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Nats drop 5th straight in another ugly one

Aug 16, 2015, 6:00 AM EST

USA Today

After Saturday night’s 12-6 loss to San Francisco, the fifth straight defeat for the Nationals overall and their third straight to the Giants, it’s hard to imagine that just over a month ago the Nats swept this very same team in a July 4th series in Washington.

But here we are six weeks later with two teams on very different trajectories. The Nationals have allowed 23 runs in three games so far this series at AT&T Park and on Sunday they will be in danger of a four-game sweep.

And not only did they lose on Saturday, the Nats saw Bryce Harper leave in the seventh inning with a left leg injury and Steve McCatty get tossed in a rare ejection of a pitching coach.

Speaking of pitching, the positive momentum Gio Gonzalez was carrying in recent starts came to a screeching halt early in this particular loss. Gonzalez had a 1.48 ERA in his previous eight games but only lasted 2/2 innings in this one, his shortest outing since Sept. 14, 2010. He gave up six earned runs to match a season-high in what was his first loss since June 15.

This was the second time in as many nights a Nationals starter was spotted an early lead and couldn’t take advantage, as Max Scherzer was removed after just three innings in Friday night’s loss. The last time Nats starters were bounced in three innings or less on consecutive nights was Sept. 10-11 of 2011 (John Lannan and Stephen Strasburg).

Scherzer has been their best pitcher all season and he’s being paid like it. Gio had been arguably their best pitcher in recent weeks. Yet both could not stop the bleeding in what has become an absolute disaster of a road trip.

The Nationals are now 1-5 on this West Coast swing and have lost 12 of their last 16 games. They are 10-19 since the All-Star break and now sit at the .500 mark for the first time since May 8.

Fortunately for the Nats, the New York Mets lost for the second consecutive night, so the division deficit remains at 4 1/2 games. But, for the second straight night, the Nationals squandered an opportunity to gain some ground in the NL East.

Saturday night on its own produced some positives and some negatives. There were good moments for the offense, which has been a problem for the Nats in recent weeks. They have now scored five runs or more in consecutive games for the first time since July 24-25. Ian Desmond hit one of the longest home runs you will ever see at AT&T Park and now has eight in his last 25 games. Danny Espinosa also smacked one over the fence, his first career pinch-hit home run. He has homered in consecutive games.

But yet again the Nats’ bullpen did their part in making matters even worse. After Gio gave up six runs, the relievers behind him combined to allow six more. Tanner Roark was charged with three in 2 1/3 innings of work. Felipe Rivero pitched two innings and gave up another. And then Drew Storen allowed two on three hits in one inning of work.

Rivero has given up runs in consecutive outings and in four of his last eight appearances. Storen has allowed multiple runs in each of his last four outings. Storen has basically gone from a shut-down closer to an utter liability in a matter of weeks.

The Nationals have lost three straight games against the Giants for the first time since 2010 and on Sunday they are in serious danger of making it four. They will have rookie Joe Ross (3-4, 3.44) going up against World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner (13-6, 3.15). If the Nats are to break this losing streak on Sunday, they will have to do it the hard way.

  1. nattygoats - Aug 16, 2015 at 7:09 AM

    Insufferable. Unwatchable. And just plain pathetic. I said 2. 8 on this trip and was killed for it. I’m thinking 58 and 104. Fire MW today

  2. robertrobert104 - Aug 16, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    game over, they chocked. Congrat’s Mets….

  3. veejh - Aug 16, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    I hate to say it, but put a fork in this season (and please prove me wrong, please)!

    There’s just too many issues right now to overcome. Every facet stinks…. BP, starters, hitting.

  4. stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    Whatever disease this team has, has metastasized to every part of its game.

    • naterialguy - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:16 AM

      Could it be pappelbon?

      • ccallahan15 - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:17 AM

        Maybe he brought the “stinky cheese” karma with him

      • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:47 AM

        He’s a Jonah! Throw him overboard!

  5. joemktg - Aug 16, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    In terms of team slumps vs. expectations, this one is spectacular.

    “I’ve dropped into the abyss and I can’t get up.”

  6. veejh - Aug 16, 2015 at 8:48 AM

    Storen gives up 2 more runs. He’s fallen off the table. I think the demotion finally got to him.

    • veejh - Aug 16, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      I think Storen and the Nats are damaged goods now. Rizzo’s has shown multiple times now that he just doesn’t trust Drew and there’s no repairing the damage. He could flourish somewhere else, trade him this offseason.

  7. jeromeaquino - Aug 16, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    I don’t send in comments often but felt the need to now. As bad as things look, the fact is that the Nats are only 4.5 games behind the Mets. They have 6 games left between the two teams. In other words, the Nats can still pull this out. If we can cut the lead down to 2 games by September 1, this is a real race to the finish. The question is what to do now. I would:

    1. Bring Trea Turner up. They need a spark. Look for a way to get him in the game. He may provide what Harper did for the team in 2012. It is worth taking a chance on him.
    2. Platoon 50 50 Ramos and Lobaton. Ramos has been a real disappointment.
    3. Platoon at short between Desmond and Espinosa.
    4. Consider placing Espinosa in left field from time to time as a way to get him in the game or for Rendon at 2B. Maybe Werth’s day has passed.
    5. Only play Robinson at first base. Great story but he is not an outfielder. Whoever is hot at first (Robinson or Zimm) go with him.
    6. Stop blaming the coach. He does not hit, catch or throw. Not much strategy can be employed when the team loses by 4 or 5 runs.

    • rabbit433 - Aug 16, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      I wouldn’t bring up Turner. At the end of the season he would have nothing but negative thoughts absorbed from such a losing team. You want him to end his year on a positive note. There is nothing wrong with the rest of your ideas. Your attitude is also positive which is hard to find in here now. Even the big positive posters who call anyone with negativity a troll, are beginning to sound that way themselves. Losing will do that to one.

      • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:34 AM

        Baloney. Not all who criticize are trolls. But those who disappear into the shadows when the team is playing well then immediately reappear to show their hindparts when things head south… well, what else would you call them?

      • abqnatsfan - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:50 AM

        Disappointed fans.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:59 PM

        All Nats fans are disappointed, dismayed, what have you. No one is happy with the way the last three weeks have gone. So there’s a lot of venting and blowing off steam that goes on, and everyone gets that. It’s the fans who only appear when things are bad so they can pile on that seem like trolls. It’s like the 90’s song “only happy when it rains.”

        In what universe (other than talk radio) is spreading anger, vitriol, gloom, despair and abuse a way to generate a positive response?

      • Section 222 - Aug 16, 2015 at 2:14 PM

        stoatva, I’d call them fans who use this board to blow off steam and express this displeasure, but don’t feel have as much interest in talking about it when things are going good. Have you noticed that some of the “regulars” who post constantly when things are going well are nowhere to be found today? I don’t blame them. I don’t have as much interest in talking about the Nats when they are playing poorly. I try to focus my attention on other things to avoid getting depressed. Does that make me a fair weather fan? Maybe. But everyone has their own way of dealing with adversity and name-calling doesn’t help anyone.

        There’s one particular poster here who posts a lot of negative comments and takes a lot of abuse for it. He also travels to other cities to see the Nats play and wears his Nats gear in opposing teams ballparks. Is he a troll? I don’t think so. Are you and I “better” fans than he is? Definitely not.

  8. manassasnatsfan - Aug 16, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    This is very parallel to the 2005 season, where we were fine until the all star break, and was less than mediocre the second half the season.

    Rizzo didn’t do anything at the trading deadline to help. Needed an 8th inning guy went and got a closer instead and backfired big time.

    Needed a hitter and let the Nets get him instead.

    That being done if the great pitchers pitched their ability instead of mediocre we could still have won (and still can), but no one is taking leadership from Rizzo down.

  9. Nats Fan Zee - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    “we were fine until the all star break”

    No we were not. We had a streak end of April for 4 weeks and again a week in June where we dominated. The rest of the year we have not fared well at all. You can’t win anything playing great 5 weeks out of 18 (6 to go). Can this turn around? Yep but the chances are very slim. Anyway, lets plat them and find out!

    It is what it is.

  10. Jfmii - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    It can certainly look like a lack of leadership when hitters don’t hit, fielders don’t field, and telling for these 2015 Nationals, pitchers don’t pitch

    • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has feathers and webbed feet like a duck…

  11. ehay2k - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Need to sacrifice a chicken. Not sure what happened to Gio in the 3rd but it was a mess. The AB by Peavy was an embarrassment to Gio and Lobo.

    Right now the Nats seem to be focusing on possible negative outcomes. Up by 2, with the opposing SP on the ropes, they play not to lose. Peavy should have been at 100 pitches through 4, but not with this squad. We let him off the hook and it wasn’t like he was striking out everyone on 3 pitches. We just got ourselves out on one or two. That was the real hitting problem – lack of plate discipline. Unlike the Giants, who made Gio prove he could get them out.

