WASHINGTON -- A DJ was set up in the Nationals' clubhouse before Friday's game against the Phillies at Nationals Park, complete with large speakers and turntables, blaring music before batting practice in the latest effort from manager Dave Martinez to help liven up the team's mood and give it a
WASHINGTON -- A DJ was set up in the Nationals' clubhouse before Friday's game against the Phillies at Nationals Park, complete with large speakers and turntables, blaring music before batting practice in the latest effort from manager Dave Martinez to help liven up the team's mood and give it a spark.
However, Friday's 12-2 loss against the Phils could not have gone more wrong for the Nationals, who sustained their most lopsided defeat of the year. The Nats surrendered double-digit runs for just the third time all season and the first time since April 18.
Even though Washington fell for the eighth time in the past 11 games, the team hasn't been blown out so handily as it was in this one. And now the Nats have dropped to third place in the National League East as the Phillies moved into second.
The Nationals are hopeful the issues plaguing right-hander Tanner Roark do not continue to carry over as they have in consecutive outings. Lately, his command has been inconsistent and his pitch counts have risen early and prevented him from lasting deep into games.
At times, Roark's fastball appeared sharp as he collected seven strikeouts. But he struggled to find the strike zone consistently as he issued four walks. He was charged with six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. He spent the rest of the game analyzing video for a mechanical tweak after his outing was over, trying to find answers from his delivery from the 2016 season.
"The last two starts, I've left the bullpen out to dry, and I'm not happy about it," Roark said. "Just overall a bad start again. But I've got to stay optimistic. I found something in there. So you've got to take a positive out of a negative all the time."
Michael A. Taylor generated some runs for the Nats in the second inning, starting with a run-scoring double after an 11-pitch at-bat against right-hander Zach Eflin. Then, Taylor swiped his MLB-best 22nd stolen base of the season and scored on a sacrifice fly from Wilmer Difo. At that point the game was tied at 2, but Roark promptly surrendered a two-run home run to the red-hot Odubel Herrera the next inning and the Phillies never looked back.
"We'll come back tomorrow and play our game," Taylor said. "Games like that happen, you just kind of forget about it and move on."
Through the course of the season, teams are going to experience games like Friday night where nothing seems to go smoothly. And starting pitchers are going to struggle in back-to-back outings, but the Nationals must hope neither is a trend that will continue.
"It's not even the All-Star break yet," Roark said. "We'll be fine. I'm confident in all these guys in here. Guys are coming back from injuries. Once we get it clicking, I think we'll be OK."
Taylor extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games with a double in the second inning, tying Trea Turner for the longest streak by a Nationals player this season.
"I feel like I've found that balance of aggressiveness and patience," Taylor said. "So I feel pretty good right now."
HE SAID IT
"You know what, we're moving on. Come back tomorrow. Forget about it and go worry about tomorrow." -- Martinez, on putting the loss behind the team
In a matchup of former first-round picks from the 2014 Draft, Erick Fedde of the Nationals will match up against Aaron Nola of the Phillies on Saturday at Nationals Park. Fedde is filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg, who resumed baseball activities, and gets to pitch against someone other than the Yankees after facing them in his previous two starts. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.