The Washington Times - May 17, 2009, 07:29PM

There’s plenty that I could say about the Nats’ 8-6 loss to the Phillies this afternoon. I could point out that Jordan Zimmermann continues to have first-inning struggles (his first-inning ERA is 19.50. After that, it’s 3.54). I could mention that the Washington lineup once again produced in vain. This team has amazingly lost nine games this season in which it has scored six or more runs, equalling its total from all of 2008. I could point out that the bullpen blew its 12th save in 18 opportunities, fell to 1-12 and now owns a 6.24 ERA.

But really, none of that would have mattered had the Nats simply executed a routine defensive play in the eighth inning today.

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The situation: Up 6-5 with runners on first and second, Pedro Feliz dropped a bunt between the pitcher’s mound and third base. Both Jesus Colome and Ryan Zimmerman came charging in and stabbed at the ball. It was tough to tell who actually had it, but then Colome winged a perfect strike to first base that should have beat Feliz.

Just one problem: Anderson Hernandez, who had moved over to cover first base, just watched the ball sail right past him and down the right-field line, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score.

Uh, Anderson, what happened?

“I don’t see it,” he said.

How were you not able to see it?

“I don’t know if it was the crowd or what, but I can’t see it,” he said. “I can’t catch it if I can’t see it.”

Hernandez wouldn’t say it, but the prevailing theory around the Nats clubhouse was that Hernandez thought Zimmerman was the one who picked up the ball. And since Zim didn’t make any throwing motion, Hernandez never felt it necessary to stick his glove up.

But man, what a wretched play. And certainly one that was emblematic of the Nationals’ overall struggles.

Perhaps Zimmerman had the best line when I asked him whether it just seems like these kind of bizarre plays are happening to the Nats right now.

“I’m sure it’s happened before,” Zimmerman said before adding the kicker: “But it seems like we can do some stuff right now that other people can’t.”