It’s pretty simple, really: It’s incredibly difficult to win at a consistent level when you score three or fewer runs a game.
And in that regard, the Nationals have been pushing their luck so far.
Through the season’s first 19 games, the Nats’ hitters have been spoiled. They’ve played 11 games in which they scored three or fewer runs and somehow found a way to win eight of them.
They won a game 1-0. They were victorious in three separate games in which they managed just two runs. They’ve come out on top in six of their nine one-run contests.
It’s obvious that the Nats have ridden their exceptional starting pitching, a strong bullpen and some timely knocks to a 14-5 start. But Washington’s hitters can’t expect their hurlers to keep going at this absurd rate the entire season.
Counting Edwin Jackson’s effort last night, Nationals starters now have put up eight scoreless outings in their 19 games this season. That’s something which hasn’t been done before in modern baseball history (since 1900).
In other words, this string of ridiculous pitching performances isn’t likely to continue.
Last night, it looked like the Nats might sneak out of San Diego with another 1-0 win. That didn’t happen, as Tyler Clippard surrendered two runs in the eighth inning, and the Padres earned a 2-1 win to avoid the sweep.
But it shouldn’t always come down to the ‘pen having to cling to a one-run lead. How about a multi-run home run? Is a game with double-digit runs an unreasonable request?
Of course, last night was just one loss. The Nats still have the best record in the National League and are two games up on the Braves in the NL East. Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder injury isn’t thought to be serious, and Michael Morse will eventually return from the disabled list. We hope.
That’s all good stuff.
Still, the bottom line is that this team is going to have to find more offense in order to be playing meaningful games in September.
The Nats can’t expect their pitching staff to be perfect every night.