The Washington Nationals have thus far refused to use the assortment of injuries which have hit them in the first two months as an excuse for the fact they've hovered around .500 for most of the season and last night fell to 24-24 overall in a loss in which they penciled Zach Walters, Greg Dobbs and Nate McLouth into the starting lineup.
The Nats created plenty of opportunities in last night's 4-3 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh's PNC Park, but failed to take advantage of the chances, going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position in what ended up a one-run loss.
"It's part of the game to create those opportunities," Matt Williams told reporters afterwards. "We didn't come through tonight, but we've got to play tomorrow. It's good that we had those opportunities, so we'll go get them tomorrow again."
"It's a big loss to have [Harper] out," Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told MLB Network Radio Inside Pitch hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden in an interview this week.
"He's a left-handed power bat that hits in the middle of our lineup, and he's been missed and he will be missed. But we've got 25 good players on the roster and we're not dwelling on injuries of any of our big three or four hitters and getting guys that have to pick up the slack and we're doing it with guys that we haven't expected to get this much attention and this many at bats this early in the season, but I'm proud of the way these guys are playing."
"We're grinding it out and playing hard baseball every day," Rizzo continued. "Sometimes it's not pretty, and sometimes it's a little frustrating, but I couldn't be any prouder of the group that we put together here because we're playing with a lot of grit and grinding out at bats and playing extremely hard with a team that is not the team we expected to have."
• Here are the lineups for the Nationals' third game of four in PNC Park:
|WASHINGTON NATIONALS||PITTSBURGH PIRATES|
|Denard Span - CF||Josh Harrison - RF|
|Anthony Rendon - 3B||Neil Walker - 2B|
|Jayson Werth - RF||A. McCutchen - CF|
|Wilson Ramos - C||Ike Davis - 1B|
|Ian Desmond - SS||Russell Martin - C|
|Greg Dobbs - 1B||Pedro Alvarez - 3B|
|Danny Espinosa - 2B||Starling Marte - LF|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Clint Barmes - SS|
|S. Strasburg - RHP||Gerrit Cole - RHP|