    Another game today.

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:56 AM

      The Peavy at bat felt like the turning point in Gio and the game to me. He needed to simply refuse to walk him – looked like he was trying to be too perfect. The walk changed the game and sent Gio on a downward spiral he couldn’t get his head out of.

      • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:18 AM

        Agreed. At that point you knew things were not going to end well, although I didn’t see six runs coming.

  12. raleighnat - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    Well, Rizzo it should be liberating this offseason. He gave it the old college try, assembled what was perceived as good talent, but they all ended up sucking. I would consider blowing things up big time just on principle.

  13. joemktg - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    At a glance moving forward, the Nats’ remaining schedule looks weak. However, the same holds true for the Mets.

    They’re going to need help from the Mets for the remainder of the season. Perhaps Mets get swept by Yanks, and Nats sweep Mets at home. But the Mets have to trip up somewhere.

  14. scnatsfan - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    How MW is keeping his job is beyond me

    • paulfortier - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      Like you, I don’t understand why he is still there.

    • lphboston - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:17 PM

      He must have pictures.

  15. scmargenau - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    We would need to win at 68% clip while mets go 50 percent. Looking at how we are playing, and how the mets are plating that’s extremely unlikely.

    • Section 222 - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      You said this the other day, and it sounded wrong. Still does. Check your math. If the Mets win half of their remaining games (23-23), they finish with 86 wins. For the Nats to finish with 87 wins, they have to win 29 of their remaining 47 games. 29-18 is a 62% clip.

      How well the Nats have to do is totally dependent on how the Mets play. So perhaps it’s time to break out a magic number for the Mets. It’s 43.

  16. philipd763 - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:01 AM

    FIRE MATT WILLIAMS now!

  17. stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:12 AM

    My optimistic contribution for the day is: If the Pirates can get past Harvey today for a three game sweep at Citi, the Mets and their fans are going to feel their collars tightening considerably. It is not clear, unfortunately, that the Nats are prepared to capitalize.

    But just under that superficial euphoria, all true Mets fans are wondering when the wheels will fall off.

    • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:28 AM

      Reasons to be cheerful, part two: Mets’ next three series are at Camden Yards, CoorsField and Citizens’ Bank. Not very pitcher-friendly.

      If we can get within a couple of games by September 1, I think it’s game on. That’s a big “if,” I realize.

  18. joemktg - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    The Spirit of Steinbrenner lives in some of these posts.

  19. exposedindc - Aug 16, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    We can blame MW all we want, he didnt demote a 15 game winner out of the rotation, he didnt take a lights out closer out of the closers role, he didnt fail to acquire a real left fielder at the deadline, these things matter…this team has been dysfunctional since the start of the season. Rizzos ego took precident, no question.

  20. robertrobert104 - Aug 16, 2015 at 12:05 PM

    Well, the don’t play good baseball, that’s for sure. they don’t play well the basics of baseball, they are supposed to be good players, but it doesn’t show…who is to blame? Rizzo? Williams? The players? Or they are just a bunch of chokers who can’t overcome the adversity? Maybe all of the above. But, boy, it is a very bad team who play very bad baseball…..and kudos to the Mets !

  21. natsfan1a - Aug 16, 2015 at 12:16 PM

    I’ve only seen one of the games from this road trip and thus haven’t commented on what has transpired of late. Won’t see today’s game, either, as I’ll be out and about until later tonight. I will be hoping for a happy game result because, well, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not. [aaand obscure movie reference mode off]

  22. natsguy - Aug 16, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    At least they’ll get better draft picks this year. The minors are getting pretty thin other than 3 or 4 players. They have been drafting fairly old players for quite awhile In Rizzo you might trust but there is some fixing to do and there isn’t much in the system to do it with. Maybe now is the time for some selling before the 31st. If you don’t think they are going to be in the playoffs (duh) you might as well get something for players you aren’t going to be able sign.

    • NatsLady - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:06 PM

      Agree with you on the farm system which didn’t make MLB’s top ten in the most recent release. However, actually, there is both youth and talent at the lower levels, just not a lot at the AA and AAA levels (Giolito and Turner excepted, of course, and maybe Difo).

      • natsguy - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:38 PM

        I agree there’s a couple. But they are all about 2 or three years away.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 16, 2015 at 2:16 PM

        Actually the Nats farm system has gotten a fair amount of love this year on a lot of minor league sites. Even Keith Law has said nice things about them, John Sickels at minorleagueball has praised the system this year and so has Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs.

