Despite a solid hitting effort against Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami, the Nationals could not must enough support for their lack luster pitching and lost 3-5.
The Nats did what they were supposed to do against a Japanese import in his first start in the bigs, they waited. They waited for Kawakami to pitch himself out of usefulness by making him fall behind in at-bats. However, despite the Nats four walks in six innings off of a pitcher who was known for his control in Japan, the Nats whiffed eight times to the hand of Kawakami.The 33-year-old rookie combined a mediocre fastball that occasionally touched 90 MPH, with a mid-level curveball and slider, and a change up somewhere in the high 60 MPH range. His ability to keep the young Nationals hitters off balance was what allowed him to only surrender three earned runs.
Traditionally when you play the Braves your biggest fear is stopping their perpetuallytalented middle of the order. That's how the Braves always beat you, a huge 1-2-3 punch and excellent pitching. Well Saturday night the Nats stopped the Braves heart of the order, but got destroyed by leadoff hitter Kelly Johnson, rookie centerfielder Jordan Schafer, and first baseman Kasey Kotchman.
The three combined to score all of the Braves runs. Johnson had a career day going 3-4 with a double, a homer, and three RBI. Jordan Shafer continued to enjoy his new home in the biggs in Atlanta and slapped the ball all around the outfield for two doubles.
With this their fifth loss in a row, the Washington Nationals have now lost 9 straight going back to last season. While health was a concern as the Nats limped into October, there is no excuse now as the team is not only healthy, but overloaded with players at several positions.
Oh but don't worry Nats fans, Manny Acta had this to say:
"There is no reason to show panic. I guarantee we'll not go 0-for-April"
In the past three games Zimmerman is 4-14 with four extra base hits. While he has already struck out seven times this year, it looks like his power stroke has returned and he is more comfortable at the plate. Zimmerman has also had defensive woe's early, which has raised some eyebrows as he is widely considered a once-in-a-generation defensive talent at the hot corner. The good news however is that the last three games seem to be an indication he is coming out of his early season slump.
Earlier this year The Nats Blog wrote a piece concerned about Guzman's dedication and focus after signing another contract with Washington. Maybe...he just doesn't like Florida. So far this season the Nats all-star shortstop has multiple hits in every game except one and has scored five runs in as many games. While he has yet to walk, he is getting on base at a high level due to his extremely high average right now, and it's helping the nats put the runs on the board that they are.
Lastings Milledge put up another O-for night going 0-4 with three strikeouts. Now on the season the Nats potential centerfielder of the future is batting .111 with no runs and one RBI. Whats worse, Milledge has struck out nine times in 19 plate appearances and has only walked one time. While its frustrating to see a player you hoped to progress so much this season basically fall into oblivion, you have to stick with him and hope he will regain his ability and flash that 30-30 talent yet again.