Detroit Tigers left fielder Brennan Boesch was a nightmare on Wednesday for the Nationals. He went 3 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBI. Since Boesch was called up from their AAA affiliate in Toledo on April 24th, he has been incredible. He's hit .344 with 9 home runs and 34 RBI.
Livan Hernandez was a different story. Livan almost got yanked in the 2nd inning with no outs. He walked 3 runners in the 2nd inning, one with the bases loaded. He seemed to be fighting control issues throughout the whole game. His delivery looked choppy and forced. When all was said and done, Livan made it 6 2/3 innings, giving up 8 runs on only 7 hits. That's not a typo; he walked 6 Tigers. That is not Livo's game.
The Nats offense did what it has done so often this season: scored early runs. Dunn got a home run off of Verlander in the first, Bernadina in the 2nd. But the team would score only one more run in the 6th off of a Pudge RBI. The Nats lost 8-3. The Nationals pitching, besides a 21 year old kid, has been uninspired. In June, the starting pitchers ERA is above 4.00. Without Strasburg, it's worse.
It seems like since Strasburg came up and the Nats left DC (and the Pittsburgh Pirates as an opponent), the pitching rotation has disintegrated. Jim Riggleman has changed the starting line up almost impulsively. The last time the Nats fielded the same 8 guys back to back was June 5th and 6th; or 11 days ago. Not exactly the consistent lineup you hope for.
Instead, the Nats have lost 20 of their last 31 games, and have spiraled to 4 games below the .500 mark (31-35). The solid pitching from the early part of the season is gone, the offense is stagnating, and the "regular starters" are getting no consistency. Players certainly need time off, but spot starting a guy like Michael Morse (who is batting .424 in 33 ABs) just doesn't make any sense. Especially when you start Willie Harris instead (who is now batting .158 after going 0 for 3 on Wednesday).
Riggleman has a tough job, and it's easy to forget while watching frustrating games. He has rarely had a lead late into the games, and he's had to go to the bullpen early. But the Nats need to do something, and they need to do it badly.
I propose a move in the outfield to put Bernadina in center and Morse in right once the team returns to DC. You just have to find a way to get Morse in the lineup. The team looks to avoid a sweep on Thursday with Luis Atilano on the mound before Strasburg goes for the Nats on Friday against Mark Buehrle. The Nats absolutely need the win on Thursday to avoid a dreadful 1-5 road trip. We'll see what Riggs does to get this team moving again. Until later...