PHILADELPHIA - Here are the number of runs the Nationals have scored in each of their last 10 games: 13, 10, zero, one, eight, eight, five, 11, two, two.
Of those 10 games, the Nats won six. Take your best guess which six ended in a Nationals handshake line on the field after the final out.
The Nats have shown in the last couple weeks that they’re capable of producing - and producing in a big way - offensively. But they’ve also followed those big offensive ballgames with ones where their bats just don’t show up, making things all the more frustrating.
“I have no idea,” Johnson said, when asked about the dichotomy in the offensive production. “If I could figure that out, I’d make a whole bunch of money. We’re just kind of, this is a good-hitting ballpark. You’ve got to want to go up there and swing the bat here. Anywhere you hit it, it’s got a chance to go. But we didn’t get nothing going. Tip your hat to him. (Cole) Hamels pitches a good game. Give them credit.”
For the second straight night, the Nats were shut down by a left-handed starter. By no means is that new, however. The Nats rank last in the majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage against lefties, and tonight, it was Hamels who held them to one run over eight innings.
Why does a team loaded with capable hitters, including a handful of potent right-handed hitters, continue to struggle against lefties?
“I don’t know. I made my living off left-handers late in my career,” Johnson said. “I liked them. For some reason or another we get ‘em in a jam, we don’t get the hit. We got him tired there at the end and had the right guys up, we just didn’t get the job done. (Taylor) Jordan deserved better. He pitched a good ballgame. Made a few mistakes behind him. But you know, he pitched a good ballgame. We’re just kind of stuck on two runs.”
Jayson Werth homered in the second to give the Nats a lead, but they didn’t notch another hit until the seventh. In the eighth, the Nats loaded the bases with just one out and Ryan Zimmerman and Werth due up. It was their best chance of the evening, but it ended with Zimmerman striking out on three pitches and Werth flying out to the track in center.
There were close pitches in both the Zimmerman and Werth at-bats that were called strikes by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, and Carapazza heard about it from the Nats dugout.
“It’s tough. I don’t want to complain about the umpiring,” Johnson said. “He got some borderline pitches. But we had pitches to hit and then we kind of expanded the zone. That’s what happens in a ballgame. We had the right guys in there, just didn’t get it done.”
The Phillies broke a 1-1 tie open in the sixth when they scored three runs following an Adam LaRoche throwing error. Only one of the three runs was unearned, but LaRoche’s throw - which could’ve left runners at the corners and one out - hit Jimmy Rollins running to second, allowing a run to score and leaving two runners on with no outs.
“I think Rollins came on the outside of the base and knew that’s where the throw was coming,” Johnson said. “I think the ball hit Rollins and actually probably out of the base line. Probably if the umpire was in position he probably could’ve called him out.”
For the third straight start, Jordan pitched pretty well, but he faltered as the game went on and he needed to go through the lineup a second and third time. All-in-all, Jordan allowed four runs (three earned) over 5 2/3, and while Johnson might be questioned by some for leaving the rookie in during the sixth when he started to get into trouble, Johnson said he saw no reason to pull the right-hander until after Chase Utley’s two-run double.
“I liked the way he was throwing,” he said. “He’d get ahead of guys and then, like I say, made too good a pitch. Left it right out over the plate and up. He’s a sinkerballer. But liked what he was doing. He could’ve got out of it.”