Following losses both Sunday afternoon and Monday night, reporters approached Jayson Werth to discuss his two-homer performance (something that happened both days) and another tough defeat.
Both of those interviews were brief, with a frustrated Werth not wanting to answer what he called “gloom and doom” questions.
Tonight, things were different.
Werth called reporters over to his locker and opened up about the Nationals’ play of late. He only took three questions before ending the interview, but discussed the offensive woes, the outlook for the future and the impressive outings turned in by rookie Taylor Jordan.
“(Jordan’s) pitched good since he’s been up here,” Werth said. “He’s grown. He’s learning as he goes. He’s getting some on-the-job training and he’s got good stuff. Good-looking pitcher. Really, the thing about us right now, we’re a little snake-bit. Things aren’t going our way and we’re not winning games. We need to find a way to win a game. The silver lining is really no one else (in the division) is winning, either.
“The old clichÃ© stands true: Just one day at a time. We just need to pull back a little bit and put things in perspective and look at the big picture. Right now, things are tough, but all in all, I think one day at a time, one pitch at a time and one at-bat at a time, and we need to get this thing turned around. I’ve said it before, I believe in this team and I know it’s getting into late July, but still a lot of ballgames to be played. I still believe in these guys.”
To Werth’s point, the Nationals have lost all five games since the break, but dropped only two games to the Braves in the division.
The Nats only had three hits tonight, but in their defense, they hit the ball fairly hard off Pirates starter Gerrit Cole. Adam LaRoche had two balls brought in on the warning track. Ryan Zimmerman scalded two balls right at outfielders. Werth himself ripped a liner to third that was snagged for an out.
Close only matters in horseshoes and hand grenades, but the Nats can take a little solace in the fact they’re putting good wood on the ball.
“Like I said, we’ve been pretty unlucky,” Werth said. “We’ve been hitting balls hard at people, guys making good plays on us. You talk about timely hitting, lately it’s been untimely hitting. Instead of getting the big hit, we hit the ball that ends the rally. It needs to turn around. I think at some point, the tide’s got to turn. The luck’s got to swing in our favor. And hopefully when it does, we can grab hold of it and run with it. It’s tough right now, no doubt.”
Is that time coming soon?
“It seems like all year we’ve been talking about, ‘It’s gonna turn,’ ” Werth said. ” ‘Things are gonna turn, things are gonna go our way. We’re gonna get a call that goes our way. Things are going to start going our way.’ It just really hasn’t yet. That guy tonight, the other team’s pitcher, squares to bunt, pulls it back and hits a ball in the hole. Just stuff like that, just unlucky. Just how it’s going.”
Anthony Rendon made his ninth error of the season in tonight’s game, and it was a costly one, a miscue that led to two runs. He tried to turn a 5-4-3 double play but had Ryan Zimmerman’s throw bounce off his mitt and to the infield dirt, keeping the second inning alive.
“I think I just got a little too quick with it,” Rendon said. “I tried to turn it a little quicker than I thought.”
Davey Johnson says that type of play will take some time for Rendon to get used to, because as a guy who grew up playing on the left side of the infield, he’s used to being able to see runners coming towards him when working around the bag. At second base, Rendon has runners baring down on him and the throw coming from another direction, meaning he needs to make the catch without always knowing how close the runner is to the bag.
“I guess that’s a part of the game, if he takes you out,” Rendon said, not making excuses for his drop. “I saw him out of the corner of my eye, though. He wasn’t near me. I just tried to get a little too quick with it.”
Rendon played behind Jordan at Double-A Harrisburg a bit this season, and he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from the 24-year-old at the big league level, as well. Jordan pounded the zone tonight, throwing 74 of his 99 pitches for strikes, and got 14 groundball outs to just two flyouts.
“Yeah, he can pitch,” Rendon said. “Boy goes out there, he just goes after guys, he’s not afraid to throw it. That’s what we like in pitchers. You’ve got seven guys behind you. You want to let your defense work. That’s what we like to do.”