The Nationals held a “jerseys off their backs” promotion today, giving their game-worn jerseys to fans.
The promotion was perfectly timed.
“It was a good day to give the jersey away,” Johnson said. “I don’t wanna wear that one. That one was unlucky.”
You’d have a hard time finding a game the Nationals have played this season which was as sloppy as the one they played today. The Brewers hit few balls all that hard, but they still notched 15 hits. The Nats made two errors and lost two balls in the sun. Their hitters were able to do little outside of a two-run fifth inning which briefly tied the game.
“Just a tough day,” Johnson said. “I thought Chien-Ming (Wang) threw the ball well. I didn’t want to go too many pitches with him. But I was pleased with the way he threw. Offense, not much offense. Then we gave them a few runs. Tough to win.”
Johnson liked what he saw from Wang, whose line score isn’t reflective of how he pitched. The Nationals’ skipper said that Wang could end up getting another start this season, possibly against St. Louis next week.
“He pitched well,” Johnson said. “Made good pitches in the jam. He deserved better. (Craig) Stammen came in, and that’s the wildest I’ve ever seen Stammen. Just one of those days nothing seemed to go right.”
Both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth lost fly balls in the sun this afternoon, and both times, the sun-aided hit led to a run. The sun has been a problem for Harper multiple times this season, and he’s now lost two balls in the sun at Nats Park in the last few weeks.
“It’s a tough sun, no doubt about it,” Johnson said. “Just one of those days, I guess. Harper’s having so much trouble, I was thinking about moving Werth over there. I guess it didn’t matter.
“There’s other clubs that have had the same problem. Either the balls we hit were higher or came in different. But Jayson misses one in the sun, I mean he’s pretty good out there. He knows how to use the glove, block off the sun until the last minute and then snatch it. But tough day.”
The Nats will have a couple more home afternoon games before the regular season ends, and then there’s the prospect of playing an afternoon playoff game at home. This is an issue which Johnson wants to nip in the bud.
“We may come out early and try to shag some fly balls,” he said. “Maybe when we have a night game or something. Seems to be around 2-3 o’clock when they’re having trouble. Bo (Porter) was starting to play them around so they’d get a little better angle on the sun. And then they started hitting the ball where we weren’t playing. Strategy, nothing worked today.”
Harper had a rough day all around; in addition to the lost fly ball, he went 0-for-4 with an inning-ending double play and two strikeouts that both ended an inning and also was given a fielding error when he tried to bare-hand a base hit to center and saw it roll by him.
“That was not needed,” Johnson said of that particular defensive miscue, which allowed two runners to move up a base. “But he’s still learning.”