On Thursday night, the Nationals missed a chance to win a road series for the first time since May. But it's hard to know exactly where the frustration should lie after their 8-4 loss to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Is it with pitcher Ross Detwiler, who struggled to make pitches after the Nationals' defense slipped up behind him and allowed seven runs in four innings? Manager Jim Riggleman wasn't sure, saying in his televised postgame interview that he can't get a feel for how well Detwiler is pitching "We played so bad behind him, it's hard to get a good read," Riggleman told Byron Kerr and Ray Knight. "That's about the third time he's pitched that we've played terrible. We're trying to get a read on what Ross is doing. He's trying to pitch out of trouble, and we're not allowing him to pitch out of trouble, because we're not making plays when he pitches. Just a terrible performance by the ballclub."
After allowing just two hitters to reach on errors in their last nine games, the Nationals committed three errors on Thursday night, misplaying several other balls and allowing three unearned runs. Detwiler has allowed 13 runs in three starts, but only five of those have been earned. Should he be one of the pitchers the Nationals send to the minors next week to make room for Jason Marquis and Stephen Strasburg? It's hard to tell; Detwiler hasn't kept the ball down or been able to rebound after his defense lets him down, and gave up three hits and a walk after a pair of errors on Thursday night. But the Nationals haven't given Detwiler a chance to go deep into games with the way they've played behind him.
But should the blame be put solely on the Nationals' inability to keep Arizona from scoring? Their offense has to shoulder some of it, too, despite hitting four homers on Thursday night. The Nationals grounded into three double plays, and hit into nine in this series. All four of their homers were solo shots, and if there had been a runner on base for half of those, it would have been a different game.
The overall performance was ugly; Riggleman said as much in his postgame TV interview. It's the kind of game the Nationals haven't played in winning six of their last nine. But on Thursday night, they turned in an equal-opportunity stinker.