MIAMI - In the midst of a three-game losing streak, Nationals manager Matt Williams said he felt his team was close to turning things around before today’s game against the Marlins. Four hours later, after being blanked 8-0, it appears that gap has widened significantly.
“Well, 8-0 is pretty bad,” Williams said. “But today was one of those days where there was not much to say, other than they got some big hits (and) we didn’t. It’s a rough day for us, but we’ve got to respond. We have to respond tomorrow and play well. Not much other than that to say.”
Maybe so, but today’s starter, Stephen Strasburg, seemed to have plenty to say in what appeared to be a heated conversation with pitching coach Steve McCatty in the dugout after the fourth inning. The two appeared quite animated in the exchange caught on camera in the game broadcast on MASN.
In the clubhouse after, Strasburg wasn’t interested in further airing any differences.
“That’s something that’s gonna be kept between me and Cat,” Strasburg said. “Obviously, I’m a competitive person. It’s nothing that he did. It was nothing I did. It was nothing anybody did. It was just maybe a little bit of frustration. I’m just gonna leave it at that.”
Williams continued his postgame theme when asked about the incident.
“Nothing that I know of,” he said. “No, there was nothing we’re aware of.”
Strasburg made it six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts as his record falls to 1-2.
“I thought he was OK,” Williams said. “Much better fastball today than last time out, but not as much control of the changeup and curveball today. When he’s got all three of them working, he’s tough. Today, he really only had one of them that he really could rely on. Not bad, though. He gave us a chance.”
It didn’t matter much because the Nats couldn’t do anything against Marlins starter Tom Koehler. In suffering their first shutout loss of the year, the Nats never managed to advance a runner past second base.
“I dunno,” said left fielder Jayson Werth, who collected two of the Nats’ seven hits. “Definitely wasn’t our day today. A lopsided game, but the intent is there. We come in here every day ready to go. It just needs to turn for us. We’re going through a bad stretch for us right now, that’s for sure. But it’ll turn. It always does. We just have to stay positive and keep going. It’s too early to get frustrated.”
The Nats have scored only three runs in the past 33 innings during the four-game skid. A few days ago, rumors were swirling of a possible firing of Marlins manager Mike Redmond. Now the Marlins have won four in a row to even up with the reelinig Nationals at 7-11 in the standings.
“It seems like we’re just not in sync offensively,” Werth said. “We’re not getting timely hits. We’re getting good at-bats and all that, but we need to sync up. Maybe not having our whole lineup together all year yet, we’re still going through it a little bit. Hopefully, we’ll get Tony (Rendon) back and it’ll make a difference. But even then, we’ve gotta score more runs. We’ve gotta manufacture some runs and help us out. We’re just not doing it right now.”
Rendon, on the disabled list with a left knee injury, was 1-for-2 with a single and a walk in his second minor league rehab game at Double-A Harrisburg tonight. But it seems the problems reach far deeper than just putting him back in the lineup.
There’s certainly plenty of season left but owning three- and four-game losing streaks in April registers as cause for concern.
“Just gotta go out there and compete,” Strasburg said. “Keep pushing, keep grinding. I think we’re just coming to a stretch where sometimes you just don’t get any breaks. I think we gotta just go out there and just remember who we are and stick together and just keep playing hard.”