The offensive woes continue.
How many straight days can I write an entry with a lede similar to that?
The Nationals don’t have a hit through five innings tonight. Pirates starter Francisco Liriano has allowed two walks - to Scott Hairston leading off the bottom of the first and to Jayson Werth in the fourth - but has yet to surrender a base hit.
The Nats haven’t really been all that close to recording their first hit, either. A Stephen Strasburg groundball up the middle nearly got through the infield but was gloved by Pirates second baseman Neil Walker. Ryan Zimmerman hit a fly ball to the edge of the track in left. Steve Lombardozzi made right fielder Travis Snider run a good ways to bring in his lazy fly ball.
That’s been about it.
Liriano has looked good, but it’s tough to tell just how good because the Nats have been that bad lately.
Strasburg has pitched five strong innings, allowing just two hits and one run (a run that came on a Pedro Alvarez solo shot) with seven strikeouts.
But again, he’s gotten no help.
Liriano needed just five pitches to retire the side in the fifth. He’s thrown 75 pitches through five.
Update: The Nats will not be no-hit today. That’s the good news.
The bad news? They had a good chance to get to Liriano in the sixth after Anthony Rendon’s two-out infield single (on a ball that Alvarez gloved with a dive but could not corral to make a throw) and Zimmerman’s walk.
That brought up Werth, who struck out looking to end the inning and keep the Nats scoreless.
It also made the Nats 6-for-their-last-79 (.076) with runners in scoring position. Truly dreadful.
They still trail 1-0 after six innings.
Update II: Strasburg turned in an absolute gem tonight, allowing just two hits and a run over eight tremendous innings.
The right-hander struck out 12, walked none and threw 118 pitches, 80 for strikes.
A few notes: Strasburg has set a Nats season high for strikeouts by a starter; he notched double-digit Ks for the ninth time in his career; and his 12 strikeouts are the most he’s recorded since he struck out 13 Red Sox on June 8 of last year.
The 118 pitches is also one off from tying Strasburg’s career high.
Regardless of all that, the Nats still trail 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the eighth.
Update III: Lombardozzi singled leading off the bottom of the eighth. He moved to second on Kurt Suzuki’s sac bunt.
Hairston then struck out looking. Rendon followed by popping up foul to first base.
With those two failed at-bats, the Nats are now 6-for-their-last-81 with runners in scoring position in their last 13 games.
Update IV: The Nats trailed 1-0 after eight innings. They trailed 4-0 heading to the bottom of the ninth, and those three insurance runs, all charged to Drew Storen, loomed incredibly large.
In to work the ninth, Storen surrendered a leadoff single to Starling Marte, then an RBI double to Walker. Fernando Abad relieved Storen with two outs but allowed a two-run single to Michael McKenry, and both of those runs got stuck on Storen’s line, as well.
Jayson Werth hit a two-run homer in the ninth that would have been huge, but instead, it just cut the Pirates’ lead in half. Pittsburgh went on to win 4-2.
The end of the game was a controversial one, as Wilson Ramos was called out on what was ruled a double play, even though he wasn’t tagged and wasn’t out of the baseline. Regardless, the Nats lose and have dropped six straight and 11 of their last 13.