Thru 4 1/2: Nats getting embarrassed

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Over the course of the last 143 games, the Nationals have had some horrific moments. They’ve blown ninth-inning leads, they’ve served up inside-the-park homers, they’ve committed more errors than anyone else in the majors.

It is entirely possible, however, that the first 4 1/2 innings of tonight’s game against the Phillies represent the ugliest baseball this team has played all year. I know that’s hard to believe, but consider everything that has led to Philadelphia’s 5-0 lead to this point…

— Garrett Mock retired only three of the first 10 batters he faced. One of those was a sacrifice bunt. Another was a double play grounder hit by Ryan Howard right into the Nats’ infield shift. And the third was a sinking liner by opposing pitcher Cliff Lee that required a diving catch by Justin Maxwell.

— The Nats’ first three batters all struck out against Lee on a total of 12 pitches.

— Josh Bard led off the third with a double, then was thrown out trying to advance on a routine grounder to second. Think about that one a little.

— Alberto Gonzalez was hit by Maxwell’s hard grounder to the left side of the infield moments later for the inning’s third out.

— Adam Dunn booted a routine grounder in the fourth, then Mock interfered with Jimmy Rollins as he rounded first.

— Mock beat out an infield single in the fifth, then inexplicably tried to advance to second when the throw got away from Ryan Howard. Mock was then thrown out at second base by 10 feet.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you the worst 4 1/2 innings of Nationals baseball all season.

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Mark Zuckerman

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