It looks like the best way to keep the Washington Nationals off the scoreboard is to load the bases.
The Nationals had eight hits and drew three walks against Colorado on Saturday, loading the bases three times, but never came close to scoring in a 6-0 loss to the Rockies.
Colorado starter Kyle Freeland allowed seven of those hits in six innings, but proved adept at getting out of jams, as the Rockies turned four double plays to complement the Nats’ own propensity for striking out in clutch situations.
So the Nationals would never seriously threaten the 3-0 lead starting pitcher Patrick Corbin and the Nats spotted the Rockies in the first nor the 6-0 lead Colorado built in the fourth.
“We fall behind, and once again we just start to put all this pressure we got drive in all the runs when you go up there,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters afterward.
“When you fall behind, you’re down 3-0 or 6-0, you want to be the guy to knock in all the runs.”
Corbin gave up a two-run homer to Brendan Rodgers and an RBI fielder’s choice to Ryan McMahon in the first and a three-run homer to Trevor Story in the fourth.
“I think he just had no command of his pitches. Fastball was erratic. He tried to throw some — he fell behind and tried to throw some breaking balls for strikes and just left them up and got hit hard,” said Martinez.
Juan Soto was 1-for-3 with his major league-leading 124th walk and remained second in the National League batting race at .315 with two weeks to play.
The Rockies were apparently comfortable pitching to Soto with a big, early lead, and the bases empty, and after grounding out in the first inning, Soto led off the fourth with his 18th double of the season but was stranded.
Soto loaded the bases in the fourth when he was safe on a fielder’s choice and an error by Colorado first baseman C.J. Cron. With nobody out, Lane Thomas on at second, and Alcides Escobar at first, Soto grounded to Cron in the shift. But Cron’s flip for the double play at second pulled shortstop Trevor Story off the bag, and Soto beat the relay to first.
Next was Ryan Zimmerman, who homered and singled on Friday and singled in his first at-bat Saturday. But Zimmerman hit the third pitch from Freeland right back to the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play.
Carter Kieboom then walked to load the bases for the second time in the inning, but Yadiel Hernández stranded all three runners by striking out.
The Nats’ first bases-loaded situation came in the second inning, when Zimmerman, Hernández, and Jordy Mercer singled, but Alex Avila grounded into a 3-6-1 double play, with Freeland sprinting to make the play at first.
Soto walked to lead off the eighth, but Zimmerman flied out to right and Kieboom hit into the Nationals’ fourth double play of the game, this time going 6-4-3.