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Question of the Day
NEW YORK — Jayson Werth ran down the first-base line in a full sprint. When he stopped, he threw both hands on his batting helmet in disbelief and stomped his feet. Behind him, Washington Nationals first base coach Dan Radison flung his arms out wide in the motion of a safe call.
It didn’t matter. First base umpire Phil Cuzzi already had called Werth out, despite Daniel Murphy’s foot leaving the bag on a double-pumped throw from third by Justin Turner and without the benefit of replay that clearly would have showed his mistake.
It was the second out of the ninth inning in the Nationals’ 1-0 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday and erased what would have given Washington its best scoring opportunity.
Moments later, the Nationals walked off the field jawing at the umpires as they went shut out for the second straight game.
After the game, most Nationals were mum on the blown call. “I’m not commenting on umpires,” Werth said. “I don’t really have too many thoughts on much right now.”
The Nationals, batting just .223, are scoreless in their past 19 innings. They have been blanked seven times; second-most in the majors to San Diego’s eight.
“That’s a big call,” said Riggleman, who appealed to home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez for a second opinion after a lengthy, animated discussion with Cuzzi, but was denied.
“But we can’t let the game come down to that. We’ve got to do more. We can’t have two hits and two days in a row get shut out. We’re better than that, and we’re going to have to do better than that.”
For 5 2/3 innings, the Nationals were on pace to become the first team to be no-hit by the Mets. They were dominated by rookie right-hander Dillon Gee who no-hit them for five innings in his major league debut last September.
Before starting pitcher Livan Hernandez broke up the no-hit bid in the sixth, Washington had allowed Gee to face the minimum. The only base runner to that point, Werth, who walked, was erased when Adam LaRoche grounded into a double play. And it wouldn’t be until another full turn through the lineup that they’d get their second hit a single by Alex Cora in the eighth. It also marked the first inning the Nationals put a runner in scoring position.
Gee needed just 107 pitches to get through 8 2/3 innings.
“It’s not like we’re trying to make outs,” said pinch-hitter Matt Stairs, who sent a sinking liner into right that was caught with two on in the eighth. “We’re trying to have good at-bats. I think there’s not one person who isn’t frustrated in here. Everyone’s frustrated.”
Hernandez, who allowed one run in seven innings, was again the victim of poor run support. While the Nationals have scored just 2.3 runs a game in his starts, even that would be better than what they’ve given him lately: zero runs in his past three appearances and one in the past four.
“We’ve done too much of that,” Riggleman said of wasting another solid start. “Our hitters, believe me, they feel horrible about that. They’re trying to do everything they can to turn it around. It is what it is. You pitch good and you don’t score runs, and you’ve used up that effort.”
Said Stairs: “We know the way the pitchers have pitched, we could have a lot better record if we swung the bat well,” Stairs said. “It’s not a secret that we’re frustrated.”
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About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
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