There is nothing to smile about as the Nationals fall to a season’s low mark of 3 games below .500 with this loss today. Another game the team could not push across one more run to win it when they had chances. Sometimes you are as bad as you look and have earned your record. Yes, the starting pitching has been great but this is the 11th game this team has scored 3-or-fewer runs this season.
“You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose,” Lou Holtz once said.
Manager Dave Martinez calls it the little things, and it seems that complacency has set in and the team has taken on the personality of their manager where they believe they are better than they are and play like there is no urgency. This seems to be the second-coming of Manny Acta who managed that way. You cannot keep excusing the bad plays and trotting out the same players who are not performing.
The starting pitching once again did their job. Stephen Strasburg matched what Max Scherzer accomplished last night with 2 runs over 7 innings, and it just seems to be the way things have gone lately with good pitching either coupled with little run support or poor defense.
“It’s tough on everybody, but it’s a team game,” Strasburg said. “You just have to stay with your guys, and there are going to be highs and lows. It’s obviously a low point now. You have to flush it and show up ready to play tomorrow. We have a lot of veteran guys who know it’s a long season. The clubhouse has been perfectly fine to be honest.”
Maybe Strasburg is right that it’s just baseball. Juan Soto made some adjustments and cracked a two-run home run into the upper deck that tied the game, but that was all of the offense in the first 9 innings which pushed the 2-2 game into extra innings and the Nats got blown out 8-3.
There was some awful luck today — no doubt and that is baseball. The team put 23 balls in play and 2 of them were home runs. Unfortunately Howie Kendrick‘s home run was in the 10th inning when the game turned to an 8-2 deficit but the BABIP was .143 today for a team whose BABIP was .322 before this game. There were several balls squared up that turned into outs. One of those was a 110 mph screamer off the bat of Carter Kieboom that hit the side of the mound and right to the second baseman that was drawn in with runners at 3rd base and 2nd base in the 7th inning with one out. That could have been the game winner but it was not meant to be.
“Carter hits a ball off his bat 110 miles per hour hits the mound and kicks right — right to Kinsler,” Martinez said. “Stephen Strasburg I asked to slash, and he hits a bullet and Machado made a great play. If those two balls right there go and hit any other way it’s a different way it’s a different game, but they didn’t.”
Okay, there was some bad luck BABIP but other teammates struck out in key spots and made weak contact. There were 11 strikeouts today on poor approach, and some very predictable balls hit right to defenders. One play should not decide a game, and this has been the problem recently and most notably last night because you get 27 outs and in extra innings today the team got 30 outs. What happened in the second inning and the fourth inning?
As per usual this season, there was a bullpen meltdown, and tonight it was in the 10th inning. Wander Suero gave up 4 runs, and Justin Miller did not record an out in his first game back from his back injury, and he gave up 2 runs. The umpire did not help at a critical time in the game to blow some clear strike calls, but most of the issues could be pointed towards poor pitching out of the bullpen once again and a lack of situational hitting.
“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water,” Ben Franklin once wrote.
How many dry wells do the Nationals have? Some say you never know you have a problem until you have the problem. Houston, we have a problem. It was more than just Trevor Rosenthal. The Nationals have now dropped three games in a row and six out of their last eight games.