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Instant analysis: Phillies 1, Nats 0

May 4, 2014, 5:53 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: When the Phillies had to scratch Cole Hamels from today’s start due to flu-like symptoms, the Nationals figured they were catching a break. Not exactly. Replacement starter Roberto Hernandez was downright dominant, carrying a shutout into the eighth inning.

Gio Gonzalez was equally dominant, but the Nationals left-hander gave up one quick run in the bottom of the first on Jimmy Rollins’ triple and Chase Utley’s RBI single. Gonzalez cruised after that, failing to give anything else up and keeping his teammates in the game. All they needed was a crack at the Phillies’ beleaguered bullpen, which they finally got in the top of the eighth.

It didn’t happen this time, though. The Nationals stranded the tying run on third base and wound up dropping a tough game and the series. For the second straight day, they squandered an opportunity to leapfrog the Braves (now on a 6-game losing streak) for first place in the NL East.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Despite the injuries that have ravaged their Opening Day lineup, the Nationals have managed to be productive overall at the plate. But they continue to struggle at driving in runs in key situations. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position today, leaving them with a paltry .219 batting average in those spots for the season, 22nd out of 30 MLB teams. In all other situations, the Nats are hitting .270, ranking third in the majors. Whether you believe in the notion of clutch hitting or not, the fact remains this team hasn’t been nearly as productive when runners are in scoring position as they’ve been when they’re not.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Aside from his one hiccup in the first inning — something every member of the Nationals’ rotation has dealt with this season — Gonzalez was near-perfect. He allowed only one hit after the bottom of the first: Ben Revere’s third-inning triple. Otherwise, the left-hander did a brilliant job mixing up mid-90s fastballs with his trademark curveball and the occasional devastating changeup. Gonzalez struck out seven, kept his pitch count reasonable (100 through seven innings) and did everything within his power to give the Nationals a chance to win this game.

KEY STAT: Roberto Hernandez last threw seven scoreless innings in a big-league game on April 7, 2011, when he still was claiming to be Fausto Carmona.

UP NEXT: The Nationals return to D.C. for a very brief homestand, with three games against the Dodgers. They’ll face some potentially dominant pitching over the next three days: Zack Greinke on Monday, Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday, Dan Haren on Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball for the Nats for the series opener at 7:05 p.m.

  1. secretwasianman - May 4, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Marks hitting lowlight says it all

  2. Eugene in Oregon - May 4, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Hard to win when you score zero runs.

  3. scnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Same old same old. We do not play well against “good’ teams. Even with injuries our rotation should take 2 of 3 in a series like this. Disappointed.

    • NatsLady - May 4, 2014 at 7:13 PM

      You and Gio both.

    • snerdblurter - May 4, 2014 at 10:23 PM

      Your theory loses credibility when the “good” team is the Phillies and the pitcher is Roberto Hernandez.

  4. David Proctor - May 4, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    With our current lineup, this is going to happen. It just is. When you’re missing three big bats, you’re entirely reliant on Werth, ALR and Rendon. We had them up with Span in scoring position. You can’t expect them to come through every single time.

    Sucks for Gio. He pitched a gem.

    • scnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      Yeah but when you are in the bottom third with RISP you know there will be games like this. That needs to change.

      • David Proctor - May 4, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        RISP is largely fluky. Look at the Cardinals last year. Hit like .400 with RISP. This year, they’re awful. 2012 they were mediocre. There is not nearly as much “skill” to hitting with RISP as the conventional wisdom suggests.

      • scmargenau - May 4, 2014 at 11:53 PM

        Hogwash DP

        That’s like saying Jordan wasn’t clutch in the playoffs or at the end of games. Some have it. Some don’t.

        That MJ btw not Zim or Taylor

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:04 PM

      I disagree, to an extent… Anthony has to foul that ball off… All afternoon, the blue was giving the down and outside… He called a K on Rendon earlier in the at bat…

      You have to swing right there, and at least fouls it off… Don’t be mad at the blue…

      • David Proctor - May 4, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        I didn’t say anything about the umps??

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        No you… Don’t be mad at the blue… Talking about Rendon…

  5. secretwasianman - May 4, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I do think the umpire was bad today. Whenever you see a low score the strike zone is pretty huge.

  6. secretwasianman - May 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Weather also sucked. I’m sure that didn’t help

  7. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Frustrating game… Can’t believe Rendon… But just no offense today…

    • manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      He played second second basemen the last couple weeks terrible RISP

  8. manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    In this series. First inning we are down 7-0. Rest of the game we are up 7-4.

    Note to starters. Do not give up the first run, and none in the first.

    Note to hitters pretend no one is on base at all times.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      Gio was marvelous today… Stop it… He kept them in this game… Our offense did nothing…

      • manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        He was excellent. Had 1 bad pitch. Unfortunately 1 more than his counterpart.

  9. Natsfool - May 4, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    This is a very bad loss, obviously. We can never become an elite team with Desmond’s hitting approach. I was calling the pitches and result for almost all of his at-bats. The last inning was textbook. Fool him into swinging at a high pitch and let the wind knock it down.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2014 at 6:06 PM

      Really? 2 Silver Sluggers aren’t enough?

