Another day, another disappointing performance by the Washington Nationals’ offense. It was a four-hit day for the club in a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, in which they put a number of runners in scoring position, but went 0 for 8 with RISP and 10 left on overall in what ended up a three-run loss.
Their best opportunity to make a game of it came in the eighth, when Josh Bell homered off Phillies’ lefty José Alvarado (on a 99 MPH fastball), Kyle Schwarber walked, and Starlin Castro hit a single in the first three at bats. With two on and no one out, however, Alex Avila lined out to center, Victor Robles sent a fly to left for out No. 2, and Ryan Zimmerman K’d swinging to end the threat, and let Alvarado off the hook.
“We left some runners on base once again,” manager Davey Martinez said after the loss.
“Had the right guy up there — Zim with Alvarado is a good matchup, first and second, just didn’t happen.”
The Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but the Phillies answered back an inning later with a four-run bottom of the fourth inning, which put the game out of reach for the Nats’ struggling offense.
An error by Bell at first on a Jean Segura grounder, hit-by-pitch on Bryce Harper, and an RBI single to center by Rhys Hoskins tied things up, 1-1, but Joe Ross got two outs before he left a first-pitch slider up for Andrew McCutchen, whose three-run shot was the difference in the game.
“It comes back to the offense, it really does,” Martinez said when asked about one mistake by Ross really costing the club the game.
“When you’re scoring two runs a game, the mistakes become magnified. That’s what’s kind of happening right now. Once again, our offense, we need to get going. We need to start hitting with runners on base, that’s part of the game. We got to score more runs than the other guys at the end of day. So, look, these guys, I said it before, they’re playing hard, and hitting is hard, I know it, but we just got to come out and be ready to play tomorrow. I feel for these guys, I really do, because they’re trying, the effort is there.
“You look at Starlin today, who’s been struggling, got a couple hits. J-Bell came back up and hit a home run against Alvarado, which is not easy. So we just got to keep grinding. That’s what this is all about.
“We got to keep grinding. Sometimes I feel like we’re really close to busting out of it, seeing good at bats, today just wasn’t that day.”
Will today be that day? Will the Nationals take 2 of 3 with the Phillies in CBP with a win in the series finale? It’s a bullpen day, apparently, so it’s anybody’s guess.