If the first five innings of tonight’s game are any indication, some time off over the All-Star break apparently hasn’t changed much about this Nationals team.
The Nats trail 2-1 after five innings despite loading the bases with no outs in the fourth inning. They got nothing in that frame and had boos rain down upon them as they walked off the field.
After Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper singled with no outs and Jayson Werth followed with a walk to load the bases in the fourth, Ian Desmond came up with a chance to give the Nats the lead. Instead, his check-swing grounder led to a fielder’s choice, with Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe wisely coming home to cut down the lead runner.
No matter, Chad Tracy - who was hitting .307 in his career off Ricky Nolasco - was next. He’d at least tie the game, right?
Nope. Tracy lifted a fly ball to shallow left on the first pitch he saw, and Harper was unable to tag and try to score.
Wilson Ramos was the Nats’ last hope in the fourth, but he grounded out to first, capping off another frustrating frame.
The Nats are 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position tonight, and despite the fact that Stephen Strasburg has held the Dodgers to two runs through five innings, the Nats still trail.
Their only run tonight, in fact, shouldn’t have counted. Harper doubled leading off the second and then tried to tag and advance to third on a line drive to right.
Dodgers’ phenom Yasiel Puig fired a seed to third, and replays showed Uribe’s tag came just before Harper reached the bag. Third base umpire Eric Cooper called Harper safe, however, and Harper ended up scoring on a Nolasco wild pitch.
Other than that, it’s been a whole lot of nothing.
Strasburg has allowed seven hits through five, but he’s limited the damage. He just - again - isn’t getting any help.
Update: The Nats tied the game in the sixth, but only more frustration followed.
Yes, Desmond dropped an RBI single into shallow center, just in front of a charging Andre Ethier, knotting the score at 2-2, but two pitches later, Tracy grounded into a 6-3 double play, ending the threat and stranding two more runners.
Even the positive updates come with a downside attached to them.
Tracy is now hitting .151 on the season, and just isn’t getting it done like he did last season.
Strasburg is through seven innings of two-run ball, and unless the Nats can manage to punch a run across in the bottom of the seventh, he’ll again fail to notch a win despite delivering a quality start.
His line: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 Ks, HR, WP, 104 pitches, 71 strikes.