A couple of familiar early-season trends popped up again in tonight's 7-2 Nationals loss - an early deficit and defensive miscues.
The Nats trailed 3-0 three hitters into the game following a double, an Anthony Rendon throwing error and Albert Pujols' 499th career homer. The Angels added another run later in the frame, and had a four-run cushion before the Nats even got their first ups.
The lead was trimmed to two in the third when the Nats scored twice without the benefit of an RBI (a wild pitch and Jayson Werth's run-scoring double play brought in the two runs), but the Angels added a few insurance runs - two of which came on Pujols' 500th homer - and took their second straight game in this series.
Here are manager Matt Williams and Werth after the loss:
On Jordan's outing: "You make mistakes to somebody like Albert, you're going to pay for it. He's been doing that for a long, long time. First pitch he hit over the fence was a hanging offspeed pitch, which he's paid to do. The second time, he got a ball up again. I think for Taylor, it's just been balls up in the strike zone. That's an example tonight. Albert's a professional hitter, like we talked about yesterday. He's one of the best of his generation. That's what he does, he makes pitchers pay for balls that are left up. He did that today."
On if it's a mechanical issue for Jordan: "It can be. But generally, when he's good, the ball's sinking, the ball's down out of the zone. The breaking ball's down. But over the last couple, the ball's been elevated. And like I said, if you get in those situations with guys like Pujols, you're going to pay for it. And he did tonight. The ball was just up in the strike zone."
On if the early deficits are concerning: "Of course. We don't want to have to come from behind, that's for sure. We've done it, but it's not ideal, by any stretch. We've just got to do a better job of getting back in the dugout and let our offense go to work. But over the course of multiple games or a whole season, it's difficult to come back that many times. And it wears on you a little bit. We've got to (do) a better job of getting out of the first or the second and letting our offense go to work a little bit."
On whether Ross Detwiler could be a candidate to move into the rotation: "We don't know. We've got to see where Doug (Fister is) at, certainly. That's important for us. We won't know that for some time. Would we ever consider it? Of course we would consider it, but not because of tonight. The interesting part about it is, after that first inning, with the exception of the other homer to Pujols, he pitched pretty well. So you find that silver lining - young pitcher and a veteran hitter, that happens sometimes. But to make that drastic change right now, I don't think we would do (that)."
On the Nats' defensive issues: "I'm baffled, because it's... first of all, the ball that (Mike) Trout hit, that's a hard ball. And Anthony had five or six of them tonight, balls that were hit extremely hard. Handled the rest of them. I think he rushed a little bit. Misplaying the ball a little bit initially with Mike up there, we know he runs well. He rushed a little bit and pulled the ball to his left. And then the next one, I don't know. I think the infield is dry, even with the rain, they had the tarp covering it. I don't think there were any issues with grip on the baseball. Ball just sailed on him. So what do you do? We just keep doing what we're doing. We keep working at it. And we work at it every day. We do extra and we do all those things. It's not what we want, for sure. But we can't do anything but do what we're doing, and that's work at it."
On the Nats' 11-10 record: "We could sit here and paint the picture however you want, but the bottom line is we've got to play better. We've given away some games. It's funny because we've played good at times. We've been coming back. We've played good from behind. We've found ourselves behind quite a bit, and it seems to be most of the time due to defense. But we had some chances tonight. I was up early in the game with the bases loaded. Hitting into a double play, that doesn't help. It seems like we're not getting timely hitting. We're not getting timely defense. We're not getting timely pitching. When that happens, it's tough to win games. It is what it is."
On the early deficits: "I don't know. I said the other night, we talked about taking care of your area. That's really not my area. I've got enough problems with right field right now and in the batter's box. So I'll keep working on me and guys will keep working on them and try to get better."
On if it's mentally wearing having to come from behind so often: "I think almost a feeling like we've kind of gotten accustomed to it. There's no panic. It's still an upbeat dugout. We feel like we're still in games. So as far as that goes, it's good. Like I said earlier, you get a few come-from-behind wins like we've done, you can put those in your pocket and you can hang your hat on that. You've got those for later. So that's good. That's one thing we do have going for us, and we can build on that. We're fine. We'll figure this out. It's April. You can only say that for so long though."