More wasted offense

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The Nationals offense is so much better in 2009 than it was in 2008. It’s hard not to see that, and the numbers only confirm it. Last year’s team averaged 3.98 runs per game. This year’s team is averaging exactly 5.00 runs per game. That’s a huge leap from one year to the next.

And for the first time since this team has been in the District, they’ve got multiple legitimate power threats. Adam Dunn clubbed two more homers today, giving him four for the weekend and 11 for the season. He’s now tied with Albert Pujols for the NL lead. You know who the first National to reach double digits in homers last season was? How about Ronnie Belliard, who didn’t get there until August 2!

And it’s not just Dunn who’s hitting them out. Josh Willingham hammered two homers today. Ryan Zimmerman has six. Willingham, Jesus Flores and Elijah Dukes each have four. The Nats as a team have hit 37 homers in 30 games. They’re on pace to hit 200 for the season.

As Willingham put it: “We have the capability to go out and put runs up every single night.”

Unfortunately, the Nationals also have the capability of going out and giving up a bunch of runs every single night, as was the case today in a 10-8 loss to Arizona.

It wasn’t pretty. The Nats gave up 10 runs on 17 hits. Scott Olsen allowed 10 hits in a 4 1/3-inning start that he termed “awful.” Logan Kensing faced seven batters in the sixth, allowed five hits and four runs and saw his ERA skyrocket to 12.00 (it’s 15.43 in five appearances with Washington).

Trouble is, this isn’t the first time the pitching staff has wasted a good offensive showing. Get this: Already five times this year the Nationals have scored six or more runs and lost. You know how many times that happened all of last season? Nine.

“Fact is, you’re going to lose some ballgames where you score over six runs here and there,” Manny Acta said. “But if you have any type of decent ballgame, any time you score over six runs, you should be able to win the ballgame. And it’s just not happening enough here.”

No, it’s not. And you’ve got to wonder whether the offensive players are going to let this all get to them eventually. So far, they haven’t. And several guys insisted today that it won’t happen.

But, man, given the way this team is now hitting the ball, you can only wonder how decent they might be if the pitching staff was just average instead of horrid.

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Mark Zuckerman

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