PHILADELPHIA – For the past three weeks, the Nationals had been playing a much more watchable brand of baseball, made possible in large part by a vast improvement in the field.
Having spent the vast majority of the season trotting out the majors’ worst defense, the Nats have seen that problem area morph into a real strength since the arrival of 21-year-old shortstop CJ Abrams, which allowed Luis García to move to his more natural position at second base, while journeyman Ildemaro Vargas became a rock-solid addition at third base.
Then came tonight’s 8-5 loss at Citizens Bank Park, in which the Nationals reverted back to all their worst habits from this now 91-loss season, from poor starting pitching to a lack of sustained offense to unsightly defense.
The defensive miscues stood out more than anything else, because this team had looked so impressive in the field during their recent upswing. Officially, the Nats were charged with two errors (one by Vargas, one by César Hernández) but that doesn’t come close to telling the full story.
"Our infield didn't throw the ball well today," manager Davey Martinez said. "But they've been playing really well, so I'm just going to chalk it up to one of those nights, and come back tomorrow."