The Nationals lost their sixth game in seven attempts against the Braves on Thursday, a 3-0 shutout at Nationals Park.
First baseman Adam LaRoche does not know the answer as to why Atlanta has had the Nationals’ number recently, besides the obvious of playing a little better baseball at the right time.
“I don’t know what it is,” LaRoche said. “You got to think losing that many games it’s not all coincidence. They play us tough, you know, plain and simple. They come up with some big hits and we seem to not get a lot of action on the basepaths. I don’t know what it is at this point. Between them and St. Louis, just kind of snake bit, those two teams.”
LaRoche said he is well aware of the team’s record against the Braves, but once the game begins you have to just go out and play.
“It’s noticed,” LaRoche said. “I got to think when the game starts you, majority of the time forget who you are playing and you go play. We have a routine we go through and that never changes regardless of who you are playing. Couldn’t tell you.”
Thursday’s losing pitcher Jordan Zimmermann does not believe it is anything extraordinary that the Braves are doing to play so well against the Nationals.
“I don’t think we are frustrated at all really,” Zimmermann said. “We are playing good ball. It just happens we have a rough time with these guys. But hopefully that turns around and Stephen (Strasburg) comes out and pitches a great game tomorrow.”
But credit Thursday should also go to Braves starter Gavin Floyd (2-2), who allowed only two hits and no runs in six innings before leaving with what was reportedly a fractured elbow.
“He was good,” LaRoche said. “You could tell by watching some of our at-bats that he obviously had some real good movement.”
Like Floyd, Zimmermann has returned to pitch well following Tommy John surgery. Seeing Floyd go down with what turned out to be a fractured elbow was tough to watch.
“You never want to see another pitcher to get injured,” Zimmermann said. “I don’t know what really happened but obviously it was bad enough where he had to come out of the game. Hopefully, he will be alright.”
LaRoche said managing just three hits overall doesn’t allow many chances to put a dent in the scoreboard, making a 2-0 or 3-0 deficit seem insurmountable.
“It is tough there when you don’t have many situations,” LaRoche said. “I don’t know how many times we had guys in scoring position, I mean even guys on base. That was a shot there. And I had a poor at-bat. I can’t even remember what happened after that. One of those games, we got out pitched and we got out hit. Most time when that happens you lose the game. It’s the way it is.
“When we do have opportunities we need to execute. When we get pitches to hit we need to not miss them. Probably a combination of (those two and) being a little more patient. Defensively, seems when we play these guys regardless of how we change our defensive placement they find a way to find holes. That has kind of been their track record against us. It is not necessarily the long ball or the double, it is just a lot of well placed singles and they continue to do it and we don’t.”
Zimmermann (5-4) talked about the two-run fourth inning for Atlanta. He said the Braves were able to get a few singles in a row, but he still felt fairly good about his outing.
“I threw some pretty good pitches, really they had some hits, but there’s one hard hit ball,” Zimmermann said. “The rest of them (were) off the end of the bat. It’s the way baseball is sometimes. Made some good pitches, a couple of bloopers, a three hopper up the middle. They got the bases loaded, was happy to get out of it with two runs. Had some good innings after that.”
Zimmermann remained confident after his outing. And really it was a solid performance. He ended up scattering seven hits over seven innings with only two runs allowed, striking out six and walking one.
“Just got to keep doing my job and go out there and keep throwing strikes and go deep in the game,” Zimmermann said. “I know later on this year, I am going to have a bad start some place down the road and these guys are going to pick me up and score a bunch of runs. That is just the way baseball is. We are not going to hang our heads, we are going to move on and be ready tomorrow.”