It’s tough to win games when you score two runs and go 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Yet again, the Nationals’ offense was unable to get the job done, failing to capitalize on their eight hits (four of which were for extra bases) in today’s 6-2 loss to the Orioles.
“That’s been kinda our M.O.,” manager Davey Johnson said. “But we’re showing signs of coming out of it, hopefully.”
Those signs were evident yesterday, when the Nats put up 10 hits on the Phillies, scored six runs in their last two offensive innings and rolled to a win. Today, with Bryce Harper out of the lineup, that momentum failed to carry over.
“When you’re struggling a little bit offensively and you take out one of your better hitters, it doesn’t help,” Johnson said. “But certainly we have the talent and we’re certainly capable. We’re just not quite getting there.”
Gio Gonzalez allowed four runs on eight hits with four walks over 5 2/3 innings today, bringing his ERA up to 3.90. He wasn’t too sharp and delivered his shortest outing in nearly a month, as his pitch count got elevated quickly and he struggled to work clean innings.
“I felt like I was attacking them, I felt like I was going after them,” Gonzalez said. “Like I said, they were finding hits. I felt like I was getting good fastballs in, good fastballs down and away and somehow they just found some holes.”
Manny Machado paced the O’s with three hits today, bumping his average up to .335 on the season. Consider the Nats impressed with what they saw of the 20-year-old, and struggling to find a game plan to set him down.
“Hopefully, he hits it at somebody right now,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “You just gotta mix it up with him. You can’t be predictable. His hits today, he was ahead in the count every time, as a hitter. As good of a hitter as he is, to get ahead in the count he becomes a beast. He’s got a great swing though. Shoot, 20 years old? That’s pretty impressive. He’s got a really good swing.”
Gonzalez had a down outing after delivering four straight solid starts, but he still kept the Nats in the game. The offense just didn’t do enough to scratch runs across.
They struggled against Orioles starter Jason Hammel, but it wasn’t like they didn’t have chances. Gonzalez (in the third) and Bernadina (in the seventh) both led off innings with doubles, but Gonzalez was thrown out trying to advance to third on a ground ball to short, and the three hitters behind Bernadina were set down in order, leaving him stranded in scoring position.
“It’s tough,” Suzuki said. “You definitely want to get on a roll. We’ve been running into some good pitching lately. Hammel threw the ball good today. They can swing the bats, the played well. It just wasn’t our day today.”
“We just haven’t been able to consistently, up and down the lineup, put together good at-bats day in and day out,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “When you can’t do that, you don’t score runs. We’ve just got to keep working, keep getting better each day. There’s a lot of season left, but we need to get going.”