On a night where Washington racked up 11 hits while holding Florida to just four, the Nationals came away with the loss, 2-0.
It was one of those scenes that has become all too familiar to Nats fans the last several months. A team that finally has the ability to make outs, and the ability to rack up hits, but seemingly doesn’t have the ability, for whatever reason, to put it all together for a win. Again Nationals fans would see a resurrected-from-the-dead starting pitcher overachieve on the mound, as Livan Hernandez tossed junk for six innings allowing only one earned run while striking out six. Yet despite another stellar performance Hernandez would lose his sixth game of the season, and the Nationals would fall to 40-51.
Of course, it didn’t help that the hurler on the mound for Florida was arguably the best pitcher in the National League so far this season, Josh Johnson. Johnson has combined a nasty combination of strikeout stuff (130 on the season) with ground ball forcing ability (49%) to put up a 10-3 record with and a NL low 1.62 ERA.
Despite giving up seven hits Johnson was able to contain the Nationals by forcing them into an 11-4 ground ball ratio and striking them out seven times while giving up no free passes. The Nats got on base against the ace, but simply couldn’t convert in key situations as evidenced by Johnson’s extremely high .353 WPA on the night. Simply put, Johnson made the outs when he needed to, and the Nationals didn’t get the hits when they needed to.
The biggest scapegoat on the night was Josh Willingham. The Hammer lined out in the first to end the inning with two runners on base, struck out to lead off the fourth and sixth innings, and popped out in the eighth with a runner on first. Four big outs culminating in a game low -.171 WPA on the night.
He wasn’t alone though. Adam Dunn struck out three times on the night, and Ian Desmond made his 22nd error of the season resulting in an unearned run.