After enduring a tougher than anticipated extended West Coast road trip where the Nationals finished up 4-6 on the 10 game swing, coming home to the Eastern Time Zone and completing arguably the toughest part of their schedule for the season, this team is in need of a jolt of energy. Collectively, this team has not hit or fielded the way a playoff contender should and after the 1/3rd mark of the season, this must change and in a hurry.
@ San Francisco Giants – May 20th – 23
In quite possiibly the biggest litmus test of the young season, The Nats had to travel to the picturesque AT&T Park to face the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants shorthanded in the starting rotation as Ross Detweiler missed his scheduled start on Monday with back spasms. That proved to be a bad omen as Left-handed reliever Zack Duke lasted just 3 1/3 innings in the spot start as the Nats were shut out for the 6th time this season, this time 8-0 . Duke allowed four runs and seven hits in his first start of the year. In Wednesday’s matchup, the team wasted another sterling effort from Stephen Strasburg, who has come out of the slight slump from earlier this year striking out seven and allowing only five hits in 7 innings. He retired 14 of the final 15 batters — six on strikeouts — and never allowed a runner past first in his last five innings yet the bullpen blew the lead in the 9th as Raphael Soriano blew the save on a defensive gaffe by Bryce Harper let a catchable ball fall bracing for impact of the wall where he was no where near. Call it being shell shocked from his horrific crash last week. Yunesky Maya (who was finally designated for assignment by the team on Friday) ended the game by giving up a massive two run homer to Pablo Sandoval completing the Giant comeback, with the 4-2 win. In the 3rd game of the series, Bryce Harper had his hand in all of the winning plays in a 2-1 victory in 10 innings. He made the game saving diving grab in the 8th inning and had 2 huge hits including his 12th HR of the season and a 1 out double in the 10th while scoring the winning run on Ian Desmond’s RBI single.
Home vs Philadelphia Phillies May 25-25
Finally home and able to sleep in the comforts of their respective beds, The archrival Philadelphia Phillies and their sickening fans invade Nats Park for a 3 game set. In the 1st game Jordan Zimmermann continued what has become his breakout season with another sterling performance in becoming the 1st 8 game winner in the National League giving up only 2 runs which actually RAISED his ERA to 1.71 in a 5-2 win. Raphael Soriano saved his 2nd consecutive game to give him 14 for the season. In Saturday’s game, Dan Haren pitched well enough to win, but Drew Storen’s inconsistencies appeared again as he surrendered the losing runs in the 8th inning as Philly defeated the Nats by the count of 5-3. Drew’s ineffectiveness is most certainly a mental block that he, as a young pitcher, must overcome for this team to really reach maximum effectiveness.
Player of the Week
Ryan Zimmerman – 6 Hits, 1 HR, 4 RBIs and NO ERRORS
Next Week’s Schedule
A weird schedule quirk as the Battle of the Beltway commences with 2 games at Nats Park then 2 games at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. After those games, a 3 games set at the 1st place Atlanta Braves.