Tip your cap fans because there is no two ways about it: The Nats met the woodshed this weekend courtesy of a very good, very hot, Atlanta Braves team. There is no dobut which was the better team this weekend, so Nats fans ought to be thankful a season hasn’t come down to a weekend in April. With any luck, the Braves are playing their best baseball of the year right now and will start to come back down to Earth fairly soon.
The Nats were out hit, out pitched, made errors and were also very seriously out-lucked. The Braves might have won anyway, but the baseball seemed to have a Braves magnet in it whenever the Nats hit the ball hard. All of that added up to blowing a 4-1 lead to lose 6-4 in 10 innings, a tough Saturday 3-1 loss and a blowout 9-0 stinker on Sunday.
What Happened? The team got their ass kicked. It’s not even worth exploring really in a broad sense. Ryan Zimmerman made three errors in three days (one of which probably, in conjunction with Danny Espinosa, cost the team the game). The Nats probably needed to score more runs on Friday when they had the chance against Terhan, and get some runs early against Tim Hudson when they had the chance. Both pitchers settled back into their unworldy level of success.
Danny Espinosa is day to day after getting hit on the hand, which will give the Steve Lombardozzi fans a chance to see their man play. I had said in the previews that adding Lombo to the lineup might cause problems, as he doesn’t really fit the 7 spot. I was ready to be okay with him in 7 given how the batters were hitting, but Wilson Ramos is also out for at least 15 days with a hamstring pull. A victim of MLB rules, the Nats need to make room to bring up a back-up catcher because a week is too long to go with just one guy, but they need to put someone on the DL to make room for Jhonatan Solano. There isn’t a 7 day DL, so Ramos is going to be out for two weeks.
Lost In the Shuffle: Only one thing was done well this weekend, and that was two starting pitching performances. Ross Detwiler, Two starts in a row has been lights out, and has nothing to show for it. His .69 ERA comes from just 2 runs (only one earned) in 13 innings pitched against two teams that, otherwise, have scored rather easily against the Nationals so far this year. Stephen Strasburg also got bit by the unlucky bug, giving up the year’s first Unearned Home Run after an error didn’t end an inning, and Evan Gattis hit the most awkward homerun ball up at his neck. No doubt Strasburg didn’t have his best stuff, but he also was getting outs other than this cruddy series of events.
Well, it’s probably a good time for the team to get out of town, and Miami is as good a place as anywhere to play baseball. The Malrins continue to be the bad team they were in Washington for the Opening Day series, currently with a record of 2-10 (They’ve beat the Mets and the Phillies once each). If they aren’t the worst team, they are the second worst team in baseball right now.
That Said: I’ve been on the “it’s a long season” train all weekend with the Braves season, and part of the long season is that teams like the Marlins win 50ish games-and they don’t win all of them against other bad teams. The Nats are not going to sweep the Marlins for the year, 19-0 isn’t going to happen no matter the talent disparity. It doesn’t mean the Nats can’t sweep the Marlins this weekend (they can), and it doesn’t mean the Marlins can’t win 2 out of 3 at home against the Nats (they actually could), both of those things could happen. The Nats ought to be aiming to win the first two games against the Marlins putting them in position for the sweep. That counts as success, even against a bad team. Expecting a sweep, or denying the possibility of getting beat by the Marlins, is begging for disappointment.
Whatever has been biting at the Nationals these past two weekends isn’t going to get solved in a series against the Marlins, but they can keep pace by beating up teams they should in the meantime. Marlins will send Leblanc, Sanabia and Nolasco, each of which gives up plenty of runs, and the Nats should score some and win these games. The Nats will face progressively tougher series (Mets, then Cards and Reds at home) as the week goes on, so getting these wins now (and buidling a little momentum a la the Braves) is a good idea.