Waiting for the offense to come around

It seems there’s been a bit of a power outage in D.C. over the last couple weeks.

The Nationals, a team that on paper has a balanced, skilled lineup with a nice mix of guys who reach base at a high clip and can mash the ball out of the park, have seen their bats go quiet recently, to the surprise to some of the guys in the clubhouse.

“We’re not getting the big hits,” Adam LaRoche said. “A lot of quick innings. Not a ton of baserunners. And five or six guys that aren’t swinging the bat real good. When it rains, it pours.”

I guess it’s pouring right now.

As a team, the Nationals are hitting .240, and their on-base percentage has dropped to .307. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in nearly half of their games this season (eight of 19, to be exact) and that includes three of their last four - all losses.

When I asked manager Davey Johnson about the Nats’ recent offensive woes, he could’ve complemented the pitching that the Nats have faced, but instead went the opposite route and expressed some rare frustration.

“I didn’t think with the exception of (Matt) Harvey - he threw a pretty good game against us - I didn’t think anybody else out there should’ve been shutting us down that much,” Johnson said.

Translation: The Nats aren’t being overpowered, they just aren’t getting the job done.

Danny Espinosa is hitting .176 on the season. LaRoche has three homers but is batting a lowly .185. Ryan Zimmerman, on the DL with a strained left hamstring, will see his average at .226 until he returns to action.

Outside of Bryce Harper, no everyday player is hitting above .300 this season.

The guys on the bench, with the exception of Steve Lombardozzi, have made a minimal impact.

Chad Tracy is 3-for-22 (.136), Tyler Moore is 3-for-19 (.158) and Roger Bernadina is still hitless on the season in 15 at-bats.

As pinch-hitters, those three are a combined 1-for-18 with seven strikeouts.

Despite putting up just five hits last night, the Nats had some chances late in the game. In the eighth, Denard Span singled and Bryce Harper walked, but LaRoche grounded out and Desmond struck out looking to end another quality chance.

They also put two runners on in the seventh when Espinosa singled and Kurt Suzuki walked, giving Tracy a chance to come through with a big pinch-hit.

Tracy lofted a fly ball to shallow center that looked for a few seconds like it was going to drop, but Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay used his impressive speed to get to the proper spot and then skid along the turf to make the grab just in time.

That ball drops and the Nats tie the game and have the top of the order up with a chance to take the lead. But it didn’t, and the Nats ended up losing another tight ballgame.

Ross Detwiler goes for the Nationals tonight, he of the 0.90 ERA. The way the left-hander has been pitching lately, he might not need much run support.

It surely wouldn’t hurt to get the bats going, however.

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