The Washington Nationals have not scored since the seventh inning of Monday's 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The scoreless streak spans three days, 19 innings and two shut out losses to the injury-depleted New York Mets.
Today's three-hit, 1-0 loss to Dillon Gee, Tim Byrdak and Francisco Rodriguez is just the latest example of the Nationals' struggles all season long to muster any sort of offensive production. This was the seventh time the Nats have been shut out this season, and the loss drops them to 20-23, falling behind the Mets into last place in the N.L. East.
And it's a shame, really, because their own starter, Livan Hernandez, pitched a gem himself. The veteran gave up just one earned run on seven hits and two walks, striking out seven. He even broke up Gee's no-hit bid in the sixth with a single up the middle.
On top of their own problems, the Nats had their final rally in the ninth cut off by first base umpire Phil Cuzzi, who called Jayson Werth out at first on a play where Daniel Murphy was clearly pulled off the bag by third baseman Justin Turner's throw. With two outs, Adam LaRoche's terrible start continued, as he grounded weakly into the shift for the final out of the game, stranding Laynce Nix at third base.
"Look, we put this ballclub together," manager Jim Riggleman said to MASNSports.com after the game. "There's not other people who are gonna -- waive a magic wand and somebody else is gonna show up. This is our ballclub, this is what we put together, this is what we have confidence in and we gotta turn it around. But, let's turn it around yesterday. This early stuff is nonsense, it's not early."
The frustration in Riggleman's voice and mannerisms on the video were obvious. And he's absolutely correct in that it's not early anymore. This team has been able to keep within hailing distance of .500 all season thus far, scraping by offensively while receiving solid starting and usually excellent relief.
But things have a tendency to snowball, and if the Nats can't find some success this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles, another team with offensive troubles of their own, the season might ultimately fall victim to their lack of production.
It's not early anymore. If the Nats are going to be respectable this season, they need to find their bats yesterday, just like the manager said.
THE GOOD: Livo! His record drops to 3-6, but his ERA is a solid 3.64 after another great job. Has lost his last two games by identical 1-0 scores.
THE BAD: 3-for-29 with three walks. That's it.
THE UGLY: Hate to keep harping on a guy, but Adam LaRoche in the middle of the order is killing this team right now.
THE STATS: Three hits, three walks, three strikeouts. 0-for-4 with RISP, five LOB, two GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:05 against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Jason Marquis (5-1, 3.54) goes for the Nats. Orioles have not announced a starter as of this posting.