The Washington Nationals scored four runs in the ninth inning last night after Arizona D-Backs' rookie Zack Godley and reliever Addison Reed combined for eight scoreless. Was it an offensive revival? Possibly. Or a reliever pitching with a 6-0 lead throwing a few too many strikes? Also possible. Either way it was a sign of life from an offense that produced five runs total in the three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets' this past weekend.
So what happened in the first six innings against Godley?
"I think that, for the most part, early on anyway, we swung at balls out of the strike zone," Matt Williams told reporters after the Nats' fourth straight loss.
"He throws a cutter and sinker, so the ball moves to both corners of the plate, but we expanded a little bit too much early on him. Had some chances, but just couldn't get that one hit."
The Nationals' first nine batters went down in order, but Yunel Escobar singled to start the fourth and the Nats' loaded the bases with two down before Ian Desmond grounded out to short to end the first threat.
"Desi got in a good hitters' count," Williams explained.
"And [Godley] threw him a sinker and he got him to hit it to short, but that hit, maybe we get back in it and make it a closer one at that point and you never know, but he made a good pitch."
The D-Backs led 4-0 after four added a run in the fifth and another in the ninth before the Nationals rallied.
So was it a matter of the Nationals seeing Godley for the first time and being unfamiliar with his stuff?
"No, not necessarily," Williams said.
"It doesn't matter who's pitching. It's about hitting strikes and getting in good hitters' counts. Tonight we didn't do that for the most part. Gave it a run in the ninth, but not enough."
The signs of life in the ninth, however, Williams added, were hopefully a sign of things to come for an offense that, as ESPN.com's Stats and Info site noted today, has been struggling to produce runs for some time now:
The Nationals’ offense (and their winning percentage) has been in a free fall since the start of July pic.twitter.com/CWioSR71sI— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 4, 2015
Since the start of July, the Nationals are 11-16, and they've been outscored 94-86 over that stretch. They have their expected everyday starters like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon back though.
Can the big inning against the D-Backs help start something?
"These guys keep fighting," Doug Fister said, after a less-than-impressive start against Arizona.
"That's the heart that we have and the guys that we have in here. We've got 24 other guys that want to win and want to go out there and do whatever it takes to win at the end of the day and that's what this game is all about. The fight, the scratching and clawing till the end of the game. I mean that's what we're doing."
"Hopefully that gets us started a little bit," Williams said. "Certainly don't want to wait that long, but put some good swings on it in the ninth there, so hopefully that gives us a little momentum for tomorrow."
Can the Nationals get things going against D-Backs' lefty Patrick Corbin tonight?
The Nats, as a team, have a combined .244/.312/.371 line against lefties this season, good for 10th/10th/8th in the NL.
Max Scherzer's on the mound for the Nationals... though he does have the ninth-lowest run-support-per-start in the National League (3.29 RS/start)... Think positive thoughts, NatsTown!