Quick thoughts on the Nats’ loss to the Astros

This is going to be stream-of-consciousness style, but here goes:

--This wasn’t a game that the Nationals looked like they were going to lose, but the fact that they rallied against an Astros team that’s got the same kinds of issues protecting leads that they did last year makes the loss sting a little. They had the ball in the hands of Matt Capps, their indomitable closer, and blew a lead to an inferior team. And Ryan Zimmerman’s error at third base played a part in that. It’s not a combination we’ve seen much this year. It does happen, but the Nationals need to beat up on the Astros to get a roll going.

--It’s encouraging that the offense has hit well in the first two games of the series, but most of that was against a soft bullpen after Brett Myers held the Nationals down for seven innings. We saw Matt Lindstrom blow the lead, as he’s done so many times in Florida, so it’s tough to feel as good about seven runs as the score alone would indicate.

Jim Riggleman talks with Johnny and Phil after the Nats’ walk-off loss to the Astros

--As tempting as it might be to blame Zimmerman in the loss (I saw a couple tweets comparing his costly error to Nyjer Morgan), it doesn’t make much sense to do so. Unlike Morgan this season, Zimmerman has been mostly stellar on defense. He’s a Gold Glover who, on most nights, does more to help the team than he ever does to hurt it. And this kind of error - a fielding mistake - is somewhat fluky for him. Likewise, don’t blame third-base umpire Bill Hohn for not calling check-swing strikes in the ninth. The Nationals gave up eight runs in a game the Astros were trying to boot away. You’ve got to win those games, regardless of the umpires or anything else. That’s what good teams do.

--Craig Stammen will get another start on Sunday, but he didn’t help himself in the race not to be lifted out of the rotation for Stephen Strasburg, giving up nine hits in five innings. Opponents have a .342 average against him on the road this season.

Any thoughts on this one? Kind of a disappointing loss for the Nats, after they rallied to get the game in Capps’ hands. These nights do happen, but they need to take the next two games of this series, beat up on a bad team and salvage a .500 road trip.