The lasting image of the Nationals' 1-0 loss to the Mets Thursday afternoon will be that of Jayson Werth leaping in disbelief in the ninth inning, yelling at first base umpire Phil Cuzzi after he called Werth out on a grounder to third, despite replays showing first baseman Daniel Murphy's foot off the bag and Werth arriving at the same time as the ball.
But let's say Werth is called safe. Is the ensuing Adam LaRoche grounder to second a game-ending double play, or does Laynce Nix score on the play to tie the game? No matter the answer, the point is the same: The Nationals did far too little, against another pitcher far too marginal, to complain much about blown calls.
They had just two hits against Dillon Gee in 7 2/3 innings, allowing the second-year right-hander to take a no-hitter into the sixth inning. They wound up with three hits for the day, got shut out for the fourth time in 10 games and seventh in 43 this season.
In his televised postgame interview on MASN2, manager Jim Riggleman said, "It shouldn't come down to that. We've got to do a better job offensively. It can't come down to, we've got to to get a call that way, because if you let the umpires get involved, that can happen."
Then, Riggleman said something even more telling.
"You show confidence in them that, look, we put this ballclub together. There's not other people that are going to wave a magic wand and somebody else is going to show up. This is our ballclub. This is what we put together. This is what we have confidence in, and we've got to turn it around. But let's turn it around yesterday. This early stuff is nonsense. It's not early."
We've talked about how little room the Nationals have in terms of roster flexibility a few times, and while it's true they're going to get Ryan Zimmerman back in another 3 1/2 weeks, they've got long-term pieces in place at many of their starting positions. Several of you have mentioned putting Adam LaRoche on the disabled list, but LaRoche and everyone else involved continue to say his left shoulder injury isn't hurting his swing, and Chris Marrero (whose name has come up) is struggling at Triple-A Syracuse, too.
So it would seem the Nationals are largely going to have to move forward with what they have, and they need to get going soon. They're three games under .500, and a game behind the Mets for fourth place in the NL East. And in what looked like an easy stretch of their schedule, they've started 1-2.
"You know what? Somebody's going to pay for this," Riggleman vowed in his post-game interview with Bob Carpenter and FP Santangelo. "We're going to start hitting."
They had plenty of strong words Thursday afternoon, but they're still in need of strong bats.