Good morning from San Francisco; I'm guessing most of you didn't say up for the end of the Nationals' 4-2 loss to the Giants, and really, you didn't miss much. After the Giants knocked Livan Hernandez from the game in the fifth inning, the Nationals' one attempt at a rally fell short in the seventh inning, when they scored two runs but nothing else.
The Nationals couldn't beat Todd Wellemeyer, and now they'll have to beat Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito to win the series against the Giants. Last night was their best opportunity, at least on paper, to get a win. The next two days will be tougher.
On with the awards:
Josh Willingham: On a night where the Nationals could do little at the plate, Willingham's seventh-inning single was probably their biggest hit. He was 1-for-4, but had the Nationals' only hit with runners in scoring position. There are few days where Willingham doesn't do something to help the team win, and he did again last night.
Ian Desmond: He went 1-for-2 at the plate, also driving in a run with a sacrifice. Desmond is probably the only player who had two productive at-bats last night. It was as impotent as the Nationals' offense has looked this season, but Desmond was able to contribute something.
Tyler Walker: Give the former Giants reliever credit for pitching out of a jam in the seventh inning and keeping the Nationals within two runs of San Francisco. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and has given up just two runs in his last 10 appearances.
Nyjer Morgan: In an 0-for-4 day at the plate, the at-bat that stood out was Morgan's pop-up in the third inning. The Nationals had runners on second and third with one out in the inning, and Morgan hit a weak pop fly to third base. The runners stayed at third, and Cristian Guzman's sharp grounder didn't get through, ending the inning. Morgan's average dropped to .257 in the loss.
Cristian Guzman: Aside from the hard grounder in the third inning, Guzman did nothing to get the Nationals' offense started at the top of the lineup. He was also 0-for-4, making the third out in three of his four at-bats. He's hitting .336, and has been torrid lately, but couldn't get it going on Tuesday.
In Case You Missed It:
--The Nationals squared up a number of balls that looked like they were headed out of the park, only to get knocked down by the bay breeze. Ryan Zimmerman crushed a ball in the fourth inning, Roger Bernadina hit two long flies to right and Ian Desmond's sacrifice fly in the seventh inning could've been a home run. But as Walker said, that's not the way to win here, because the wind is always a factor. The Nationals will have to start hitting line drives in the gap like the Giants did on Tuesday.
--After he was hit on the right knee by a pitch in the second inning, Roger Bernadina was picked off first base to end the inning. Desmond led off the third with a hit, followed by a Wil Nieves walk, and while it's hard to assume things would've gone exactly the same way, it would've put a runner on base for Desmond, who might have had the Nationals' best night at the plate.
1. When the Nationals face Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito the next two days, how disappointing is it that they couldn't get a win on Tuesday night. Does it feel like a missed opportunity, or is it tough to assume they'll lose the next two days, considering Lincecum hasn't been his best lately?
2. How do you see this road trip shaping up, with the pitching matchups in San Francisco and a tough series in San Diego before going to Houston? Are you worried about the possibility of a skid, especially with the offense missing Pudge Rodriguez?
3. Any suggestions for a quick fix for the Nationals' struggling offense? Is there one, or is this team just short a batter or two?
Leave your answers in the comments, as usual, and I'll have more later today. The Nationals and Giants start at 10:15 Eastern time tonight, so if you're up for staying up late, we'll have the live thread then.