Manager Matt Williams declined to comment on what he told the Nationals following their 8-0 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday night at Nationals Park.
“I am not answering that question. That is for me and my team and no one else’s business,” Williams said.
But Williams left no doubt as to his impressions of his team’s sloppy play. The Nats committed four errors and now lead the National League with 20, managing only two hits in being shut out for the first time this season.
“Regarding the game, probably the worst one that we have played,” Williams said.
Williams pointed to the errors in the game, especially the first inning, where an Ian Desmond bobbled grounder allowed Matt Carpenter to reach first base in the very first at-bat. St. Louis scored three runs before the Nationals even had their first ups.
“They are mistakes,” Williams said. “We will continue to work. That is all we can do. We will work at it every day.
“Desi, I think, hurried on the first one. Taylor (Jordan) tried to get the ball out of his glove, couldn’t get it out of his glove.
“Is that lack of effort? No, it is not lack of effort. It is not lack of preparation. It is not a lack of anything. It is what it is. What do we do tomorrow? We go play. That is all we can do.”
One reporter commented on how the Nationals had sloppy games similar to this in 2013, before Williams was the manager. What can be done differently this time?
“I don’t know,” Williams said. “Boy, if we had those answers, the game would be a lot easier than it is, for sure. I don’t know what the answer is other than going out and playing tomorrow and being ready from the first pitch on. Go from there.
“Any time you go up against Adam Wainwright, it is going to be difficult,” Williams said. “We had an opportunity with the bases loaded early and it didn’t happen. And addressing the defensive issues, those happen. It just seems that is happening an extraordinary amount to us.”
“He throws two kinds of fastballs and spots it well, threw a lot of curveballs tonight,” Williams said about Wainwright. “Got the ability to reach back and throw it 94 (mph). Pretty special pitcher.”
Facing a tough pitcher and tough opponent is one thing. But providing the opposition extra outs by not making defensive plays is another glaring issue early in the season.
Williams said when you have committed 20 errors in 16 games, it is definitely a point of emphasis, as it is every pregame.
“What do you do about it?” Williams asked rhetorically. “Well, we just keep grinding away at it. We keep going out there. Tomorrow, we will certainly take full BP, full grounders and it is a scheduled extra work for the pitchers tomorrow. What to make of it, I don’t know.”
Williams felt Jordan certainly battled after the first-inning Cardinals rally, but he just could not stay consistent throughout the game.
“He wasn’t crisp today,” Williams said. “Outside of the miscues, he didn’t pitch all that bad. He got into an issue his last inning, but then his pitch count is way up there. But outside of the first inning, it wasn’t that bad. He wasn’t as crisp as normal. He made his pitches and he battled.”
Jordan said he did not feel like he was on target like he wanted to be, and that led to some pitches he would like to take back.
“I thought I missed a couple of pitches up,” Jordan said. “I didn’t really show good fastball command for the most part. I had decent movement today though.”
Poor defense in the first with the Desmond error hurt, but Jordan could not get the ball out of his glove on a comebacker by Kolten Wong that turned into the first hit of the game.
“I saw that he was very quick,” Jordan said. “I couldn’t get my hand inside the glove and pull out the ball in time.”
“There was a couple of tough plays,” Jordan said of the defensive miscues. “Things just didn’t go our way, obviously. Mistakes are going to happen. ... These things definitely happen. We have a very good infield.”