Two rookies - Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper - went a combined 3-for-6 with two home runs and two walks today out of the top two spots in the Nationals' lineup.
The four guys behind them went a combined 0-for-16 with no walks and five strikeouts.
Those issues eat at Adam LaRoche, one of the veterans who helped accumulate those poor numbers, especially given the way Lombardozzi and Harper started the game by smacking back-to-back homers off Braves starter Tommy Hanson.
"(It's) pretty disheartening, the fact we started it up 2-0 in the blink of an eye and couldn't get anything else out of it," LaRoche said. "Give credit to Hanson for settling down and getting in a groove and shutting us down, but I thought we were going to have a little breakout and score a bunch of runs today. It just didn't happen."
Even with Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman back in the lineup after missing time to injuries, the middle of the Nats' order isn't producing a ton right now, but LaRoche isn't especially worried.
"Mike obviously just got here," LaRoche said. "You can't go off of two or three games. Zim's coming around, whether you see it or not. Just in talking to him and seeing what he's feeling at the plate. He's starting to figure some things out that might have been missing. And then I'm obviously trying to get back to seeing it good and finding some holes again myself.
"I don't think we need to sweat the middle of that lineup. I know it needs to happen now, but I think if we continue to stay patient, there's some pretty good hitters in there that are going to figure it out. It would be nice to be doing it all at once and see what we could really do."
Like LaRoche, Zimmerman is taking an optimistic outlook, even as he continues to scuffle at the plate. He says the issues aren't related to the shoulder inflammation, which landed him on the DL at the end of April, and insists he's fine health-wise.
"I just stink right now," Zimmerman said. "It's frustrating. Shoulder is fine. Everything is good. That's the beautiful thing about baseball. I have four months left to turn it around. I've been terrible and a couple of other guys have been hurt, and we've been in first place the whole year. It's definitely not what I wanted to do to start this season. I can't do anything about it now. Just gotta keep working hard and continue to grind it out.
"It'll change. It's been like this before. You just have to stay positive and keep working."
Harper said he made a poor decision trying for third in the fifth inning, but he didn't sound convinced by his own words.
"He had to make a perfect throw, and he made a perfect throw," Harper said. "Nine times out of 10, I don't think he makes that throw. But it happens. (Aldrelton) Simmons is a great player. He has a great arm. I didn't know he would make that perfect throw and get me."
On a positive and somewhat crazy note, Lombardozzi and Harper became the first rookies in modern major league history (since 1900) to lead off a game with back-to-back homers. Lombardozzi's bomb was the first of his career, which led his teammates to give him the silent treatment when he made his way down the dugout steps.
"They were kind of messing with me when I walked in the dugout," Lombardozzi said. "And then once they did get up and high-five me, everybody started yelling and then realized (Harper) just went yard. It was pretty cool."