Giants Pounce on Listless Nats

Perception means a lot. The Nationals are noted for their less than inspiring play on the field. They took a lot of called strikes, gave the umpire disapproving glares but continued to take too many pitches. Davey Martinez finally said something from the dugout that the umpire did not like and was tossed. He went out to say his peace, perhaps in an effort to motivate his troops. It failed. The Giants crushed the Nationals 7-3, their bullpen failing to hold the score to give the Nationals offense an opportunity to come back.

The Nationals struck first in the second inning. Wilmer Difo hustled a hit into left centerfield into a double. With one out Stephen Strasburg was given permission to swing the bat and he lined a pitch into right center that rolled to the wall to score Difo for a 1-0 lead. Dereck Rodriguez was too much for the Nationals after that, not getting a runner to second base in his five innings of work. Two tried, but Brian Dozier was caught stealing in the third and Victor Robles was caught in the fifth. A replay seemed to show Dozier had beaten his throw to second but the umpire watching the video did not agree.

Strasburg had a two hit shutout through four, striking out four. The wheels came off for him in the fifth. Evan Longoria led off the inning with a homerun into the right field bleachers. Steven Duggar deposited a Strasburg fastball into the left field bullpen for a two run shot to give the Giants a 3-1 lead. They tacked on another run in the sixth on a line drive from Brandon Belt into the Nationals bullpen in right field. Strasburg left after that inning, his ERA rising to 5.56.

In the seventh the Nationals brought in the new guy Austen Williams to help with their bullpen woes. It did not work. He walked Kevin Pillar, who stole second and was driven in by Gerardo Parra on a double down the left field line. Williams left without retiring a batter and Matt Grace and his double digit ERA came in to pitch. After striking out the first hitter he booted a grounder to put runners on first and third. Joe Panik executed a safety squeeze, Ryan Zimmerman turned to throw to first, but Dozier was late covering the bag. That put the Giants up 6-1.

In the bottom of the seventh Matt Adams blasted the first pitch from Sam Dyson just inside the right field foul pole into the second deck to lead off the inning. The Nationals tacked on another run when Adam Eaton grounded one just underneath the glove of Brandon Belt for a double. He scored on a Anthony Rendon single up the middle. That brought in Tony Watson to retire Juan Soto on a grounder to short to end the inning.

The Nationals had Trevor Rosenthal warming up in the bullpen. When they started to rally another pitcher began warming up, sending the signal that if the game got too close Rosenthal was not to be trusted. The game did not get close enough. Trevor came in, threw a first pitch strike and then hit Brandon Belt. He walked Brandon Crawford and heard the boos. Even Longoria struck out too derisive cheers. Kevin Pillar ran the count to 2-2 and blooped a single into right center to score Belt with another run. Trevor was able to retire the last two hitters, the last out recorded on a over the shoulder catch by Difo on a blooper into right center that appeared to be destined to be another hit. The Nationals players slapped Rosenthal on the back for completing the inning, even though he gave up one run, lowering his ERA to 40.50.

The Nationals bats were retired easily by Mark Melancon and Will Smith in the last two innings. Watching them they do not appear to have the talent to be a playoff club. The bullpen is weak and does not appear to have the capability to protect leads. This could force Martinez to leave his starters in too long, tiring them as the season wears down. They make too many base running errors and sloppy fundamentals in the field. In April they have not been a pretty team to watch.

Nats Notes: It was Jackie Robinson day. All the players wore number 42. That can be a nightmare for a score keeper to keep track of the changes on the field…The Nationals trotted out four relievers. When their day was done the ERAs for the four were Austen Williams (infinity), Matt Grace (8.53), Trevor Rosenthal (40.50) and Tony Sipp (13.50)…Brian Dozier is not helping his cause to stay with the Nationals. Howie Kendrick pinch hit for him in seventh. Kendrick is hitting .471 while Dozier is hitting .152…The RBI single by Anthony Rendon in the seventh extended his hitting streak to a career best 14. He is hitting .397…Rosenthal threw mostly fastballs, hitting 96-100. He still had difficulty finding the plate, saddling himself with two ball counts to three hitters and walking another. Despite giving up a run National players congratulated him on finishing the inning, the first time he has been able to do that this season…Buster Posey is now 6 for 10 in throwing runners out trying to steal against him. His bat may be struggling (.192) but he is still playing solid defense.

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