Nats bats awaken, yet defensive miscues continue to haunt early season

Baseball is a marathon, so being overly critical after one or two weeks really isn’t fair.  Yet, for a team with postseason aspirations, if the defense does not improve, this team will have a hard time even making the playoffs.

Last Sunday vs Philly

After losing the first two games of this series, Washington pulled out a 4-3 win in 10 innings to deny the Phillies a sweep in the series.  Bryce Harper homered, Clint Robinson had 3 hits and Wilson Ramos had the go-ahead RBI in the 10th.  Max Scherzer wasn’t as sharp as he was in his 1st start of the season but he still left the game with the lead giving up one run in 6 innings with 6 strikeouts.  Drew Storen got into a little trouble but was able to get his second save in as many chances in the young season.

Monday – Wednesday at Boston

Opening Day at Fenway Park is always one of the most picturesque scenes in baseball and Monday was no different with an almost perfect scene for the crimes of Red Sox rookie Mookie Betts.  Betts robbed Bryce Harper of a homer, stole 2 bases on the same play as the Nats continued their shotty early season defense, and hit a 3 run homer as the Sox dominated in a 9-4 victory. The only solace of  the game was the return of Jayson Werth to the lineup.

Tuesday’s game looked as if it was a breakthrough fans have been clamoring for, but yet again, defensive miscues in the 7th inning, two errors by pitcher Blake Treinen on one play and another by Ian Desmond, virtually guaranteed their fifth loss in 6 games.  Stephen Strasburg gave up 5 runs in 5 2/3 innings but was off the hook for the loss because of a 6 run rally in the 5th inning which was by far the best inning of offense this season.  Michael Taylor had a bases clearing triple to lead the team with 3 RBIs in a losing effort.

In the last game of the series, the offense continued the momentum from the night before with a dominating performance the likes of what a title contender should produce plating 10 runs across and again avoiding a sweep by a 10-5 score.  Ian Desmond had a solo shot over the Green Monster and Wilson Ramos had a bases clearing double to support Gio Gonzalez (1-1), who gave up five runs — four earned– in 6 innings.

Thursday – Saturday vs Philadelphia

Back home after the week long road trip, the Nats welcomed the Phillies for their 1st visit to Nationals Park for the 2015 campaign.  In Friday’s tilt, Doug Fister pitched solidly into the 7th inning allowing 2 runs on just 4 hits as Home Runs by Michael Taylor and Yunel Escobar and a 2 run double by Ryan Zimmerman as the Nats won the match up 5-2.  Drew Storen pitched the 9th inning for his third save in as many chances.

Friday’s game was probably the most complete game of the season as Bryce Harper hit his 3rd home run to pace the offense and Max Scherzer was able to secure his 1st victory as a Nat in a 7-2 decisive win.  Scherzer has been as advertised through his first three starts since signing the seven year, 210 million dollar contract allowing only 2 earned runs and striking out 25 in 21 2/3 innings so far.  This win marked the first 3 game winning streak of the young season.

Ian Desmond’s physical issues in the field now seem to be a mental hurdle as he committed another error and dropping a ball while trying to complete a routine double play in the 3rd inning enabled the Phillies to score two unearned runs on starter Jordan Zimmermann (1-2) who was unable to overcome the gaffes as the Nationals fell 5-3 to end the winning streak.  This was Desmond’s 8th error in 12 games which, of course, leads the majors.  Bryce Harper absolutely crushed his 4th HR to dead center field estimated at 461 ft and the longest HR to dead center in Nats Park history.