At least the offense is back on track, sort of
The Washington Nationals began this three-game series against Baltimore struggling at the plate in the wake of their most recent homestand in which they scored 10 runs in six games. That's an average of just 1.7 runs a game, but players remained positive despite that lack of production given the opportunity to feast on Orioles pitching on the horizon.
The Nationals have done just that, amassing 11 runs in two games. That's the most runs in consecutive games since they scored 13 combined against Cleveland and Detroit on June 13 and 14.
In their two games against Baltimore at Camden Yards, Washington has scored all 11 times over the first four innings, which would have been fine had the Nationals not lost both games. On Friday they squandered a 6-0 lead before losing in the ninth, 7-6, on a throwing error. Saturday Washington had a 5-0 cushion, but starter Liván Hernández couldn't make it stand, and a wild pitch by reliever Drew Storen allowed Luke Scott to come home in the seventh with what would be the winning run in a 6-5 loss.
"When you're up early and you don't add on, it can come back to bite you, and that's what happened," Manager Jim Riggleman said of the Nationals' recent penchant of scoring in the first handful of innings. "You'd like to think five is going to be enough, but today it wasn't."
The Nationals had grown accustomed to losing close games lately, including 1-0 twice and 2-1 in 11 innings during their last homestand when they went 2-4. In one of those victories, Washington scored two runs and won largely because Hernández had his way with the Kansas City Royals.
Now that the Nationals have made strides at the plate, pitching and defense have betrayed them. Yesterday Hernández was strong over the first four innings before giving up four runs in the fifth. On Friday, starter J.D. Martin held Baltimore in check before Riggleman pulled him, and the bullpen failed to hold a comfortable lead. After Baltimore tied the game in the eighth with three runs, Cristian Guzmán's throwing error allowed pinch runner Jake Fox to score and end the game.
"If we're not hitting, we're pitching great, and if we're pitching great, we're not hitting," said first baseman Adam Dunn, who has six RBI over the past two games.
It's been especially difficult on the road, where Washington has lost 19 of 23 since May 15, including all three games of the series at the Detroit Tigers. The Nationals then lost all three games of their home series against the Chicago White Sox.
In interleague play since June 11, the Nationals are 3-11. The only series they have won during that time was taking two of three from the Royals before coming to Baltimore and enduring two of the more improbable losses of the season.
"Anytime you've got a nice lead, you certainly hate to give it up, but the other team is coming at you," Riggleman said. "They kept getting hits. It's the way we're going."
June 27, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Adam Dunn , Cristian Guzman , Drew Storen , Jim Riggleman , Livan Hernandez
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