There are only so many ways to state, and restate, the issues the Nationals are having on offense -- and with three more games against the Cincinnati Reds, who have one of the best pitching staffs in the National League, it might be wise to ration those out.
The issues the Nationals had all weekend in Florida were the same ones they encountered on Monday night in Cincinnati. The result bordered on predictable; coming off two shutout losses in Florida, the Nationals extended their shutout streak to 23 innings before scoring two runs in the top of the third. By that point, they were already down 4-0, courtesy of three walks by J.D. Martin and defensive gaffes from Willie Harris and Cristian Guzman. And after a 42-minute rain delay, the Reds put things away with a couple homers.
But the main issue, again, was the offense. The Nationals didn’t have an extra-base hit on Monday night, and it’s now been 29 innings since they’ve had one. They continue to put runners on base -- they drew seven walks in addition to four hits on Monday -- but with an inability to strike the big blow, that doesn’t mean much.
So where’s the fix? The heart of the order couldn’t be blamed on Monday; Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn each walked twice to help make up for 0-for-2 nights, and Josh Willingham added a walk to his 1-for-3 performance. But that pushed the RBI opportunities to Ivan Rodriguez, who’s hitting .185 since June 18 and grounded into two double plays on Monday. That gives him 18 GIDPs for the year, one behind Pablo Sandoval for the NL lead.
One roster note: As expected, the Nationals recalled right-hander Luis Atilano from Triple-A Syracuse to start tomorrow, sending Justin Maxwell back to Syracuse, also as expected and for the fourth time this year.
Byron Kerr will have more reaction from the clubhouse a little later.