As a baseball fan, I loved going to the game at Nationals Park last Saturday. The weather was perfect, the sellout crowd was pumped up, and the playoff-like atmosphere was electric and exciting. But as a Nationals fan, the series was not fun to watch – neither in person nor on TV.
The Yankees did what they normally do – the batters worked their counts and made Nationals pitchers throw a lot of pitches, they played a solid defense, and they had clutch hits when they mattered most. Even when A-Rod and Jeter didn’t produce, you had Granderson, Teixeira and Canó contributing (Teixeira got the 2RBIs in the top of the 14th at Saturday’s game). The Yankees undoubtedly have the best lineup in Major League baseball, and they sure proved it this past weekend.
Despite losing all 3 games though, the Nationals hung in there and did not allow themselves to be completely humiliated. In Friday’s game, Gio Gonzalez had a decent outing, Saturday’s game went 14 innings, and on Sunday the Nationals lost 4-1. No 10-2 games, no major embarrassments (other than Bryce Harper striking out five times in Saturday’s game – Andy Pettite, old enough to be his father, completely dominated Bryce), and no loss in the standings (the Nationals are still 4 games above the Braves in first place, thanks to the Orioles taking their series with the Braves this past weekend).
So what was the major problem in the Yankees series? I would like to place the blame on 3 guys – the ones who bat 3-5 in the batting order. In the 3-game series against the Yankees, the 3, 4, and 5 hitters went 7/39, which is completely unacceptable. Former All-Star, Gold-Glover and Silver Slugger third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (the #3 batter) is batting a lousy .229 with only 3 home runs. Outfielder Michael Morse, who has only played in the last 14 games after spending the beginning of the season on the Disabled LIst, has gone 12 for 57 with no home runs, despite having hit 31 homers for the Nationals last year. And Adam LaRoche, who was hot at the beginning of the season, has been sliding down the leader boards, currently batting .264. If these guys in the middle of the order don’t start producing soon, the other teams in the NL East may catch up pretty quickly.
What will hopefully save the Nationals from continuing to lose is the upcoming series against the very injured Tampa Bay Rays. While this is normally a very solid baseball team, they are currently being Band-Aided together and have 9 players on the Disabled List (including Evan Longoria and Luke Scott). The Nationals need to take at least 2 of 3 from the Rays before going to visit the red-hot Orioles, which means that Zimmerman, Morse, and LaRoche need to step up their game.
Let’s see how it goes this week, Nats fans – no need to panick just yet!
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.