        For years Nats fans would try to take heart from the seeming success of the minor league teams, who often had winning records. The problem was that a lot of those records were obtained with retread major leaguers and past-prospect-age minor leaguers playing against younger competition. It worked at the minor league level, but didn’t project well to the majors. If anything the system is the opposite of that now – right now Hagerstown is the only team above .500, and even the Suns are only just over (58-57). But there is a lot of real upside talent in the system that gets a lot of attention. Joe Ross will “graduate” today (he will lose his rookie status when he gets one out in the first inning), but obviously he’s been a major addition. Together with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Erick Fedde the Nationals have a lot of pitching in the pipeline. On position players in the middle infield Turner and Difo have both been playing well and are close, with Turner obviously being a top prospect. There are catchers (Reetz, Severino, Read) and outfielders (Stevenson, Robles) with upside potential also, but unfortunately they are still likely a couple of years off.

        So while they may not have made MLB’s Top Ten, they are in the top ten conversation. Don’t be fooled by the W/L records of the teams; the purpose of the minors is to develop talent for the major league team. Despite the poor drafting position the past few years the Nationals have been able to continue doing that, and look likely to continue to do so in the short- to middle-range future.

  23. nattygoats - Aug 16, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    MW is surely to blame. The players don’t respect him so they have basically quit. Why should the players respect him. He is a complete buffoon and they know it.

  24. NatsLady - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    It only took two weeks for the Nats playoff odds to go from 69% to 37% and for the Mets to go from 31% to 69%. That says to me the fortunes can reverse just as quickly. I’m not saying they will, just saying they can. Today will be rough, with Bumgarner and Harvey going.

    But not everything goes according to plan. I sure thought with the Giants’ offense slumping and weak pitchers going up, we’d cleanup with our good pitching and all our “regular” lineup active except Span. Didn’t happen. So maybe today Joe Ross pitches his heart out, and Bum stumbles, and the Buccos figure out Matt Harvey. Be strong!

    • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:10 PM

      Pick up a game a week and voila!

    • natsguy - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:39 PM

      The trouble is lack of games left to turn it around and what to turn it around with.

      • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:42 PM

        Plenty of games, as far as that’s concerned.

        Team needs to find some answers, for sure. But Desmond is a good example of how quickly things CAN turn around. They might, they might not. Let’s play the games.

    • mnmindc - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      I agree with this completely. The Nats won 98, 86, and 96 (if my memory is right) the past three years with largely the same players. You don’t luck into success like that. They’re playing badly and out of sync but they absolutely have the talent — and 6 games with the Mets — to turn it around. And they are incredibly lucky to be playing .500 ball on the season and only be 4.5 out with, and this is important too, nobody else in the division challenging the Mets. Can the Nats play five games better than the Mets in the next month and a half? Absolutely. Will they? Who knows. Things can turn very quickly in this game. So why give up now?

      • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 2:31 PM

        Some people resort to cheap cynicism and unrelenting negativity to protect themselves emotionally from disappointment.

      • NatsLady - Aug 16, 2015 at 2:40 PM

        @stoatva I think you are right. What else can explain so much negativity BEFORE the fact.

        Me. #1 It’s not winter. It’s wonderfully hot and humid and even though it’s dark at 6 a.m. (grrrrrrrrr!) it IS still summer.
        #2 My boys are playing baseball. Sometimes they are exhilerating (3-4-1, anyone), sometimes they disappoint me (Gio 6 Bullpen 6). But they are my boys and I love them and when they’re not playing I mess them terribly.
        #3 It ain’t over til it’s over. Yes, there will come a time when I am packing away my Nats gear into big black bags. Hopefully it will be in November.

  25. natswoobooho - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    Such positive posts and todays game hasn’t even started.

  26. stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:38 PM

    Alvarez takes Harvey deep. 1-0 Bucs in second.

    • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      Ishikawa hammers a meatball to tie it back up.

      • stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:50 PM

        d’Arnaud, duh. Ishikawa was the LF watching it go out.

  27. stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:46 PM

    It’s gonna make me barf to pull for the O’s against the Mets, but I’ll do it.

    • NatsLady - Aug 16, 2015 at 1:58 PM

      Yeah, me too. I played Parra today in draft kings & he just homered. Just getting used to being positive about the O’s. 😉

  28. NatsLady - Aug 16, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    Ump is calling low strikes for Harvey.

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