Washington's second-year manager Matt Williams made some changes from the everyday lineup he was running out there last night after the Nationals managed to score just one run in 27 innings over three straight losses.
Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos all got the night off with Clint Robinson, Danny Espinosa and Nats' catcher Jose Lobaton playing the second game of four with the Giants in San Francisco.
Before the game he explained the thinking in sitting Werth, who was 8 for 56, .143/.180/.250, 3 2B, 1 HR in 16 G after returning from a DL stint for fractured bones in his left wrist, Rendon, who was 15 for 67, .224/.312/.313, 3 2B, 1 HR in 18 G after returning from a quad injury, and Ramos, who was 11 for 69, .159/.192/.217, 1 2B, 1 HR in 19G after the All-Star Break, in favor of Robinson, Espinosa and Lobaton.
"The guys get an opportunity to get back in there and play and stay sharp," Williams said. "And it gives us a chance to get some lefties in the lineup too, against a really difficult right-handed pitcher [Matt Cain]."
"It's a balance for sure," he said when asked about getting everyone ABs, "because we've got to make sure that we're trying to keep everybody sharp and give guys opportunities. Danny has had a really good season, so has Clint, so we want to give them opportunity. Jayson is still coming back from the wrist, and it's going to probably be a process from now until the end of the season. That being said, Anthony has been heavy on his legs too and he's coming off a quad [injury], so we've got to find him days [off] too."
The Nationals scored five runs on six hits off Cain, with three of them coming on a three-run home run to right-center by Bryce Harper in the fourth, but dropped their fourth straight game when Max Scherzer struggled on the mound.
Espinosa went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Robinson was 2 for 2 with a HBP. Lobaton too was 1 for 4 with a run scored.
"Clint swung the bat well tonight," Williams said after the loss.
"We had some opportunities. [Harper] put a nice swing on a baseball. We got guys out there for him. So, all in all a better night offensively tonight, hopefully that carries."
Was the fact that they did score runs and still lost another game worrisome?
"Again, I tell you guys all the time," he said. "We can't worry about that now, it's over with. So tomorrow we've got a tough customer and we'll have to see what we can do tomorrow, but we can't worry about it now."
Espinosa's back on the bench tonight. Werth's back in the lineup, though he's batting seventh. Rendon's back at second and batting second against Giants' right-hander Jake Peavy. Can the Nats' stop their four-game slide?