There’s no official definition of “rock bottom” in baseball, but the Washington Nationals are certainly at their lowest point of the season following Tuesday night’s 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Gerrit Cole (W, 5-3) held the Nats to just one run, two hits and one walk through seven innings. In the meantime, the Bucs recorded three easy runs in the top of the second off Taylor Jordan (L, 0-3).
Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin hit back-to-back singles before Garrett Jones drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Jordan forced Neil Walker to ground into a force out that plated Alvarez and Jordy Mercer reached first on a missed catch error by Anthony Rendon, which scored Martin. Before Jordan could put the inning to rest, Cole himself singled to plate Walker and reward himself a 3-0 lead.
The Nats earned back a run in the top of the third in what seems to be the only way they can score runs anymore – a homer – this time off the bat of Wilson Ramos.
As it turned out, Ramos’s home run would remain the last of the Nats’ hits until Denard Span singled in the eighth off reliever Travis Snider.
By that point, however, the Pirates had already expanded their lead to 5-1. In the top of the eighth, with two outs Alvarez homered to left field to make it 4-1 Pirates. Afterwards, Martin singled to left before the Nats called upon Ian Krol to relieve Jordan. Krol’s first batter, Gaby Sanchez, doubled in Martin to make it 5-1 Pittsburgh before the inning was over.
THE GOOD: It’s been said before and it needs to be said again – Taylor Jordan has been giving the Nationals workable outings. The problem, in turn, has been a lack of run support and error-less defense.
Jordan’s final line – 7.2 IP, 9 H, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 99-74 – fell short of perfect, but it was enough to earn him a warm ovation from the crowd when Davey Johnson brought in Ian Krol.
THE BAD: Welcome to Washington baseball, Rick Schu. The Nationals recorded a mind-boggling three hits in nine innings. The loss marks their fifth straight, as the team remains winless since the All-Star Break. Those on the roster who contributed earlier this week – namely, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche – produced nothing from the batter’s box.
THE UGLY: Brace yourself – Matt Harvey and the New York Mets are just two games from catching the Washington Nationals. Oh, and the two teams face each other in a four-games-over-three-days series starting Friday afternoon.
Since the break, the Nats are 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position.
THE STATS: 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 E (Rendon, Ramos), 0-for-3 with RISP, 3 LOB
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. at Nationals Park – LHP Francisco Liriano (9-4, 2.44) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-7, 2.97)