For a team that has been ridiculously bad offensively, winning 3 of the 1st 6 games of this 10 game West Coast swing would be deemed a success, but this isnt your normal team. The Nats right now are in an offensive funk of epic proportions. 28th in the league Runs Scored, 29th in Batting average, 29th in Batting average and 28th in Slugging percentage. The only teams that match this level of futility in the league are the 2 teams expected to lead the league in losses this season, the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros, YET as we stand, the Nats sit only 1.5 games out of 1st place behind the Atlanta Braves. The only reason this is even possible is because the pitching staff has stepped up their collective games after a sluggish start to post a team wide 3.20 ERA (2nd in baseball) with 27 quality starts (3rd overall). Eventually the bats should start to warm as soon as the weather, but this team cannot wait much longer.
May 13-15th @ the Los Angeles Dodgers
As good as the Nats starters have been collectively, we’ve had some bad luck (bad defense, untimely hitting) that has cost the team winnable games, the 1st game of the series wasnt the case as Jordan Zimmermann continued his stellar season pitching 7.2 innings only surrendering 2 runs which RAISED his ERA for the season to 1.69, as he defeated former ace Josh Beckett and the Dodgers 6-2. Unfortunately, Bryce Harper was on the rough end of an awful crash running full speed into the right field wall which caused a gash that needed 11 stitches and knocked him out of the next 2 games with concussion-like symptoms although the team wouldn’t admit it. That play will be on bloopers reels forever, sorry Bryce. The next 2 games, the Dodgers unleashed their two big guns in defending Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw and 2013 Free Agent prize Zach Greinke, who both pitches exactly as you would think. Kershaw scattered five hits, struck out 11 and pitched 8 2/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 2-0 victory on Tuesday and Greinke pitched 5 1/3 strong innings in his first start since April 11 after coming off the disabled list earlier on Wednesday as Dodgers beat the Nats 3-1 on Wednesday night for the Nats 2nd consecutive loss. To compound the loss, Catcher Wilson Ramos aggravated the hamstring injury that placed him on the DL earlier this season which lead to his 2nd stint on the DL.
May 16-18 @ The San Diego Padres
Going into this series in San Diego, the Nats had a 2 game losing streak, these are the exact types of scenarios where your ace is supposed to step on the mound and be great and end the streak. But with Stephen Strasburg in his longest losing streak since Little League and an offense that is sputtering besides a couple of guys, nothing is guaranteed. Luckily for us, Strasburg was outstanding in his return to his hometown in front of about 50 family members and friends, he lasted a career-high eight innings to snap a seven-start winless streak, and Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche homered to spearhead a 6-2 victory against San Diego on Thursday night. In Bryce’s 1st game since the Wall Incident, he absolutely demolished a pitch to dead center-field that traveled an estimated 435ft. In Friday’s matchup, Chad Tracy slammed a game-winning home run in the 10th inning to give the Nats a 6-5 victory .Tracy’s heroics at Petco Park negated a blown save by Nationals closer Rafael Soriano, who gave up two runs with two outs in the ninth. It made a quality start from Gio Gonzalez, and a two-home-run night from first baseman Adam LaRoche stand up, and reclaim a victory that seemed so certain early on. An error by Jordan Zimmermann in the 8th inning was ultimately the margin of victory in an outright pitchers duel with 31 year old journeyman Eric Stultz who earned the victory with a 2-1 win.
The Nats conclude the road trip with 3 games vs the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants then return home for a 3 gamer vs the hated Philadelphia Phillies
Player of the Week
Adam LaRoche – .308 avg, 4 HRs 9 RBIs with 8 total hits. He finally has gotten out of the early season slump that plagued him. Now if we can get the rest of the offense to trend the same way.