Harper and Wieters homer; MAT scores two; Difo/Zim strand 12 runners

The photo above seems like a daily occurrence of frustration. A promising start to this game ends like a gut punch with Ryan Zimmerman weakly grounding out to end the game and stranding Bryce Harper in a 6-to-5 loss. Rockies manager Bud Black elected to do a pitch-around of Bryce Harper as  the tying run and take their chances with Zimmerman as the potential winning run with his All-Star closer, Wade Davis, on the mound. 

The Nationals earned ten walks (none intentional) and one hit-by-pitch to add to 5 hits which adds up to 16 baserunners and the Nationals had so many opportunities in this game and took themselves off the basepaths twice with a baserunning blunder by Bryce Harper and a Matt Wieters caught stealing. In addition Wilmer Difo stranded 7 runners and Ryan Zimmerman stranded 5 runners on-base. The Zimmerman left-on-base (LOB) stat now has ratcheted up to 37 runners stranded on the season — yet, he is still batting cleanup. Zimmerman leads the team with RISP opportunities with 19 and he has only had two hits so far giving him a .105 batting average in those spots.

You had some offense in the game with home runs from both Bryce Harper and Matt Wieters and a nice 2-for-3 game from Michael Taylor where he scored the tying run in the 8th inning after he stole 3rd base and scored on a wild pitch, and it all feels wasted in a loss that should not have happened.

“It wasn’t good,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We should have won some more games. The effort was there. Guys are starting to swing the bats better. We had opportunities to put this team away early today, and we couldn’t do that.”

One of the most impactful plays of the game was a Charlie Blackmon double down the line with two outs and two men on base. Ryan Zimmerman was in a position to field it glove side and kind of dove over it. That led to two runs scoring then Blackmon scored moments later on a single. The Nationals were ahead 3-to-1 before Blackmon’s double.

“Broken bat, you could hear it. He didn’t hit it all that hard,” the Rockies TV announcer said about the ball that got past Zimmerman.

Unfortunately for Stephen Strasburg, he got no decision in this game, and while he pitched well he was bested by a broken bat double by Charlie Blackmon. You make a good pitch, and you hope to get your way out of the inning. It was not meant to be.

It was a bizarre game as the Nationals scored 3-runs on a passed ball, catcher error, and later in the game on a wild pitch. Michael Taylor scored two runs on the Rockies gaffes. In addition to those 3-runs, the Nationals scored their other two runs on solo home runs. There were so many opportunities to blow the game open early. There also seemed an opportunity to put some more stress on the Rockies defense early as they played without Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado who was suspended. The bunt to 3rd base seemed to be open for business — but it never happened.

The Nationals just did not take advantage of the many opportunities that appeared to be there.

The Nationals officially named Jeremy Hellickson as the starter tomorrow which will require a 40-man spot and a move off the active roster. Presumably, A.J. Cole will move to the bullpen and a reliever will either be DFA or optioned to Triple-A. The obvious candidates are Shawn Kelley who continues to struggle or Trevor Gott who has an option and can be sent to Triple-A. If Gott is moved, then the Nationals will have to find a 40-man spot also. That can be accomplished by a minor leaguer getting DFA or moving someone like Victor Robles to the 60-day DL.

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