Game #44 Recap: When It Rains, It Pours.
The Nationals aimed to take the series win in San Diego to go 3 for 4 before heading off to San Francisco. Unfortunately, a 13-4 loss and more shaky defense would not allow the Nationals to do so. The Nationals will leave San Diego with a series split against a team that the Nationals were hoping to win a series over.
Dan Haren came out of the gate struggling Sunday Afternoon. He immediately gave up a single to Everth Cabrera. Cabrera then stole 2nd, then went to 3rd on a wild pitch from Dan Haren. Chase Headley got on base via the walk. Carlos Quentin doubled to bring in Cabrera, then a sac fly brought in Headley. A double from Jedd Gyorko then brought in the 3rd run in the 1st inning to put the Nationals in a 3-0 hole. It would turn out to be a deficit the Nationals would never overcome.
The Nationals were able to make it a 3-2 game in the 4th inning after 2B Steve Lombardozzi got on with a single, then Ryan Zimmerman drilled a home run to right field. A quick inning from Dan Haren immediately afterward created the sense that the Nationals could make a game out of this one, but in the bottom of the 5th inning the Padres would capitalize on the Nationals inability to tie it up. In the top of the 5th, the Nationals had Span and Lombardozzi on 3rd and 1st respectively, but Zimmerman would ground out to end the threat and leave the score 3-2. The Padres would then get a home run from Will Venable and Kyle Blanks, as well as an RBI single from Gyorko to make it 7-2.
The Nationals attempted another fight in the top of the 7th, when Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche plated 2 more runs to make it a 7-4 game and bring hope back to life. Hope, however, was quickly murdered again as the Padres would then put another 5 runs on the board off of Ryan Mattheus in the bottom of the 7th. The Padres would get one more run to make it 13-4 when Yonder Alonso hit a home run off of Drew Storen.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the loss on Sunday was, yet again, the defense. The Nationals are a team built on pitching and defense. It is accurate to say today that the Nationals pitching staff was not on, but they have been very good overall. The Nationals picked up 2 more errors today, giving them 38 on the season and the lead in Major League baseball for the dubious honor. The Nationals loss on Saturday was directly attributed to an error as Jordan Zimmermann threw the ball away to allow the go ahead run to get into scoring position, then gave up a hit to give San Diego the lead.
The Injury bug has not been kind to the Nationals either, who are missing some key cogs in the offense. Bryce Harper has sat out a few games due to a bruised knee and both Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos are on the 15 day DL due to hamstring stains. One has to know that the offense would be in a much better place with the stonger bats in the lineup.
Espinosa continues to struggle as well. The Nationals 2B started at short today to allow Ian Desmond the day off, but he went 0-4 with a strikeout and has seen his batting average tumble even further to .163. Espinosa's defense has not suffered one bit, but it is reasonable to speculate his shoulder, where he has torn his rotator cuff, is the source of his offensive struggles.
The Nationals head to San Francisco where Zach Duke will be the starter on Monday night to take over for the ailing Ross Detwiler. The Nationals will have to take 2 of the 3 games to have a .500 road trip overall.