Offense is fun, but pitching and defense win games

Coming off another high-scoring loss Friday night, the Nationals sit among the National League's elite when it comes to offense.

The Nats are hitting .277, 3rd in the league and exceeded only by the high-payroll Mets and Dodgers at .291.

Of course, the LA numbers will skew down over the next seven weeks as Manny Ramirez waits out his suspension through July 3; so we could make an argument that right now our team is 2nd-best in the league.

Washington has scored the 6th-most runs and has hit the 3rd-most home runs with 42, behind only the Brewers with 47, Rockies 46 and Phillies 45.

One thing the Nats don't do much is steal bases with only 13 in 21 attempts, 3rd-lowest in the league. They have speed, but not a bona fide base stealer on the team right now. But that's nit-picking in an otherwise prolific offense.

However, this isn't the weekend slow-pitch beer league; it's the major leagues where you can't outslug your opponents every game. You have to pitch and catch the ball.

The Nationals' staff ERA is the highest in the NL at 5.54 runs per game, and the only team even close is the Phillies at 5.33. But they catch the ball, leading the league in defensive percentage, making only 11 errors in their first 33 games.

The Nats have made 35 errors, the most in baseball, and we have found that when you give your opponent more than three outs in any inning, there will be a price to be paid.

But back to pitching, where Washington has given up 212 runs, by far the most in the NL and 36 more than the Nats have scored, slightly more than 1 run per game on the negative side.

Going into the weekend, the Yankees had given up the same number of runs as the Nats, with Cleveland and Baltimore giving up the most in baseball. So, next weekend's interleague series with the Orioles could be a very high-scoring one.

With a young starting staff and struggling veteran bullpen, it's time for patience, but it's hard for fans paying major league prices to keep waiting and waiting. I can guarantee one thing: when our young guns figure out how to pitch late into games, like Shairon Martis is doing, we'll be onto something special with a young club that can hammer the ball and pitch effectively.

When the latter happens, the defense will improve and we'll be posting a bunch of Curly W's!