It’s May 1st. There should be some optimism if you believe the Nationals are following their same pattern as last year. The team was 13-16 last year leading into May and the Nats are 12-16 now. In May of 2018, the team went 20-7 for the month and moved into first place at the beginning of June. Much like last year, there was a lack of balance and baseball is a balancing act. One-run losses are usually a sign that a team was deficient in at least one aspect of their game. For most of the season, it has been the bullpen issues, but lately it has been the lack of offense generated from non-power numbers, and the starting pitching. Last night, the Nationals scored both of their runs on home runs, and that was it. The Nats stranded 9 runners and it was another game where they could not push across runs in a RISP situation (0-6). Waiting for the three-run home run would put a smile on Earl Weaver‘s face — but since the game when Anthony Rendon was injured on April 20th, the team has scored 3-or-fewer runs in 5 of those 10 games.
Last night in the second inning the Nationals had a golden opportunity with men on 2nd and 1st and no outs, and Carter Kieboom in the batter’s box. Me: BUNT.
As you know in this scenario last night, Kieboom did not attempt to bunt and he swung away and struck out. Maybe manager Dave Martinez decided not to play small ball because Brian Dozier who is batting behind Kieboom has a total of 2-hits this season in RISP spots. His .143 batting average in RISP spots unfortunately is about 60 points less than his normal BA. That inning almost had a great ending when Anibal Sanchez got up to bat with bases loaded, and he smacked a hard grounder up the middle and Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright literally stuck his cleat out and redirected it to his first baseman. Bad luck for sure, and that play kind of defines this season in a nutshell and became the GIF for the Nats season.
The Nationals bullpen has now pitched 16 consecutive scoreless innings, and the starters have given up 15 runs (14 ER) in 13 innings in those games. A reversal of fortune, and it comes at a time when the team needs to be thriving in all areas.
Tonight is the third game in this four game series with the Cardinals. Max Scherzer starts for the Nationals following up on his best start of the season five days ago. The struggling Miles Mikolas is on the mound for the Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice: