Washington’s Nationals connected for 11 hits off Noah Syndergaard in the series opener in Philly on Thursday, but just one extra-base hit in the rain-shortened, five-inning, 5-4 loss in Citizens Bank Park.
“We were putting the ball in play. We were staying in the middle field. We hit the ball hard, and that’s awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said after the first of four with the Philadelphia Phillies.
“So, we keep doing that ... with [Luke] Voit in the lineup and we get [Nelson Cruz] back and Lane [Thomas] has been swinging the bat better now. So we’ll score some runs.”
Runs ended up being an issue on Friday night in Philadelphia again, but more concerning was the lack of hits early, with the opposing pitcher, Kyle Gibson, holding the visiting team hitless through six perfect innings, retiring the first 18 batters he faced before he hit Victor Robles and gave up a single by Luis García in the first two at-bats of a scoreless seventh.
The Nats ended up putting a run up on Gibson in the eighth, and added one in the ninth, but in what ended up a 7-2 loss, the offense produced just three hits total, took two walks, and the club went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and four left on base in the end.
“Quick at-bats,” Martinez said when asked about the lack of hits early and success at the plate overall in the game, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.
“We were trying to get the ball up, but the ball has so much depth sinking, we just kept hitting the ball on the ground,” Martinez added, with Gibson recording 12 groundouts in eight innings and 28 matchups.
“So we had to realize that, ‘Hey, you guys really gotta get the ball up.’ And then when they look for the ball up, he threw a cutter to the lefties, got in on them. Got in on a couple of guys. But I was looking, I said, hey, we just got some open-ended cutters good. The sinker was just really good.”
“We just had to try to get the ball up a little bit more,” the fifth-year skipper explained. “But like I said, his ball was moving quite a bit. Later in the game we hit the ball a lot better. But he was good.”
Tonight, the Nationals take on Phillies’ lefty Ranger Suárez, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in three starts since returning from an IL stint for a back issue. Suárez has given up 11 hits, and three unearned runs have scored in 16 IP over that stretch, with two walks, 16 Ks, and a .190/.230/.224 line against.