WASHINGTON -- The lingering effects of a long West Coast road trip seemingly caught up to the Nationals during a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday night at Nationals Park, where the team looked sluggish and tired.They committed three errors and were not sharp on defense behind right-hander Tanner
WASHINGTON -- The lingering effects of a long West Coast road trip seemingly caught up to the Nationals during a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday night at Nationals Park, where the team looked sluggish and tired.
They committed three errors and were not sharp on defense behind right-hander Tanner Roark, who allowed a season-high 11 hits in six innings. Three of the five runs he allowed were unearned.
"We were probably just a little bit sluggish on defense today," second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "Probably made [Roark] throw some extra pitches that he didn't deserve. But I didn't think he was too much different. They had good at-bats. Just a little mini-blip on the radar, if you want to call it that."
Normally, manager Dusty Baker likes to manage toward off-days, trying to strategically plan days off in the schedule for his players, especially his veterans, to get them through the next break in the schedule.
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However, the Nationals are in the midst of a particularly unrelenting portion of their schedule. They are playing 21 consecutive days, in between their last off-day on June 1 and their next on June 22.
With that in mind and coming off a long road trip, Baker rested a few regulars Thursday night -- Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters -- but noted the second night back after this sort of road trip is tougher than most days, and it showed Friday.
"We tried to combat it yesterday for today, but like I said we were just a little flat," Baker said. "There's not much you can do about it."
The limited off days are also why Baker said he chose to begin the seventh with Roark, before he allowed a solo home run to Rougned Odor. But Roark, perhaps one of the most competitive members of the team, was not ready to use the schedule as a reason for the team's loss Friday.
"No. No excuses," Roark said. "We got to play every game, so go out there and give it 110 percent and leave it all out there."
Still, the schedule will be difficult this weekend. These three games at Nationals Park all have different start times, including a quick turnaround from Friday night with a 12:05 p.m. ET start on Saturday.
"Catch up on your sleep," Baker said. "A very short night tonight. It'll be tough tomorrow, but this team seems to respond well to tough situations."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.