Over the course of 162 games last season, the Nationals were shut out eight times.
Tonight marked the ninth time they’ve been shut out in their first 83 games this season.
The Nats lost to the Brewers 4-0 tonight, wasting another stellar outing from Stephen Strasburg, who threw seven scoreless innings, dropping his ERA to 2.24. They went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base, this after putting up 23 runs in their last two ballgames.
“The other guy pitched a pretty good ballgame. I didn’t think he was that good,” manager Davey Johnson said of Brewers starter Wily Peralta, who held the Nats scoreless over 5 1/3 before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. “He had a couple fastballs, he’d run one away and then throw a straight one, but I didn’t think his breaking ball was that good. But we didn’t, except for the first inning, didn’t get much.”
The Nats loaded the bases off Peralta - who came into the game with the third-worst ERA in baseball - in the first, but were unable to push anything across. They then went seven innings without putting another runner in scoring position.
All along, Strasburg kept plugging away, putting up zeros, even in the sixth when he walked two hitters and needed to pitch around a Ryan Zimmerman fielding error. He had a long period where he was left sitting around in the Nats’ dugout in the bottom of the sixth when Peralta left the game with his injury, but still capped off his outing with another scoreless frame in the seventh, notching his eighth strikeout of the game in that inning. All eight Ks came on curveballs.
“I was a little concerned about him because we had that long delay in the sixth,” Johnson said. “I don’t know, I think it was about 25 minutes or something. But he went out there and still had good stuff. Still pitched. We just haven’t scored him any runs.”
How has Strasburg been dealing with the lack of run support this season?
“I mean, he’s a professional,” Johnson said. “He picked us up when we made the error in the (sixth). Pitched out of a tough jam there. Could’ve gotten out of hand there, but he bowed his neck and pitched great to get us out of a jam. But we’ll score him some runs. I think we’re coming around. Today wasn’t a better one.”
A scoreless game in the eighth suddenly turned a bit lopsided when Drew Storen allowed four runs on four hits and a walk. Storen got into trouble early in the inning, putting the first two batters he faced on base, and then surrendered three run-scoring hits in a four-batter span. The Brewers were all over Storen on the basepaths, taking off on the pitch seemingly every other pitch.
Storen had allowed an earned run in just one of his previous 17 outings, but the Brewers put up a crooked number on him today, boosting his ERA to 4.76.
“I don’t know I think he got a little upset with ... I think he felt the umpire might’ve missed a play,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. Seemed to upset him a little bit. And then the runners, he knows they’re going to run on him. Needs to speed it up, and I think that probably affected him more than anything. He’s been pitching pretty good and that wasn’t one of his better ones.
“Cat goes over (the need to hold runners) in the meetings. ‘You’ve just got to speed it up.’ And he didn’t do it. I think it’s probably more his slow move. But he’s been pitching pretty good, but that wasn’t one of them.”
Storen got a bad break when Martin Maldonado lifted a fly ball to the track in left with two outs in the eighth and Bryce Harper was unable to bring it in. One run scored on the play - which was ruled a double - and another came around one batter later. Harper seemed to be bracing for the wall as the ball bounced out of his glove, but Johnson felt that his left fielder just wasn’t able to keep track of the ball.
“I don’t know. Looked like he lost it,” Johnson said. “He went back and lost it a little bit and then I thought he got there in pretty good shape. Obviously didn’t see it until right at the end.”
Yet again, the Nats experienced a downer after running off two uplifting wins, but Johnson won’t read too much into this one.
“No, I think the guys feel good,” Johnson said. “It’s gonna take a little time. Harp hasn’t been in there that much, he’s a little rusty. The next two days will be pretty big for us, hoping (Ross Detwiler) comes through all right and he’s healthy, and then the kid (Taylor) Jordan.”