They didn’t get the start they needed from Stephen Strasburg. They didn’t get the defense they needed to aid their All-Star pitcher. And they didn’t get the offense they typically have produced against Julio Teheran.
The Nationals didn’t do much right this afternoon, and so the ensuing result - a 13-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Braves - shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
In a fairly uninspired performance, the Nationals got down early to Atlanta and never put forth a serious charge toward a rally the way they did Friday night against this same opponent. In the process, they were shut out for the first time this season, an impressive streak of scoring that lasted 86 games.
Strasburg lasted only three innings, departing after allowing six runs on seven hits and throwing 65 pitches. He also took a comebacker off his hip during a laborious top of the third, and though he remained on the mound to finish out the inning, it’s fair to wonder whether that play had a lasting effect on the right-hander and ultimately contributed to his quick departure.
The comebacker occurred with one out in the third, when Nick Markakis sent a shot back up the middle, 96 mph off his bat. The ball appeared to strike Strasburg in the hip, though his pitching hand also was in the vicinity. Strasburg picked up the ball and tried to get the lead runner at second base, but his throw sailed wide, couldn’t be gloved by shortstop Stephen Drew on the short hop and bounced into center field for an error.
Manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Mike Maddux and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard came out to check on Strasburg, and though the right-hander stayed in the game after a couple of warmup tosses, he wasn’t the same.
Strasburg surrendered two more hits - run-scoring singles by Kurt Suzuki and Teheran - and issued a walk before finally getting out of the inning. As he made a beeline for the dugout, Ryan Raburn grabbed a bat and helmet to pinch-hit and Tanner Roark began warming in the bullpen.
Only three of the six runs Strasburg allowed were earned runs, the byproduct of his error, but he wasn’t helped by the guys behind him in the field, either. Adam Lind, making a rare start in left field, misplayed a ball that landed in front of him and then skipped away from him for a costly double. Daniel Murphy couldn’t get to a ball hit to his right that drove home one run. Drew also passed up a chance for what appeared to be a makeable 6-3 double play that would have ended the second inning, instead tossing to Murphy, whose throw to first was late.
Roark, whose scheduled start Wednesday night against the Mets was rained out, performed admirably out of the bullpen given the circumstances. He ate up five innings in relief, though he allowed three more runs to turn this game into a blowout.
Sammy Solís poured more fuel on the fire during a torturous top of the ninth in which Atlanta’s first four batters reached base, with Matt Adams’ three-run homer capping the rally and leaving Solis (for that moment) with a 15.43 ERA. He departed having retired only one of the seven batters he faced.
It didn’t much matter how the Nationals pitching staff performed today, though, because the majors’ most productive lineup was silenced by Teheran. The Braves right-hander, who had a 5.91 ERA in eight starts against the Nats over the last three seasons, authored seven scoreless innings today.
Bryce Harper reached base three times to continue his mastery of Teheran, but the rest of the lineup squandered what opportunities they had. The Nationals were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position during Teheran’s seven innings on the mound.