The Nationals walked off the field after a 1-0 loss to the Mets on Thursday afternoon still seething over a blown call by first base umpire Phil Cuzzi, who mistakenly called Jayson Werth out on a grounder to third in the ninth inning. Manager Jim Riggleman and several players yelled at the umpires as the game ended, and catcher Ivan Rodriguez hopped onto the infield warning track to ream the umpires for Cuzzi’s call.
There’s been a bubbling sentiment among some members of the organization that the team is on the short end of too many calls - and that was clearly driving the Nationals’ anger as Thursday’s game ended - but you also won’t find many people who won’t admit that the real issue is something much deeper. The Nationals’ lack of offense has become an epidemic, with the team’s offense ranking as the worst in baseball, and their aggravation was aimed at umpires on Thursday.
“You know what? Someone’s going to pay for this,” manager Jim Riggleman said in his televised postgame interview on MASN on Thursday afternoon. “We’re going to start hitting.”
They’ll arrive at Camden Yards on Friday to face an Orioles pitching staff that has allowed 25 runs in its last three games. But if the Nationals can’t get things going soon, they face the prospect of their season drifting away.
They’re 20-23 at the moment, still only six games out of first place in the National League East as the Phillies battle through their own offensive struggles after their latest round of injuries. But the Nationals have played more than a quarter of their season, and while it’s statistically unlikely they’ll be this bad all season (their .233 average, .295 on-base percentage and .342 slugging percentage are all last in the NL), they’ve been too futile for too long to just assume they’re in a slump.
If the Nationals can get their offense working this weekend, they have a chance to reel off some wins with series against the Brewers and Padres coming up. But if they can’t, they’ll be missing a golden opportunity in their schedule.