      • Natsfool - May 4, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        I don’t care about his silver slugger. His plate discipline is terrible. One of the reasons the Nats are terrible with RISP is Desmond’s poor situational hitting.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 4, 2014 at 6:34 PM

        Really, he’s hitting above his regular Batting Average with RISP.

    • David Proctor - May 4, 2014 at 6:06 PM

      Oh look, you’re back after a loss. Please remind me which hitting approach led Desmond to be one of the best hitting shortstops in baseball the past two years.

      • scmargenau - May 5, 2014 at 12:04 AM

        Stop it. Man said his plate discipline is bad. It is. And his BA regular and with Risp is bad. He’s gotta stop trying to murder every pitch.

        O, and thing about baseball… Pitchers learn/evolve….desi better also. And I love desi…but I’m not ignorant and I do not own rosy nation insider glasses.

      • David Proctor - May 5, 2014 at 12:37 AM

        His BA with RISP is .306. But who needs facts.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      Actually for the season he is batting .306 RISP GOING 11 for 36.

      In the 7th inning and later .286 12 for 42

      Don’t know what the stats are on 0-0 counts. I believe that is your real gripe I think.

      • Natsfool - May 4, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        Yes. Certain situations don’t call for a first pitch swing. Game is 1-0. How many times have we seen the pressure holding that lead puts on an iffy bp? In that situation, you make the pitcher show you he has command before you swing. Yet how many times have I seen Desmond swing at a bait pitch and let the bp off the hook. Desmond loses several games a year doing that. I’ve watched it, and I’m going to keep a record of it. Exhibit 1 for why he shouldn’t be given a long-term contract.

      • scmargenau - May 5, 2014 at 12:05 AM

        Yea when we r up by a ton maybe. Not when it matters

      • scmargenau - May 5, 2014 at 12:05 AM

        Yea when we r up by a ton maybe. Not when it matters

  10. David Proctor - May 4, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    Ramos homered for Hagerstown.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      That’s 3, altogether?

    • ArVAFan - May 4, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      He can’t get back here soon enough. Sounds as if maybe his “power recovery” time is going to be on the short end of average. About time he had some good luck with an injury recovery!

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        From your lips/fingers… To the baseball God’s ear….

  11. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Grienke vs Zimmermann will be a sexy match up…. I would think Puig is out after that hit against the wall (ouch))…

    Can’t wait for Ramos to come back… excited to see Fister on Friday….

  12. Natsfool - May 4, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Only Werth and Rendon actually know how to hit on the current roster. I could throw in LaRoche as well. Then we have a couple of sluggers who run into the ball once and a while. That’s not going to get it done.

  13. Adam - May 4, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    Now that is what I call pathetic

  14. scnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Even the Philty announcers noticed every Nat was swinging for the fences. That is a horrible approach.

  15. manassasnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Any word when Ramos is coming back?

    • veejh - May 4, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      Soon, baby, soon. We would have won had he played today. Leon fail early in the game w man on 2nd, 1 out.

  16. wmlsays - May 4, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    They’re doing better, but still lose to journeyman pitchers. Hopefully, now that the error count is going down, the scoring will come up as well. They’re threading water and maybe that’s all they can do until they get healthier. Or they start seeing the ball better.

  17. veejh - May 4, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Got Ramos back last season, what happened? We started killing it. Ramos is so crucial. Pray he can remain healthy for the remainder of the season. Mr RBI!

  18. NatsLady - May 4, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Puig passed his concussion test and is listed as “day to day.” I always worry about those initial concussion tests because symptoms can show up later.

    http://www.sportsinjuryalert.com/2014/05/update-dodgers-yasiel-puig-passes.html#.U2bGKvldXng

  19. NatsLady - May 4, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    So the Nats went 3-2 on the road while the Barves went 0-6 at home. We played the Stros, but it still counts.

    I wonder what the Philllies knew about Hamels. Seems like they made a good choice, and, for whatever reason, Rollins is MOTIVATED. He made some excellent plays and is hustling.

    I would have loved to have gotten to Papelbum, though.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 4, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      I thought Walters got to him, for sure….. Damn wind pushed the ball over…

  20. NatsLady - May 4, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    So Span as lead-off got on base twice, and still nothing came of it. I know people are complaining, but he did his job today, plus a couple of nice catches.

    • scmargenau - May 5, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      Look — spans ok…but if we want to improve its CF and 2nd base. Everything else is spoken for

  21. NatsLady - May 4, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    Frandsen maybe didn’t hit today, but he easily saved two or three runs. McLouth saved one also. So it could have been 4-0 or 5-0. We had tight defense. Gio pitched great. Bullpen held. Just gotta get Ramos and Zim back (and Harper eventually).

    • dcwx61 - May 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      It seems to me that McLouth is trying to pull everything thereby grounding out to 2nd as pitchers continue to pitch him away. Would be nice to g3et his average close to the Mendoza line.

  22. npb99 - May 4, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    At any given time, some players on a team will be hot and others cold. Desi’s record suggests he’ll heat up at some point.

    How about the NL East standings: 1.5 games between first and last place. So far, it’s the year of parity.

  23. scnatsfan - May 4, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    When Ian is hitting he looks like a genius swinging at the first pitch, right now he looks like a fool

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 43 --
ATLANTA 54 46 2.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
NEW YORK 47 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 13.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

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MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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