MIAMI - Things started well enough for the Nationals at Sun Life Stadium tonight; in his first pitch back in the lineup, Ian Desmond shot a fastball from Chris Volstad back up the middle, and hustled his way to second for a leadoff double. One pitch, and his 0-for-13 slump was over.
But two batters later, Desmond tried going to third on a ground ball in front of him. He got caught in a rundown, and after Adam LaRoche walked, Michael Morse hit into a fielder's choice at third to end the inning.
The Nationals are now 4-for-36 with runners in scoring position this year, and in the first inning, we saw two big reasons why. First, even though Desmond had their first hit from a leadoff man, they still haven't gotten the leadoff hitter safely to third base all season. And Morse is in a legitimate slump to start the year after his torrid spring; he's hitting .143, and he's without an extra-base hit. If he's not producing, the Nationals' lineup configuration simply isn't going to work.
We're in the bottom of the first, and though Livan Hernandez got a double play, he's walked two batters - or half as many as the Nationals' starting staff had walked in the first four games combined.