Despite playing good eight inning baseball for the sixth straight game, the Nationals drop another after falling on the wrong side of a pitchers duel Wednesday night.
John Lannan and Jair Jurrjens went head-to-head in a game for the ages, both tossing shutouts into the 7th inning. The Braves bullpen was able to pitch two scoreless more, but Mike Hinckley of the Nats gave up the sole run in the top of the 9th by walking Kelly Johnson with the bases loaded, giving the Nats yet another loss.That is just the way things have fallen for the team in the last week. Crazy instances and aboslute meltdowns in the 9th it seems have become standard for the Nats.
The shutout was just emphasis on the belief that the first part of the season saw strong hitting and absolutely awful pitching, the last week has seen surprisingly outstanding pitching (besides in the 9th) and not enough hitting.
This could mean one of two things:
First that the Nationals have the tools to be a good hitting ball club as well as a good pitching club, but their youth and inexperience is still working against them. If this were true then somewhere down the line they will be able to pitch and hit at the same time, with a combination of Lannan, Martis, and Zimmerman providing a strong 1-2-3 punch, and Dukes and Dunn driving in run after run.
Second, it could simply mean that the Nats are poorly managed, sporadically talented, and are really just playing up and down for no reason, out of chance.
Hopefully for the Nats future it is the first thing, not the second.
Following the starters, Garret Mock pitched the 8th inning, working a 1-2-3 inning. Staying in to work a second inning, Mock would secure two outs, allowing one hit and one walk before Acta called for Mike Hinckley. Hinckley, having worked 2 innings last night, came on with no control. Throwing only 4 out of 12 pitches for strikes, Hinckley walked the bases loaded, only to turn around and walk in the game winning run.
Tavarez came on to secure the last out in the ninth, but by then the damage was done. The Nats were then sat down in order by Braves closer Soriano, who recorded his second save of the year.
Despite Zimmerman extending his hitting streak to 12, and a 2-4 performance from Nick Johnson, the Nationals bats lacked the key hit all night. Stranding 15 on, and several runners on third. For the first time all year Adam Dunn failed to reach base, it is likely no coincidence that this was also the first time all year the Nats failed to score a run.