WASHINGTON -- While the Nationals have been mired in an offensive funk, they have insisted there is no reason to panic so early in the season. They have a veteran lineup loaded with talented hitters, which was supposed to be one of their strengths this season. Yet, in addition with
WASHINGTON -- While the Nationals have been mired in an offensive funk, they have insisted there is no reason to panic so early in the season. They have a veteran lineup loaded with talented hitters, which was supposed to be one of their strengths this season. Yet, in addition with the members of their lineup off to slow starts, the Nationals already have two key hitters on the disabled list in Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy, and saw third baseman Anthony Rendon exit this game early after fouling a ball off his left big toe in the fifth. X-rays after the game were negative.
It all combined for a lackluster 2-1 loss to the Rockies on Friday night at Nationals Park, where the Nats were held to a season-low four hits for the second night in a row. Washington now has dropped eight of its last 10 games after starting the season 4-0. Its offense is averaging less than three runs per game during that span.
"We've got really good hitters, and I know that we're going to hit," manager Dave Martinez said. "If our pitching continues to give us a chance to win, we're going to start winning these games, I know we are."
The Nats did receive good news about Rendon, who did not come out of the game until the start of the seventh inning, when he noticed he was favoring his foot. Although he was relieved the toe was not broken, it was bandaged after the game and he admitted it still hurts. Still, Rendon did not rule out playing Saturday, saying it would depend on how he felt in the morning.
"It could feel great in the morning," Rendon said. "We'll see."
Right-hander Tanner Roark was solid in six innings of two-run ball, even if he did not have much run support. He allowed a home run to Carlos Gonzalez in the fourth and a sacrifice fly to Gonzalez in the sixth, which brought home an unearned run after an error by Trea Turner earlier in the inning.
The Nationals have little margin for error right now without their struggling offense unable to cover for any mistakes. So an error like Turner's -- who left the clubhouse before reporters had the chance to ask him about it -- loom large in this defeat.
"I really believe you give good teams 28, 29 outs, bad things are going to happen," Martinez said. "As we've seen, it has become magnified and it has hurt us."
The Rockies' bullpen made the slim lead hold up. After 4 2/3 innings from left-hander Kyle Freeland, five Rockies relievers combined to keep the Nationals hitless for the final 4 1/3 innings, with closer Wade Davis tossing a scoreless ninth to secure the victory.
"We're what -- 12 games in? 15 games in?" Rendon said. "Yeah, we're not starting off great like we would hope to, but we've done this in the past, too. We're not stressing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Nationals had a chance for a big inning in the fifth after a bloop single from Roark led to a bases-loaded rally with one out. Martinez said he thought that bloop single would end up being the spark for a team breakout, but instead they managed just one run, on a sacrifice fly from Bryce Harper.
"Had an opportunity bases loaded, didn't get it done," Harper said. "But I think as a team we are having good at-bats plugging along the best we can."
HE SAID IT
"I don't think there's any sense of urgency. Just get a little more fight in us and I think we'll be OK. I mean, we squared the ball up pretty good today, they were just at some people. We'll be patient and not let them get the best of us." -- Roark, on the early season funk
"I think everybody knows how good he is, how good he can be for us especially in that two hole. He does a great job for us seeing a lot of pitches, taking advantage of mistakes the pitcher's thrown. Hopefully he can get back in there in the next couple of days." -- Harper, on Rendon's importance to the lineup
Max Scherzer will aim to follow up a memorable outing in his last start, where he threw a 10-strikeout, no-walk shutout, and also stole his first career base. If he strikes out 10 batters again Saturday afternoon, he will become one of 17 pitchers in MLB history to reach double-digit strikeouts three times in a team's first 15 games. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.