The newest Washington National, Scott Hairston, collected a hit in the first at bat of the game, but was quickly doubled up. Jayson Werth homered with one down in the second, but after the solo blast to left-center in Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies' lefty Cole Hamels set 16 of the next 18 batters down before Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back two-out singles in the top of the seventh inning. An 0-2 fastball from Hamels popped Kurt Suzuki up to end the inning and preserve the Phillies' 4-1 lead.
The Nats threatened again in the top of the eighth with Scott Hairston and Ian Desmond connecting for back-to-back one-out singles before Bryce Harper worked the first and only walk of the night out of Hamels to load the bases. The walk to Harper earned Hamels a visit from Phillies' skipper Charlie Manuel.
"I just said, 'I'm not out here to take you out,'" Manuel told reporters after the game, "I said, 'I came out here to look at you.' And he kind of grinned. And I said, 'You got him.' And he says, 'I got him.' That was good, really. I liked the way he kind of grinned at me and said, 'I got him.'"
Nationals' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and went down swinging at an 0-2 fastball up in the zone from the Phillies' left-hander. Jayson Werth started down 0-2 to his former teammate and battled back to work the count full before flying out to center to end Hamels' night after eight innings in which he allowed six hits, one run and the base-loading walk to Harper while striking out four.
"He threw a heck of a game," Manuel said after the Phillies' second straight win over the Nationals. "Absolutely outstanding. And he got out of the jam, of course, in the eighth inning. I liked everything about it." Hamels improved to (14-6) in 26 career starts against the Nationals in which he's posted a 2.57 ERA with 44 walks (2.31 BB/9) and 177 Ks (9.28 K/9) in 171 2/3 IP against the Phillies' NL East divisional rivals.
"We didn't get nothing going," Davey Johnson told reporters, including MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko, after the Nats' loss. "Tip your hat to him. Hamels pitched a good game. Give them credit." Hamels was just the latest left-hander to dominate the Nationals' hitters this season. Following last night's loss the Nats have a NL-worst .215/.281/.336 line vs LHP, with the lowest BABIP (.253) against left-handers as well.
Johnson didn't have an explanation for the Nats' continuing struggles against southpaws. "I don't know," Johnson was quoted stating in last night's post game press conference. "I made my living off left-handers late in my career. I liked them. For some reason or another we get 'em in a jam, we don't get the hit. We got him tired there at the end and had the right guys up, we just didn't get the job done."
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked about his team's issues with lefties on this morning's edition of 106.7 the FAN In D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier.
"We put together the roster and the lineup, we thought it was a very balanced lineup," Rizzo said. "We felt that we were going to excel against left-handed pitching. We get that the lefties in this league are pretty darn good, but whenever you're struggling with left-handed pitching, it comes down to your right-handed hitters. Because your right-handers have to do most of the damage against good left-handed starting pitching."
"You look at the at bats we put on yesterday with Cole [Hamels]," Rizzo continued, "who is one of the elite left-handed pitchers in the game, and I liked the at bats they put in. I liked the way they were grinding them out. We hit a few balls on the nose. It just seems like when we get guys on base, we just can't capitalize. Either you're flying out to the wall at 398 [ft.]. Or you're hitting it to the wrong part of the park and if it's over five feet it's a home run, if it's left five feet it's a home run. Those things, we've got to get out of our minds and just get runners in. And to me, the two most important statistics offensively in baseball are runs scored and runs driven in because if you're driving them in that means you're doing your job and if you're scoring them that means you're getting on base for your other guys."
"We just haven't done it," Rizzo concluded. "We haven't gotten it done. And against left-handed pitching, it's your right-handed part of your lineup that's got to get it done."
Last night it was Zimmerman and Werth in the eighth who couldn't drive in runs with the bases loaded. Zimmerman was 0 for 4 with two Ks. Werth's home run accounted for the only run against Hamels, and he ended the night 1 for 4 vs Hamels.
On the year, however, Zimmerman has a .291/.404/.494 line against LHP. Werth has a .273/.344/.491 line vs lefties. Ian Desmond, who was 1 for 4 last night, has a .272/.318/.469 line vs left-handers. Adam LaRoche? LaRoche has a .246/.301/.437 line against lefties in his career. This season it's down to .193/.253/.337. Denard Span, who has a .278/.358/.373 career line against left-handers, has a .154/.222/.176 line vs lefties this year. Bryce Harper, who had a .240/.300/.415 line vs lefties in his rookie campaign in 2012, has a .196/.313/.333 line vs LHP this year.