Different city, different day, same old Washington Nationals.
The Nats’ 7-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs last night at Wrigley Field represented the tenth time this month they’ve scored three or fewer runs. They’ve lost nine of those games.
Again, the Nationals’ offense stranded five runners on base and were collectively 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position.
“We’re hitting the ball hard,“ said manager Davey Martinez after the game. “I think it’s just a matter of, one, not trying to do too much. Just go up there and just see the ball and hit it.”
Even Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber’s return to the Windy City as members of the Nats was not enough of an emotional lift, although Schwarber did drive in a pair of runs with a two-run homer to center field in the fourth inning.
“It definitely felt good, to put it in that spot, and move it to a one-run game there, get the momentum back on our side,” said Schwarber after the game.
“Obviously doing it against your former team and being DFA’d in that spot, and going out there and putting in a big hit there in the moment felt good.”
The shot with no one out and Josh Bell on first cut the Chicago lead to 4-3, but that was as close as the Nats could get with their slumping offense.
Starlin Castro, who came into the current road trip on an 11-game hitting streak, and was hitless in Arizona, went 0-for-4 and left four runners on base.
“I feel bad for Starlin, I mean, over the past couple of days, few days, he’s really hit the ball hard, and has nothing to show for it,” said Martinez.
Juan Soto was 1-for-4, but did not bat with men on base, and was stranded his only time on in the eighth.
“Juan, you watch him in batting practice, and he’s hitting balls just like he normally does to left-center field, homers to right field, center field, and I’m talking about balls that are crushed,” said Martinez.
“Juan is going to start getting the ball in the air, he’s going to start hitting his home runs and start driving the ball in the gaps, I know that.”
Bell was on base three times, with two hits and a walk, and Schwarber added a walk to his home run. Trea Turner had a solo home run in the third inning and a walk in the eighth, but aside from Schwarber’s homer, no one could drive any of them in.
Even so, the Nats trailed 6-3 in the eighth when Juan Soto’s only hit of the night followed Turner’s one-out walk. Bell followed with a flyout, but Schwarber walked to load the bases. Castro had a chance to give the Nats the lead with a homer, but reached outside for a 1-1 sinker and grounded out to end the best threat of the night.
“Starlin, I don’t want him to start thinking too much up there. He’s hitting the ball. He just hasn’t had any luck. Hopefully it will change tomorrow,” said Martinez.