One month ago today, on an idyllic day in Southern California, Davey Johnson walked into the Washington Nationals dugout and managed his first baseball game in 11 years. He loved every minute, he said afterward, even though they lost. He savored the challenge and could not wait for more.
After the 10-game stretch coming out of the all-star break, some of that verve, at least outwardly, has drained from Johnson. It is hard to love every minute of recording five hits in two games, or of falling into last place. His record is 9-15, which is the fourth-worst record in the majors over that span.
“I have a high boiling point,” Johnson said after last night’s loss. “And I’m getting closer to it.”
A breath later, Johnson said, “I know we’re a better ball club than we’ve shown at times. The fact that they’re in last place is at least somewhat a function of the NL East – in any other division, the Nationals would be at least five games clear of last place. It hasn’t helped that they’ve gone 14-22 against NL East opponents, either.
“We’ve had good stretches where we’ve played really well,” Nix said. “That wasn’t a fluke. We’re going to do that again. We could easily get on another 10-, 12-game streak. The makeup of this is such that, that can happen.”
When he took over, Johnson said he preferred to keep his lineup the same on a daily basis. But he admitted last night that, “I’ll probably make some changes tomorrow.” They may start with leadoff hitter Roger Bernadina, who is 0 for his last 14 with two walks.
The Nationals believe they’re better than they’re playing since the all-star break. What is the disconnect, then? Why aren’t the Nationals playing like that the team that was an eight-run collapse away from being three games over .500 three days before the break?
“I don’t know,” Johnson said. “We’re striking out more than I think we should, and we take a lot of called third strikes. If we’re going to go down, let’s go down hacking. I look at all the hitters in the lineup, and all the hitters in the lineup have potential to do a lot better than they’re doing.
“From afar, I always felt like we were trying to do too much. Now that I’m here on top of it, it appears to me that we’re maybe being a little cautious and not coming out of swinging. That’s something I’ve been addressing with them as a whole.”
FROM THE POST
The Nationals extended their streak without a hit at one point to 39 outs during their 11-2 loss to the Marlins, a defeat that dropped into last place.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Columbus 3, Syracuse 0: Columbus starter Justin Germano threw a perfect game. Craig Stamme allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings on 11 hits and two walks, striking out three.
Bowie 6, Harrisburg 2: Bryce Harper went 0 for 3 with a walk. Derek Norris went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.
Potomac 4, Wilimington 3: Destin Hood went 2 for 4 with a walk. Sandy Leon went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Eury Perez went 2 for 4.
Wilimington 4, Potomac 3: Destin Hood went 1 for 3 with a triple. Danny Rosenbaum allowed one run in six innings on six hits and a walk, striking out six.
Greenville 11, Hagerstown 4: Chris Curran went 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk.
Auburn was off.