Nationals stuck in neutral vs. Wainwright, Cards
Defense commits four errors, while offense musters just two hits
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are off to a slow start when it comes to proving they belong in the same league as the Cardinals.
Washington had a tough time catching the baseball on Thursday night in an 8-0 loss at Nationals Park. The Nationals have lost eight consecutive games to the Cardinals, dating back to Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series.
What made this loss even worse was that the Nationals made four errors, two of them by shortstop Ian Desmond. And that doesn't account for the misplays that were ruled hits. In the first inning, for example, Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan misplayed a ball off the bat of Kolten Wong that was ruled a hit. Jordan had a tough time getting the ball out of his glove and Wong beat Jordan's throw to first.
After the game, manager Matt Williams had a closed door meeting with his players. When it was time to talk to reporters, Williams was clearly upset, but declined to reveal what he said to his players.
"That's for me and my team." Williams said. "I seem very upset? I'm just not answering that question. That's for me and my team, and nobody else's business. Regarding the game, it was probably the worst one we played."
Catcher Jose Lobaton confirmed that Williams was upset after the game.
"Not only him, I think everybody," Lobaton said. "It's all in everybody's faces. We are a little down. We know that we played pretty bad. We are professionals and we have to get ready for tomorrow."
The offense was stymied by Adam Wainwright, who pitched a two-hit shutout. The only time the Nationals had a legitimate chance to score was in the second inning. They had runners on first and second and no outs, but Danny Espinosa flied out and Nate McLouth grounded out. After Lobaton was walked intentionally, Jordan struck out looking.
"He has four pitches that [he] can throw at any time in any count," catcher Yadier Molina said. "We can go with a curveball, we can go with a cutter. It's so good that he can do that. Anytime you see a guy who can throw four pitches for strikes, it's tough to hit. And that's what he showed tonight."
Said Williams: "[Wainwright] throws two kinds of fastballs and spots it well. He threw a lot of curveballs tonight. He has the ability to reach back when he needs to and throw at 94 [miles per hour]. He is a pretty special pitcher."
It was Desmond's error in the first inning that helped St. Louis score three runs. With runners on first and second, no outs, and Jordan on the mound, Matt Holliday doubled down the third-base line scoring Matt Carpenter, who reached base on the error by Desmond. Desmond leads the Major Leagues in errors with seven. He is looking like the player who made a lot of errors in 2010 and '11.
"The first ball of the game, I booted. I set the tone. If I want to be captain of this team, and I do, I have to be better than that," Desmond said. "I've been in some dark places defensively and this is right there with them."
Matt Adams followed Holliday and grounded out to second baseman Espinosa, but Wong scored on the play. Molina then followed with a single to left field, scoring Holliday to make it 3-0.
The Cardinals scored their fourth run three innings later. Wainwright hit a ground ball to Desmond, who threw to Espinosa for the force at second, but Espinosa dropped the ball and Peralta scored on the play.
"We verified with our guys, it looked like [Espinosa] didn't have a lot of control," Williams said. "It was a tough throw down and away from him, trying to turn two and trying to get two out of it."
Jordan lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs -- five earned -- and striking out four batters.
St. Louis scored four additional runs by the seventh inning. Adams highlighted the scoring with a two-run single in the sixth inning off of Blake Treinen.
So how do you fix the defense? Williams said the Nationals will continue to work hard before games to make things right.
"We'll keep grinding away at it," Williams said. "We will go out there tomorrow and we'll certainly take a full [batting practice], full grounders. It is scheduled to be extra work for the pitchers tomorrow. It's part of the schedule. ... We do it all the time. What to make of [the bad defense]? I don't know."