(July 22-25) Offensive Woes Continue in 3-1 Series Loss against Pirates
The Washington Nationals entered the week in deep trouble, so much that they fired their hitting coach, Rick Eckstein, for a lack of offense that has plagued the team all season long. But Eckstein’s termination didn’t help much as the Nats still lost 4-of-7 games played this week, including a 3-1 series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The first loss came in Game One against the Pirates. Washington trailed 5-0 through the first five innings, but they charged back to make it a close contest before losing, 6-5. Jayson Werth nailed two home runs and Adam LaRoche added another home run, proving the Nats’ bats were a bit motivated following the firing of their hitting coach. Still, it wasn’t enough to avoid the loss.
Game Two was a complete struggle for Washington’s offense as they recorded just three hits in the entire game in a 5-1 loss.
The offense wouldn’t improve any more in Game Three as the Nats’ had just five hits in a 4-2 loss; the lack of offense squandered one of starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s lone impressive performances of the season. Stras lasted eight innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out 12 batters.
Washington, however, finally got the offense rolling in Game Four as the team had 14 hits in a 9-7 win over the Pirates. Three different batters had at least three hits, including Bryce Harper who nailed the first walk-off home run of his career to snap Washington’s losing slump.
(July 26-27) Walk-off Homers Push Nats up, 2-1 in Series against Mets
Washington played a double-header on July 26 against the New York Mets, one game serving as a makeup contest. The First Game was an 11-0 loss as starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched perhaps his worst game of the season. Zimmermann gave up five runs in five innings pitched before he was pulled from the mound. Washington put up eight hits but couldn’t find a way to home plate in the shutout loss.
The Second Game played that night was a 2-1 win. Washington only had six hits but one of them was a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman, the second walk-off home run win for the Nats in two days.
Washington added more home runs in a 4-1 win in Game Three against the Mets; Ian Desmond, Denard Span and Bryce Harper each hit home runs as starting pitcher Dan Haren picked up his first win since May. Haren gave up just three hits and one run in seven innings pitched and closer Rafael Soriano came in to record his 26th save of the season.
Analysis:Anytime a team fires coaches this late in the season it’s a dead giveaway that the team may be slipping away from playoff contention. However, Washington terminating its hitting coach may have been what the team needed because there has been some spark from the team at plate. The team still falls into offensive slumps that last multiple games at a time, but it was inspiring to see the Nats’ nailing home runs at the end of this week.
Nats’ Player of the Week: Bryce Harper
Harper recorded eight hits, four runs, four RBIs and two home runs this week.
Washington starts the week completing their home series against the Mets. After an off-day, they will have two away games with the Detroit Tigers on July 30-31, and end the week on the road with a series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 2-4.