The Washington Nationals lost the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-0, Friday to drop to 15-23. Here are five observations from the game…
1. Anibal Sanchez again didn’t pitch well, and a relatively quiet offense was not a remedy for that situation.
The Nationals lost in Los Angeles on Friday night. At a minimum, they played a quality defensive game. What they didn’t do was find a way to get to Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda.
Maeda allowed just a hit -- a punch single by Wilmer Difo -- in six innings.
Philadelphia lost, Atlanta and New York won earlier in the night. So, the Nationals tread water for another day.
The next two games will be a chance to salvage this final portion of the bumpy road trip. Max Scherzer starts Saturday. Stephen Strasburg pitches Sunday.
2. Sanchez was mediocre again, and the Nationals have to be wondering about their two-year investment.
He survived 4 ⅓ innings, allowed six hits -- two home runs to Joc Pederson -- walked two and struck out three. His ERA is 5.27. Good defense Saturday (outside of Adam Eaton’s ill-advised dive in right field which let a pop-up skip by and a run score) and a cleanup job by Justin Miller assured the result was not worse.
Sanchez has made eight starts for the Nationals. He’s pitched into the seventh inning once, the sixth inning twice and five or fewer innings five times.
The less Sanchez pitches, the more the league’s worst bullpen pitches. Not a great combination.
3. Matt Grace’s struggle continues.
He allowed a two-run homer in the seventh inning to David Freese in the seventh inning. His ERA is up to 7.50.
Miller’s rescue of the fifth inning put the Nationals’ bullpen off to a good start. It didn’t take long to undermine that.
Grace was a key last season in a bullpen which struggled. This year, right-handed batters are clobbering his left-handed deliveries. He’s been used in high-leverage and low-leverage scenarios. He hasn’t found any situation to his liking.
In other bullpen news, both Joe Ross and Erick Fedde appeared as relievers in the same game for the first time. Ross threw a scoreless sixth inning. Fedde pitched a scoreless eighth.
4. Limited offense for the Nationals on Saturday, but the box score will be a tad misleading.
Washington loaded the bases in the eighth inning. Anthony Rendon pulled a first-pitch fastball from Julio Urias down the third base line. Max Muncy dove, grabbed the ball, then sprinted toward third, dove again and narrowly put his glove on the bag before Difo slid in. The play saved two runs, a probable pitching change and a shift in the game.
5. Gerardo Parra hit fifth during his Nationals debut. Interesting.
Parra in the middle of the lineup allowed manager Davey Martinez to spread out left-handed hitters on a rare night when he had three available.
He is a better hitter against right-handed pitching. However, he came into the game 3-for-19 career against Maeda. A nice play by Muncy in the first prevent Parra from picking up a single in his first at-bat.
The Nationals have a decision to make Saturday. Juan Soto is ready to come off the 10-day injured list. They need to remove someone from the 25-man roster to make space for Soto. Do they carry five outfielders? Or send one of them out?