The Nationals have had no trouble getting runners on base against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who has issued three hits and four walks through the first four innings.
The problem has been converting those baserunners into runs.
It’s a 2-1 Phillies lead here at Nats Park heading to the bottom of the fifth inning, despite the fact that Jordan Zimmermann has outpitched Kendrick, for the most part.
The Nats put two runners in scoring position in the second inning, but both Kurt Suzuki and Steve Lombardozzi were left stranded when Zimmermann grounded out to end the inning.
In the third, Kendrick walked the bases loaded with one out, but the Nats could only plate one run on Ian Desmond’s sacrifice fly to right.
Then in the fourth, Tyler Moore reached second on Jimmy Rollins’ two-base throwing error. Lombardozzi then singled to shallow center, and for some reason, third base coach Trent Jewett waved Moore home.
There are a number of reasons to question that decision to send Moore in that spot. The most paramount, in my mind, is that there were no outs. Yes, Zimmermann was due up next, but even if he just drops down a bunt, you’ve got two runners in scoring position and one out.
If you were talking about a runner that could fly around third, maybe you send him, but Moore doesn’t have great speed, by any means. In addition, Phillies center fielder Ben Revere scooped up the ball in very shallow center and while he doesn’t have the strongest arm, he didn’t need it to gun the ball home there.
Moore was out by a mile, and went crashing into catcher Erik Kratz on the play. It was a big collision, one that could’ve easily been avoided.
Zimmermann allowed a run in the fifth after surrendering four singles to the first five Phillies hitters that came to the plate. He hasn’t allowed a walk or an extra-base hit yet, but he trails by a run and will have to hope the Nats can be more effective with runners in scoring position the rest of the way out.
Update: A four-run bottom of the fifth - that included three straight two-out hits - has given the Nats a 5-2 lead going to the sixth.
Adam LaRoche smacked a one-out triple off the center field wall (LaRoche’s 11th triple in his 10 big league seasons), scoring Ryan Zimmerman to tie the game, and after Desmond struck out, Suzuki, Moore and Lombardozzi strung together three straight hits.
Lombardozzi’s double to center score Suzuki and Moore, making it a three-run Nats lead.
The Nats entered today batting just .195 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and they had gone 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position tonight through the first four innings. Now, they have a nice cushion and will get to face the Phillies bullpen the rest of the night, as Kendrick is done after five long frames.
Lombardozzi, by the way, is 3-for-3 tonight with a double and two RBIs.