The Washington Nationals blew a late one run lead to the San Diego Padres last night to earn just their fifth loss of the season. The 2-1 defeat also marked fifth straight series the team was left one win shy of a sweep over their National League opponent.
The big story of the game for Washington was Edwin Jackson. The team's No. 4 starter allowed no earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched, giving up six hits while also striking out six batters. It was a statement game, of sorts, for Jackson. Some in Natstown had viewed him as the weak link in what has been the best rotation in baseball early on this season, but a lot of that criticism really was unfair. Yes, Jackson had one bad first inning against the Houston Astros last week in which he allowed five earned runs. He also preceded that one outburst with nine shutout innings, and has now followed it with 10.2 shutout frames. It was simply a blip on the radar, and hopefully Washington fans will realize that now.
The loss belonged to Tyler Clippard, who allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks in the bottom of the eighth. Last season Clippard allowed just 48 hits in 88 innings pitched last year, this season he has allowed at least one hit in each outing since April 10. The right hander complained of shoulder stiffness earlier in the year, but he still doesn't seem like the electric shut down set-up man he has been in the past. To be fair though, last year he had allowed three blown saves through the end of April, so maybe he is right when he says he's a slow starter.
- This loss just plain hurt. When a team gets on a roll like this, you want every single game to result in a win. It doesn't matter that they are now nine games over .500, I still wanted the sweep over the Padres. I think it's a good thing that as fans we are starting to develop an expectation of winning, but man, once it sets in the losses really sting. Could you imagine if losing felt this way in 2008 or 2009? I dont think I could have made it this far.
- Edinson Volquez, last night's Padres starter, does have the ability to pull out a gem every now and then, but I think the fact that the Nats earned just four hits on the night is more of a result of their health and overall offensive ability than anything else. Adam LaRoche contributed a single and a double, Jayson Werth supplied a solo home run, and Wilson Ramos added a meaningless single. While we dont expect much from Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel, or Chad Tracy, we simply need more production from our middle infielders, especially Danny Espinosa.
- The Nats will play the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight. It will be the first team they've played with a record well above .500, a true test.
This Week's Fortune Teller:
We asked fans to predict what Jackson's line would be prior to last night's game against the Padres. Ryan Jones (RyryJones) was the winner, although to be fair, no one was that close.
@TheNatsBlog 7 IP 3H 0ER 7K 1BB and aW— Ryan Jones (@RyryJones) April 26, 2012