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Instant analysis: Cubs 7, Nats 2

Jun 27, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT

AP AP

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of a frustrating loss in the fog, the Nationals returned to Wrigley Field today hoping that blue skies would produce a happier result. Instead, they dropped another game to the last-place Cubs, this time in unsightly fashion.

The Nats were held to two runs by Jason Hammel, who retired 10 in a row at one point. Tanner Roark gave back both of those runs (and two more) during six labored innings. And then Jerry Blevins poured gasoline on the fire in the bottom of the seventh, turning a 4-2 game into a 7-2 rout.

Just like that, the Nationals have lost three straight and now face a daunting prospect: They’ll need to sweep Saturday’s day-night doubleheader just to salvage a 4-game series split here in Chicago.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: The Nationals had their chance to take out Hammel early. They got a single, a double, a walk and a wild pitch to open the top of the second, yet somehow managed to score only one run in the process. The two rally-killers? Ryan Zimmerman went on contact on a grounder to third and easily was thrown out at the plate for one out. Danny Espinosa also struck out on three pitches with runners on second and third and one out, a situation that demanded contact above all else. Though they led 1-0 at that point, it felt like a missed opportunity. And it proved to be one by day’s end.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Take your pick. Roark was not particularly sharp, serving up 10 hits in only six innings of work while pitching in front of a bunch of friends and family from his nearby hometown of Wilmington, Ill. Blevins, meanwhile, took what still was a competitive ballgame and turned it into a rout in one fell swoop. Pitching the seventh inning with his team down 4-2, the left-hander gave up a double, then uncorked a wild pitch, then walked two batters (one intentional), then served up a 3-run double to the .160-hitting John Baker. Blevins now sports a 5.34 ERA in 35 appearances, having struggled to adequately fill the much-needed left-handed specialist role in the Nationals’ bullpen.

KEY STAT: From the left side of the plate, Espinosa has a .578 OPS and is striking out in 38 percent of plate appearances. From the right side of the plate, his OPS is .830 while he strikes out 24 percent of the time.

UP NEXT: This 6-day road trip ends with a day-night doubleheader. It’s Gio Gonzalez against right-hander Dallas Beeler (making his MLB debut) in the 1:05 p.m. EDT opener. Then Blake Treinen gets called back up from Class AAA Syracuse to start the 7:15 p.m. nightcap against Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija.

  1. David Proctor - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    Ug-ly. No other way to put it.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      I picked the wrong game to start watching in real time. Or stop smoking. Or something. Waitaminit – I don’t smoke. Eh, back to the drawing board…

  2. sjberke - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Just talked my friends into going with me to Nats Park on the Fourth…bought seven tickets in Sec. 237…after the last three games I’m thinking of selling them and having us all go to the museums and Folklife Festival instead.

    No just kidding–don’t contact me. But I do have to wonder how much those 16 innings Tuesday took out of them; they haven’t seemed the same since. Maybe they could use that day off Sunday; just have to hope the Braves aren’t back in first by then.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    There weren’t many positives today other than Ramos getting a couple of hits and ALR getting a dinger.

    Jerry Blevins now has a 5.34 ERA. I said the day we made that trade the we traded for the wrong guy. Then many here convinced me to reconsider. I don’t know, but I’m beginning to thing that I was right to begin with. He certainly isn’t isn’t looking to be the missing piece.

    I sure hope Ryan can get back to playing 3B. They need to sit Espinosa down.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      Edit: beginning to “think”

  4. David Proctor - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    The pitching has the best ERA in the NL.

  5. tcostant - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    Just disappointing…

  6. pchuck69 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    Will someone ask Williams about Espinosa???

  7. dcwx61 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    Danny K clearly has some dirt on Rizzo…logic would put him on the bench to try someone/anyone else…yes even Kevin Frandsen. When is the last time he has driven in a run. What is his avg with RISP now,

  8. micksback1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    I have been reading the posts in here and really everyone has valid points. Here is my concern, MW. When he came to dc, the one thing he stated was that he wanted to keep players fresh, especially the outfield. Even with Harper out, this is something that he should have managed better. several posters have said they are worried about Werth and Desi because they look tired and they are right. The players seemed more fatigued at this point of the season than last season and the Harper injury is NOT an excuse because that is why McClouth and Frandsen are on the squad.

    bottom line is that MW is not a good manager in my view, if this team fails to make post season in a weak division minus a major injury, how anyone feels MW would deserve a second year is beyond me. He can not use any excuse that the players are not his type of players. This is on MW and ultimately Rizzo for hiring him. Perhaps injuries happen due to fatigue.

    my bot SW is spot on that this team is not been close to 2012, so it is clear that 2012 was an outlier, nats are an above 500 team, I am not sure how much better they are beyond that. If they are healthy and play only 500 ball the rest of the way, then clearly there are pieces missing

    I am not legion of doom, the nats are an above 500 team, they simply are not a championship caliber team and most important they have a sub 500 manager in my view

    • BurnedOnce - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      +1 not near champion level

    • npb99 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      I agree about Werth. He’s looked old of late, 35 going on 40.

  9. micksback1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    your sentence that “No signs…..” is profound and I am afraid spot on

  10. BurnedOnce - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    What an embarassment. So frustrating.

  11. npb99 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    In April and May, the talk was ‘just wait, helps on the way,’ when this and that player come off the disabled list. Of course, that’s an issue, but a bigger issue this year has been poor baseball fundamentals (as it was last year). A sound ballclub gets more than one run in the second inning today.

  12. BurnedOnce - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    Unfortunately, it looks a lot like they are setup to be swept if the way they played the last three days is any indication. Instead of gaining energy and pride from winning in 16, they fall into disarray. A team with some talent and no character.

    • BurnedOnce - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:57 PM

      Team character. I’m sure individually there are some stand up guys…

  13. janebeard - Jun 28, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    We were there for the game. A ton of Roark shirts on the fans alerted us to his family and friends. He was incredibly great with them after the game, greeting people and posing for photos. The players we saw get on the bus looked stressed and unhappy.
    The Cubs fans were awesome. Kind, welcoming. Several said stuff like “you’ll win tomorrow!” I was so impressed. Only one jerk and that was long after the game. It sure us fun to spot the Curlie Ws around town. Headed back over soon.

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