Nationals Notebook: A dry run season

Is it ever going to rain runs again in D.C.?

In their series with San Francisco, the Nationals plated just eight runs over four games. The revamped lineup has been underwhelming all season, with key cogs often misfiring at the same time.

Sunday’s 5-0 shutout of the Giants felt like an offensive explosion: in the first 62 games of the season, the Nats have been held to under three runs 26 times, and seven times in 11 games this month.

The team’s leadoff hitter is batting under .300, and while Trea Turner leads the team with 10 homers, he hasn’t gone deep since May 17. Juan Soto may be hitting .256 with 4 HR and 11 RBI this month, but he can’t carry the offense by himself.

The next two most productive players this year are Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Harrison, two veterans who aren’t designed to be full-time players on this roster. After that, there’s a huge drop of production — and it has reared its ugly head all season.

But despite another arid week at the plate, the Nats went 3-3 against two division leaders. They’re still only seven-and-a-half games out of first place in the NL East. But in a world where Stephen Strasburg is on the Injured List and Max Scherzer left his most recent start in the first inning, the runs need to start raining or they’ll be out of the running.

Digesting the division: The banged-up New York Mets remain in first at 32-25, with the newest injury involving Jacob deGrom who tossed six scoreless innings Friday, ripped a two-run single, and then took a seat with right flexor tendonitis. Just another night in Queens. Philadelphia (32-31) won four straight to move back over .500 thanks in part to Jean Segura’s .476 with 8 RBI week. Atlanta (30-33) slips into third base after losing consecutive series to the Phillies and Miami. Miami (29-36) won both of their series last week to stay out of last place while the Nationals (27-35) remain in the cellar.

O’s woes: The Birds got swept for the eighth time this season, slipping in Tampa Bay Sunday. Their 22-42 mark is the worst in the American League and the team’s -68 run differential is fourth-worst in the majors. The bright spot of 2021 remains the play of Trey Mancini, who’s now on pace to hit 30 homers with 118 RBI one year after recovering from cancer.

Say isn’t that? Michael A. Taylor went 2-for-20 to drop to .237 on the season for Kansas City. Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton improves to .200 by hitting 3-for-13. Wilmer Difo is now with Pittsburgh’s triple-A minor league club Indianapolis while Wil Crowe allowed two runs over five innings in his first outing for the Pirates since June 1, bringing his ERA down from 7.26 to 6.75. Sean Doolittle allowed three runs over three innings, pumping his ERA for the year up to 4.76.

Last week’s heroes: Josh Harrison went 7-for-17 while Kyle Schwarber hit three homers with a team-high 6 RBI. Joe Ross tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday to help the Nats secure a split with San Francisco while Erick Fedde threw five scoreless Saturday when it looked as though the Nats might get swept at home.

Last week’s humbled: Trea Turner hit .174 to dip under .300 for the season, while Josh Bell hit .188. Victor Robles added another base-running blunder to his burgeoning folder Saturday night by being tagged out in extra innings. Wander Suero posted an ERA of 13.50 while Kyle Finnegan recorded a 6.75 ERA.

Game to watch: Friday, the first-place Mets come to town — and while Joey Lucchesi (1-4, 5.18 ERA) is no Jacob deGrom, Joe Ross (3-6, 4.19) is no Max Scherzer. And the Nats are a less than ideal 7-13 in series openers. This could be the start of a weekend of redemption or one that buries the Nats further down the standings.

Game to miss:¬†Sunday Patrick Corbin and his 6.21 ERA start against the Mets, but our eyes will be focused out west. Golf’s U.S. Open wraps up with more than a few storylines in play involving the Brooks-Bryson bickering as well as Phil Mickelson looking to complete the career grand slam. Fore!

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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