In and of itself, there is no shame in the Nationals losing 6-4 to the Brewers today as they are the hottest team in baseball, winning 13 of their last 16. Getting swept? That’s little harder to explain away, but again, sometimes you just run into a buzzsaw. Getting swept while the winning pitcher in the clincher strikes out 10 and hits the go-ahead home run? That’s rough.
But that’s exactly what Zack Greinke did to the Nationals today, sending them to their seventh loss in eight tries on the now completed road trip. The offense continues to plod along as the pitching staff has begun in earnest the regression to their below-average mean. Thankfully, the Nationals welcome the light-hitting Padres to Nationals Park on Friday for a three game series, a respite before the Ike Turner beatings begin anew with the Phillies swooping in on Monday.
Game ball(s): Greinke. He managed to humiliate Washington this afternoon, which is saying something for the nation’s capital.
Goat(s): Like Congress, you don’t suddenly find yourself in a ditch without a full team effort.
Bryce Harper is a long ways off: Mike Morse. Pressed into action with LaRoche mercifully going on the DL, he delivered his third homer in three days with a predictable MM line: 1 for 4 with 3 Ks.
Current Record: 21-28
Mmmmmm…Doublemint. Great gum for at least 30 seconds. Anyhoos. Yesterday was a banner day for the Nationals, sweeping their doubleheader against the Brewers in dare I say, easy fashion. In the process, the Nationals also swept the series and pushed their record above .500 for the first time all season. Double your pleasure, double your fun.
Game 14 & 15 Natties
Game ball(s): Danny Espinosa who drove in 6 of the Nationals 13 runs. He only had two hits, but made them count, tripling in three and homering in another three. And Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez both deserve kudos as well, both posting seven quality innings. Too often a doubleheader spells taxing trouble for a team’s bullpen but not so yesterday.
Goat(s): Yovani Gallardo. Every step he takes towards becoming an ace is matched by an almost equal step backwards. The zero walks, though, is a good sign that he should still be great one day. Oh, and what the hay. Chad Gaudin. Another two-thirds of an inning, two runs allowed showing. He’s the Ron Popeil of bad relievers.
Bryce Harper is a ways off: Drew Storen. The good doppelganger of Gaudin, who went two clean innings for the save in game two.
Current record: 8-7
When is an 0-5 night a $126 million contract earning night? Last night, when Jason Werth hustled his way to second in the bottom of the tenth after Yuniesky Betancourt’s throw got past Prince Fielder, swiped third base without a throw, and came home on an infield bouncer by Adam LaRoche.
Putting aside the Brewers curious defensive decision to not cover third after Werth reached second, last night’s win is exactly the type of win that has been few and far between the past few seasons. A win when you are clearly not the better team, but you manage to pull one out anyways. Now granted, not every night will the beer capital denizens drink and play. And no, long term, Werth can’t earn his keep with just hustle alone. But for a team yearning to instill a culture of winning, watching one of your struggling stars hustle the team to victory can’t hurt.
Game 13 Natties
Game ball(s): Can it be anybody else but Werth?
Goat(s): Sean Burnett. Blown save number one on the season. With Storen pitching so well, I can’t help but think that soon, the Nationals will begin the transition back to the future.
Bryce Harper is a ways off: Wilson Ramos. Boy, can he hit. Everyday, that Matt Capps half-year rent and trade is looking better and better.
Current Record: 6-7