Not that he has anything to do with it, really, but the Nationals under Davey Johnson have mastered doing just enough to lose. Of the 20 games since Johnson arrived, 13 have been decided by one run. The Nationals have lost the last six of those, including Wednesday’s 3-2 loss in Houston. “Boy,” Johnson said. “We play some tough games.”
This Nationals’ season has been defined in large part by how frequently they have played nail-biting games. Under Johnson, the Nationals have yet win a game by more than three runs. They’ve played 39 one-run games this year, tied with the San Francisco Giants for most on the league. The Nationals have gone 18-21 in those games, which ranks 23rd in win percentage in the majors.
“We’ve been playing like that all year,” reliever Tyler Clippard said. “The baseball season in itself is exhausting. So whether or not you’re playing one-run games every night, it doesn’t take more of a toll on you. The season in itself will take a toll on you. I think we all prepare well enough for that not to effect us.”
The Nationals have been hot and cold in games decided by the narrowest margin. They started the year 5-12 in one-run games, then went 13-3 before losing their past six. The ebb and flow of their season has been determined largely by one-run games.
Right fielder Jayson Werth described the Nationals’ recent downfall in one-run games as “not matching up,” he said. “If we pitch, we don’t hit. You hope you match up. That’s how you win games. In the second half, we’re going to have to hit and we’re going to have to pitch. Everybody in here wants to play in the postseason. I think this team has a chance to do that. We just got to match up.”