December 19, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 54 Review: Nats offense hits new low in shutout to Garcia

The Washington Nationals, one night after participating in a home run derby with the Baltimore Orioles, found themselves on the other end of the spectrum Thursday evening. A pitcher’s duel turned into one of the Nats more dispiriting losses, as Freddie Garcia and Jim Johnson combined on a three-hit shutout, leaving Dan Haren on the rough end of a 2-0 loss in Charm City. The Orioles took three out of four games in the pair of two-game series this week.

Garcia, the 15-year MLB veteran who’s been left for dead several times already in his career, entered the game with a 4.61 ERA in five starts this season for the O’s. Garcia has kept his walks down this season, sporting a decent 1.207 WHIP in 27 1/3 innings, but had managed a paltry nine strikeouts (3.03/nine innings). Naturally, Garcia doubles his season average against the Nats (27-27), striking out six Nats — including Tyler Moore twice — and walking no one in his eight innings.

Johnson, the Orioles maligned closer, pitched a clean ninth inning for his 17th save of the season, with an additional strikeout to the ledger.

The Nationals’ lineup was so futile against the O’s two pitchers, only three hitters earned a fourth at bat in the evening. Washington had exactly two innings where more than three hitters came to bat.

On the other side, Haren (L, 4-6) had one of his most impressive outings of the season, limiting the potent Orioles offense to eight hits — and no home runs — over 7 1/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 5.09. But he would have had to have been perfect Thursday night, and even at that, they might still be played due tot he Nats ineffectiveness at the plate.

THE GOOD: Dan Haren. He’s had an up-and-down season, but this one really smacks of competence. The O’s can mash and Haren did his job keeping them to two runs and no homers. Too bad the offense couldn’t help him out any.

THE BAD: Tyler Moore. 0-for-3 with 2 Ks. Hitting .144 for the season. He was the sixth man in the batting order last night.

THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa. Espi continues to just make outs, even after sitting for six days to allow his broken wrist to calm down. He went 0-for-3 hitting in the ninth spot in the order, and is hitting .162/.195/.482 this year.

THE STATS: 3 hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. 0-for-3 with RISP, 3 LOB. No errors, 2 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:30 pm at the Atlanta Braves. Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.49) faces Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.67).

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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