Before today's game, manager Jim Riggleman talked optimistically about Yunesky Maya, about the ways in which struggling right-hander had gotten better in each outing and how he was headed toward being an effective starter, with his curveball as his out pitch.
We saw five innings of that today, but in the sixth, Maya has again unraveled.
He walked Martin Prado to start the inning, threw a wild pitch and then gave up two one-out hits to Derrek Lee and Nate McLouth. Then came that curveball, which usually has plenty of bite but hung up in the strike zone on Maya's first pitch to Alex Gonzalez. The shortstop swatted it into the left field stands, and the Braves lead the Nationals 5-0.
Maya leaves having allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings. He's got a 6.43 ERA this year, and the Nationals still have seen little evidence of a pitcher that received a four-year contract in July. Maya is a feel pitcher, like so many of the Nationals' starters, and when things aren't going well, he can't miss enough bats to get himself out of trouble. He'll have one more start this year, but he hasn't shown the Nationals much in 2010.