The Washington Times - September 5, 2009, 11:14PM

The Nationals have now lost 90 games, crossing a Rubicon of bad baseball from which there’s no return, at least not this year. And from the way they played on Saturday night, it’s difficult to see them emerging from a funk the rest of the season.

Washington lost for the eighth straight time, falling 9-5 to the Marlins in a game where Livan Hernandez struggled, the offense missed chances against Josh Johnson and the bullpen gave up a few extra runs. It was essentially a primer in a basic Nationals loss, and yet it continues to happen five months into the season.


“In the beginning (of the season), we knew we had a pretty good hitting team,” catcher Wil Nieves said. “It’s tough, but it happens all year. Hopefully we’re going to finish strong. That’s all we can do. But it is tough, seeing the lineup that we have and seeing how many losses we have.”

Hernandez threw 34 pitches in the first inning, and was a hair off with his location most of the night. That’s a dangerous place to be against the Marlins, and they made him pay, scoring three runs in the first and a total of six before he left the game.

The bullpen was in action by the sixth inning for the third game in a row, and the Marlins tacked on another three runs, with pinch hitter Brett Hayes hitting his first career home run off Victor Garate, who was facing his first major-league batter.

So the Nats are now 46-90, and when you look at the remaining 26 games, it’s tough to see them even getting close to last year’s 59-102 mark. They play the Marlins tomorrow, host the Phillies, then start a nine-game road trip to Florida, Pihlly and New York before coming home for the final time to face the Braves, Dodgers and Mets. Then it’s off to Atlanta for four games to finish the year.

Only the six games against the Mets have the Nats facing a team that’s not in playoff contention, and they’re doing it with both a depleted lineup and thinned-out pitching staff.

So I’ll close with this question: How many more games do the Nats win this year? Post your responses here, and we’ll see what the bleak estimates are. Have a good night.