31-year-old Rockies' lefty Jeff Francis faced the same lineup he'll see today when the Washington Nationals traveled to Coors Field in Colorado last month. The '02 1st Round pick held the Nats' bats to two run on five hits in 5.0 IP in a 4-2 Rockies' win. After the game, Nationals' manager Davey Johnson told reporters something had to change. "We just didn't go anything against [Francis]," Johnson said, "He threw a lot of offspeed pitches to us. Our approach wasn't very good. Just got to get something going here."
"I think we're getting caught in between," the Nats' skipper explained, "We're getting caught in between fastballs and breaking balls and we're chasing out of the zone. We've got some more veteran hitters that are doing the same thing, but the younger guys are more guilty." Johnson said he planned to go into some of the pregame meeting with hitters because he wasn't happy with their approach, especially against a pitcher like Francis. "We didn't hardly get any good at bats against Francis," Johnson continued, "And Francis is featuring basically an 84 mph fastball, a little changeup and slow hook. The guy that hit the ball hardest was my pitcher. [Ian Desmond] got one, but we've got too much talent not to be swinging the bats better."
The Nationals scored 12 runs on 21 hits in the next game. 11 on 14 in game three. 10 on 14 in the fourth game. The Nats scored five runs or more in each of the next eight games before last night's 5-1 loss to the Rockies. The bats woke up, but another Rockies' lefty shut them down last night and they've got to face Francis again today. The left-hander threw 6.0 shutout innings against San Diego after his start against Washington and gave up two runs on five hits in a 3-2 win over St. Louis to win two straight heading into this afternoon's outing against Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez in Nationals Park.
• Here's the lineup he'll face this afternoon:
#Nationals lineup vs. COL - Espinosa 4, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, Morse 9, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Moore 7, Flores 2, G. Gonzalez 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) July 7, 2012