It was an ugly one offensively once again for the Nationals as they were shut out by the Cardinals at home. Davey was frustrated following the loss, indicating it was time to “get a little mad” and that there would be some changes in the lineup for Wednesday’s afternoon game. Hopefully, it’s enough to give the Nats a boost. Until then, the Nats have to sit on a 2-0 loss as they fall to 10-10 on the season.
Ross Detwiler continued his early success by facing the minimum in the first, second, and third innings, despite allowing a base runner in each inning, by getting a Cardinals hitter ground into a double play to end each inning. He got out of the first on a broken bat roller by Matt Holliday and a 6-4-3 double play, the second on a nifty 4-6-3 double play started by a Danny Espinosa backhanded glove flip to Ian Desmond, and the third with an unconventional 2-6-4 double play on a failed Adam Wainwright sacrifice bunt attempt.
The fourth inning was a bit less smooth for Detwiler. He allowed hits to the first four hitters he faced, allowing the Cards to tack on two runs. Unlike the hits in the first three innings, none of these were cheap. Each batter made solid contact. He was able to get out of the jam by retiring Yadier Molina, David Freese, and Matt Carpenter to end the inning without any further damage, though.
As if one crazy double play wasn’t enough, in the fifth inning, Pete Kozma, once again, singled. Wainwright tried to sacrifice him over, and Rendon threw it to first for the easy out. Kozma, however, attempted to catch the Nats sleeping, going first to third on a sac bunt. LaRoche threw a bullet to Detwiler, who was covering third, to record the unusual sacrifice 5-4-1 double play. Got all that? Good.
Detwiler finished his day with a with a nice line: six innings, two runs, eight hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. Four Cardinals grounded into double plays on his watch. While you’d rather not see eight hits and two walks in six innings, he was able to manage and minimize the damage. It was up to the Nats offense to try to help him avoid an undeserved loss.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Nats had their first offensive opportunity of the game. Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a single and, following a Roger Bernadina strikeout, went first-to-third on a Denard Span single. Jayson Werth sent a pop up to second on the first pitch of hit at bat, but Bryce Harper, the Nats only baserunner before this inning, drew a walk in a very patient at bat to load the bases for Adam LaRoche. LaRoche quickly fell behind 0-2, but he got the count back in his favor before striking out for the third time in the game to end the rally.
Henry Rodriguez came in to relieve Detwiler, and he pitched exceptionally well. He allowed just one base hit in two innings of work. He struck out two batters in his second inning, and though he committed a balk to advance Shane Robinson to second, it caused no real damage. He’s been pitching much better lately. He’s only given up a run in one of his last six games, and he now has a very reasonable 3.24 ERA.
The Nats tried to threaten again in the eighth. Steve Lombardozzi, who is now hitting .357 on the season and is doing his best to find his way into the lineup more often, dropped another broken bat single over the first baseman. A nice slide by Lombo and Span’s speed broke up a double play, and Span advanced to second on a wild pitch. Werth wasn’t able to get the job done, though, grounding to short to end the inning.
Harper wasn’t ready for this game to end without pulling out all the stops in the ninth. He singled down the right field line to lead off the inning on what, for any other player, would probably be a single. He stretched it into a double, though it was a very close play at second. It probably wasn’t the best decision given the circumstances, but he made it work.
Adam LaRoche stood as a statue as he struck out looking, his fourth strikeout of the game, and Ian Desmond popped out to second. Chad Tracy took the first pitch and flew out to right to end the game, ending the final attempt at a rally for the game.
It’s hard to draw positives from a game where a team got shut out and mustered just four hits, but there are two things to take from it. The pitching was absolutely great, and the defense showed no signs of wavering. They turned four double plays successfully, including a couple of non-traditional ones, and LaRoche made two great plays at first, one in foul territory and one pick on a grounder to end the eighth.
Offensively, though, the Nats are just pressing. The hard hit balls, and there are a few, are going right at opposing fielders, and good, patient hitters have stopped taking pitches and are rolling over terrible pitches. The Nats hitters will work their way out of it, but it is not fun to watch in the mean time.