The Washington Nationals had searched all season for a hinge, the victory that would beget more victories, a demarcation between a nightmare start and the moment they wake up. Maybe, they thought, it had arrived Tuesday night. The Nationals had dogpiled in the middle of the diamond for the first time. Manager Davey Johnson shaved his gray scruff, the scraggly goatee he had worn for weeks as a hex breaker. “It’s time to go,” right fielder Jayson Werth said.
Baseball loves its cliches, and maybe the most frequently repeated dictates momentum carries as far as the next day’s starting pitcher. On Wednesday night, in a 10-1 dumpster fire against the New York Mets, the good vibes created the night before evaporated under the unsteady care of Dan Haren. He surrendered three home runs and lasted only four innings, continuing his own rocky season and halting any whiff of a Nationals winning streak.
The Post Sports Live crew debates whether it’s better for the team if injured Nationals play through the pain.
The Post Sports Live crew looks at the issues plaguing the Washington Nationals, including injuries to Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg and the team’s poor defense.
On the day they placed Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list and made Anthony Rendon their second baseman, the Nationals (29-30) tumbled back below .500 and into third place, passed by the Philadelphia Phillies, who had won in the afternoon. They will wake up Thursday morning a season-high eight games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves — and only 41
2 games ahead of the fourth-place Mets.
“We definitely haven’t got going the way we’ve been hoping to get going,” center fielder Denard Span said. “There’s really no explanation for it. We just haven’t played good. I’m going to be honest. Just all across the board.”
Haren earned the brunt of the blame, allowing seven hits and five runs in his four innings. By the end of his short night, he tied for the major league lead in home runs allowed with 15, and his ERA had risen to 5.45. For Haren to match his season ERA with his career ERA entering this year, he would have to throw 331
3 consecutive scoreless innings. Some nights he feels encouraged, and Wednesday night he just felt lost.
“I have no idea,” Haren said. “It’s not for lack of trying. I’m going out there. I’m doing my best. I feel like I’m letting down the team, fans, front office, everybody. No one feels worse about it than me. But I’ve got to take the ball in five days, and I’ve got to believe because the team needs me. And I know I’m good. I’ve been good at times this year. Just no consistency whatsoever.”
Once Haren exited, the Mets teed off against the Nationals’ newly configured bullpen. They scored two runs off Craig Stammen in the fifth and three more off Erik Davis, making his second career appearance, in the seventh. In between, 22-year-old left-hander Ian Krol made his big league debut with a scoreless, three-strikeout inning.
The seats at Nationals Park began vacating in the seventh after the Nationals’ offense produced another empty performance against an eminently hittable opposing starter. Right-hander Dillon Gee entered with a 5.68 ERA. Span scored on Ian Desmond’s RBI single in the first inning, and afterward they either squandered rallies or failed to start them.