. Hellickson was double-switched out of the game and instead of bringing in Difo for 2nd base and moving Murphy to 1st base, Davey went to Matt Adams for 1st base. With bases loaded Jason Heyward lined a ball a couple feet from Murphy at 2nd base that a good second baseman hopefully reacts too. Hard to say but it was a move not made.
  3. With runners on 2nd and 1st in the 8th inning, Martinez put in Mark Reynolds with no outs instead of bunting with Wilmer Difo.
  4. Juan Soto was picked-off with 2 on and no outs. Where was his 1st base coach keeping him close so the catcher couldn’t throw behind him?

Managers will always get questioned when they lose, but if the batters who Martinez penciled in the lineup executed and the relievers did their job — you are celebrating a win. Hellickson walked 4 batters, Solis gave up a 2-out hit to the lefty Heyward, and Greg Holland walked in the winning run.

Kudos to Koda Glover who entered with bases loaded and 1-out and retired the next 2-batters quickly. Considering Hellickson had a no-hitter, he deserved a better fate.

“He was done,” Martinez  said about Hellickson. “He was pitching a no-hitter. It was tough to take him out, but I knew.”

This was certainly a team loss and a tough loss with as well as Jeremy Hellickson pitched. He actually would have been through the 6th inning with a shutout if a foul that was tipped was secured by his catcher. It wasn’t and Anthony Rizzo worked a 13-pitch walk. It just seems par for the course this season, but also very reminiscent of last year’s NLDS with spoiled no-hitters. Luck did not swing the Nationals way.

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