After losing the second of two in Atlanta (final score: 6-2), the Washington Nationals had high hopes of rediscovering their winning ways in Cincinnati, whereÂ the strugglingÂ Redlegs are trying to decide whether to wave the white flag or make one last run at the wild card. Sadly for the Nats,Â Thursday night’s contest was among the most lopsided defeats the Anacostia nine has suffered this year, if not in number of runsÂ scored (or not scored, as the case may be), then at least psychologically. Â ThisÂ seemedÂ a reversionÂ to earlier times, when nothing worked. The Nats’ were held to two hits in their 7-0 loss at the hands of Redlegs, making starter Bronson “Bongwater” Arroyo look like Johnny Vander Meer. Arroyo, with a lackluster 4.74 ERA,Â is now 11-11.Â He was all smiles after the game.
While Nats’ fans decry the lack of starting pitching (inaugurated by John Lannan’s blow-up on Tuesday), and the woes in the bullpen (which collapsed in the loss to the Braves on Wednesday), they can now add another factor to the list of complaints: the Nats have scored three runs in three games — and they’re lucky it wasn’t worse. That’s three up and three down: no pitching, no relief pitching, no hitting. Arroyo, aÂ semi-rock star with his own albumÂ and a sometimeÂ guitarist withÂ the Quincy Massachusetts-based punk rock bandÂ Dropkick Murphys,Â looked untouchable, while Nats’ pitcher Collin Balester looked shakey. At best. Balester, now 1-2 with an even 6.00 ERA, threw strikes: but not many of them moved. The hero for the Reds was Jonny GomesÂ — a light hitting part-time former Tampa Bay Ray, who hit three home runs: two off of Balester, one off ofÂ Jason Bergman. If Arroyo looked like Johnny Vander Meer, Gomes looked like Vada Pinson.
For the first time inÂ two weeks, Washington manager Jim Riggleman was clearly irritated, his mouth set and voice rising during post-game interviews. The Nats played poorly and Rigglemam told them so in a clubhouse meeting after the Reds recorded the last Nats’ out.Â “You look flat when you get two hits and you don’t have many baserunners,” Riggleman said. “You have to create some energy. You have to be hustling down the line. You have to be running balls out. You hit fly balls, you have to round the bag hard.” The Nats face off against the Reds again tomorrow at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.