The Washington Nationals trailed 5-0 after two and a half innings of this afternoon in the second game of three with the New York Mets. Nats' left fielder Nate McLouth doubled to start the bottom of the third, and though starter Gio Gonzalez was likely done for the day on the mound, Nationals' manager Matt Williams sent the left-hander up to the plate to try to bunt McLouth over to third.
Gonzalez popped up on the attempt, however, and two outs after he failed to move the runner over, McLouth was stranded at second when Denard Span and Anthony Rendon both grounded out unproductively to end the inning.
"He was coming out anyway," Matt Williams explained after the 5-2 loss when asked about the decision to leave Gonzalez in to hit there.
"At that point we don't know how the rest of the game is going to go, so it was a situation where he could go up there and bunt and move a guy to third and get possibly a run there in that inning, to try to get back in it, but he was going to hit anyway."
Gonzalez's early struggles on the mound presented a problem for Williams, who said it was so early he didn't want to use a pinch hitter.
"We don't know how the rest of the game is going to go there, it was so early," he said.
"At that point it's a five-run game, and we want to scratch one there, so lay down a bunt and get a guy to third with less than two outs and take our chances."
The Nationals scored two runs in the fourth on a home run to left by Ian Desmond, but that's all they would get off veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon, who threw eight strong innings in the nation's capital.
The Nats entered the game on Saturday with a .238/.306/.381 line against RHPs in 2014. They started the day 10th among 15 NL teams in AVG, 9th in OBP and 8th in SLG.
I asked Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page if there was any way to explain the Nats' struggles against right-handers at the start of the latest edition of Nats Nightly which featured Dave, myself and FBB's estimable Doghouse again this afternoon: