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50 games under .500

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The Nationals have had some low moments in the five years since they arrived here in town from Montreal. Until today, though, they hadn’t reached these depths: 50 games under the .500 mark.

Yes, the Nats are 52-102. Stop and think about that. It’s pretty astounding. They’ve already lost as many games as they did last season — admittedly a horrible season — and there are still eight games left to be played, five against the still-in-contention Braves, who beat them today by the hefty count of 11-5.

Today’s loss under rainy conditions had it all. Garrett Mock was rocked again, allowing four runs in the first inning (admittedly thanks in part to some bad defense and some little squibbers that got through). Said defense committed three errors, two by Elijah Dukes. The lineup was stymied by rookie sensation Tommy Hanson. And the bullpen absolutely imploded during a five-run ninth.

Not to single one guy out, but I feel the need to mention Ron Villone here. I know he’s 39 years old and is willing to take the ball 162 times a year if needed. But since his string of 19 scoreless appearances to begin his Nats career, he’s been absolutely dreadful. In 40 appearances since then, Villone has a 7.76 ERA. He’s allowed 64 batters to reach base in 26 2/3 innings. Opponents’ OPS against him is 1.068. Basically, that means every batter that steps in against him is Albert Pujols.

OK, but enough about one guy. Everyone is to blame for this season. And everyone feels miserable about it. I was particularly interested in what Adam Dunn had to say this afternoon. Dunn has been in the majors nine seasons, and he’s yet to play for a winning team (yes, he was in Arizona for six weeks at the end of last season, but the Diamondbacks went 18-22 after his acquisition to finish at 82-80). He’s pretty much at a loss for words right now.

“It’s the most frustrated, I think, I’ve ever been in my life,” Dunn said. “I know everybody keeps saying we’re not as bad as this or that. But we’re not winning. I don’t know what you can point your finger to. I don’t have an answer.”

Nats fans had better hope this team has some answers, positive ones, in the next 12 months. Otherwise, you’ve got to wonder whether Dunn will want to stick around once his contract expires.

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Mark Zuckerman

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