Remember that six-game winning streak the Nationals compiled by sweeping the Red Sox and Blue Jays on the road?
Since then, the Nats have won just three of 10 games. In those 10 games, they’ve scored an average of 2.5 runs per contest.
And that includes a game where they played 14 innings.
When your offense is performing that poorly, it doesn’t matter how good your guys on the mound are. Your pitching staff can put up a 3.09 ERA in those 10 games, as Washington’s has, and you can still lose seven times.
The Nationals’ offense has been downright putrid lately. There’s no getting around it.
They’ve faced some tough hurlers during this last week and a half stretch, guys like Andy Pettitte, David Price and Jason Hammel.
But for every Hammel that has held the Nats in check, for every opposing pitcher with legitimately strong 2012 numbers, there’s been a pitcher with a mediocre stat line this season who has shut down the Nationals’ offense.
Rockies lefty Jeff Francis had an 8.56 ERA entering last night’s game. He allowed just five hits and two runs in five strong innings against the Nationals, and needed just 66 pitches to get through those five frames.
Orioles starter Jake Arrieta went into Sunday’s outing against the Nats with a 5.83 ERA. He allowed just one run in six innings.
On Wednesday, the Nationals faced 23-year-old Rays starter Chris Archer, who was making his major league debut. Despite allowing 41 earned runs and walking 45 over 76 2/3 innings at Triple-A, Archer held the Nats to three runs (one earned) over six innings, walking just one and striking out seven.
It’s these type of efforts which are starting to frustrate manager Davey Johnson the most.
“We’ve faced some pitchers that everybody jumps all over look like Sandy Koufax out there,” Johnson said on MASN’s “Nats Xtra” last night.
Opposing hitters were batting .381 against Francis this season prior to last night. This is a guy who barely reaches the mid-80s with his fastball and has average off-speed stuff. The Nats were facing him in a hitters’ park.
And, typical of this recent span (and their season as a whole, really) the Nats’ bats were quiet again.
Injury update: Late last night, the Nats reinstated catcher Carlos Maldonado from the 15-day DL and optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse.
Maldonado was hitless in nine at-bats with the Nats this season, but did have an RBI and two walks.