Davey Martinez’s squad had their chances on Sunday. They battled back from early 2-0 and 3-1 holes, and were tied at 3-3 in the ninth when Wander Suero left a curveball up and gave up the go-ahead hit, but even then, the Nationals loaded the bases with one down in the bottom of the ninth only to come up empty at the end of the series finale with Pittsburgh’s Pirates in Washington, D.C.
Martinez noted after the 4-3 loss that it all started with a potential double play grounder on which the Nats had to settle for one out in the first.
Both of the runs Max Scherzer gave up in the Pirates’ first scored after Anthony Rendon bobbled the one-out grounder to third which could have ended the inning.
“We battled back,” Martinez said. “The first inning, Anthony turns a double play on that ball 10 out of 10 times, he didn’t today, so we go down two runs, here we go, we come back, we battle back, we’re down 3-2, we battle back, and then we had our chance, bases loaded, one out in the ninth there, so that’s tough, you’ve got Howie [Kendrick] up, and you’ve got Rendon up, both had good at bats, we just couldn’t get it done.”
The Nationals went 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position overall, and nine left on base in the one-run loss.
On the year, after 14 games, the Nationals have a combined .317 AVG with RISP, which is the National League’s best mark.
Kendrick is 2 for 5 w/RISP in a small sample size over the seven games since he returned from an early-season IL stint, and he’s 8 for 15 (.533/.600/1.133) overall in the games he’s played so far.
Rendon is 5 for 15 with two doubles and a home run w/RISP early this season after he flew out to end the finale with the Bucs.
Earlier in the game on Sunday, the Nats’ third baseman extended a 13-game hit streak with a single on a 1 for 4 day, leaving him 22 for 51 (.431/.492/.941) since he went hitless in the first game of the season.
He’s hit eight doubles and six home runs over that stretch, walking six times and striking out in eight at bats.
Martinez and Co. on the Nats’ bench would probably take their chances with either player up in the situations they were on Sunday any day.
“We had opportunities to score and just weren’t able to get it done,” Scherzer said when he spoke to reporters following the finale.
“But they put themselves in the right opportunity to do it,” he added, “and it’s hard to kick yourself too hard from the offensive standpoint, because they’re right there and they’re putting good swings on it and eventually they’ll drop.”
Will they drop in tonight’s series opener with the San Francisco Giants?