The Washington Nationals were once again trying for a four-game series sweep on Thursday night against the Houston Astros. Unfortunately, the thing that has been the team’s strength, pitching, was its kryptonite this evening. The Astros set the Nats down 11-4 in a long, ugly game.
In the first inning, well, let’s just say it didn’t go well. After Edwin Jackson struck out Jordan Schafer on three pitches, he gave up a string of six consecutive hits. Three of them were triples. It was the first time in Astros history that they recorded three triples in one inning, and just the 13th time they’d done it in a game in franchise history. Once all the damage was done, Jackson gave up five earned on six hits, and Nats Park was deflated.
As we’ve gotten so used to, the Nationals started to respond. Adam LaRoche was the catalyst in the second with a single, and he then advanced on a wild pitch. He eventually scored on a Wilson Ramos RBI single. The magic really happened in the third. Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Espinosa led off the inning with a single and double, respectively. That brought up Ryan Zimmerman, who hit his first run of the year to deep, and I mean deep, left center. It pulled the Nats within one run, but that’s as close as they would get.
Tom Gorzelanny entered the game in the six after Jackson was marvelous for the next four innings, and he blew the doors wide open. He gave up six runs on eight hits over two innings. His ERA went from a crisp 0.00 to an unfortunate 7.36. I've been rough on Gorzelanny, and despite having a 0.0 WAR going into Thursday, the worst among any Nats pitcher, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Well we saw the Gorzelanny I've expected on Thursday night.
- Steve Lombardozzi has been absolutely ridiculous in limited plate appearances. He went 2-for-5 on Thursday and is 8-for-17 with three walks on the season, so he’s hitting .417 with a .529 on-base. He also looked sharp at shortstop. If the Nats offense struggles for any longer, he may find his way into the starting lineup more often.
- Jordan Schafer had an incredible amount of range in center field. Despite his career -5.8 UZR, he tracked down three really well hit balls in the outfield that would have been extra bases in a lot of situations.
- Ryan Mattheus has not looked sharp in his last few appearances, and his numbers are starting to show it. In seven innings over eight appearances, he now had a 5.14 ERA and a 1.571 WHIP. As much as we hate the thought, maybe he should consider switching out “Firework” as his warm up song.
Today is another day and another series against division foes: the Miami Marlins. Remember, although Thursday was ugly, the Nats have still won six out of eight this homestand with three games to go. It will still be a very nice month for the Nats.