Veteran Toronto Blue Jays' lefty Mark Buehrle threw his second straight complete game on Wednesday night in the Jays' 8-0 win over the Washington Nationals and stretched his scoreless innings streak on the mound to seventeen straight innings. Buehrle, 36, dominated Nats' hitters, getting 18 ground ball outs from the 32 batters he faced.
The Nationals dropped their fifth game in the last six and the offense struggled to do much of anything against Buehrle with just one extra base hit and double play grounders erasing three of the seven batters who reached base.
"The ball is down," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the loss. "Low strikes, balls out of the strike zone and he gets a lot of ground balls when that happens and we hit a lot of them tonight."
Over the last six games, the Nationals have scored a total of 14 runs.
Williams was asked what's slowed down an offense that was humming earlier this month, scoring 37 runs during a six-game win streak just two weeks back and an average of 4.63 runs per game as they went 18-9 in May.
"Nothing different other than getting better pitches to hit," he said.
"Tonight, you can throw that one out because Mark does that, he throws balls below the strike zone. But it's about getting quality pitches to hit and taking advantage of opportunities.
"During that long stretch that we had, we really took advantage of those opportunities that were presented to us and it hasn't been as good lately, but, you know it could start tomorrow."
Buehrle's ability to keep his pitches low in the zone on Wednesday resulted in the somewhat absurd number of ground ball outs he was able to record.
"The ball down," Williams said, "you watch the games, any time a hitter is effective on the low pitch, he's hitting it back through the middle the other way, and tonight [Buehrle] induced some roll-over grounders.
"We hit a lot, I don't know how many we had, quite a few, ground balls to shortstop from our right-handed guys.
"That's how he's effective. He's effective down, changing speeds, balls down that look like strikes but end up below the zone and you end up rolling it over. True sinker. True changeup and like I said, he works fast and throws strikes."
Williams was asked if a certain soon-to-turn-25-year-old infielder could perhaps help turn things around for the Nats' offense?
Anthony Rendon played both games of a doubleheader with the Harrisburg Senators on Wednesday, going 2 for 7 with a double for the Nationals' Double-A affiliate.
So what difference would his addition to the lineup make when he's finally ready to return?
"It makes us longer, certainly," Williams said, "and the way he played last year, the kind of hitter he is, he does a lot of things well for us. So it makes us longer, it gives us good on-base percentage, it gives us a guy that can hit the ball the other way well, he can move the baseball, he's got some power, we all know that, so whenever that is he'll certainly help us."