Gonzalez walked one more batter, Stubbs, with two outs in the next inning. McCatty again emerged from the dugout as the infielders converged on the mound. With his pitch count at 122, already the most he has thrown as a National, Gonzalez got Bourn to roll over a fastball to end the inning on his 127th pitch. Gonzalez walked off the mound into the dugout leaving most everything his left arm could provide. The rest would require an offensive burst that never came.
The passive Nationals offense reared its ugly head on Friday. An example: Denard Span worked a one-out walk in the fifth inning. Roger Bernadina swung at the first pitch he saw, a high fastball, and popped out. With Ryan Zimmerman batting, Span stole second. The score was tied 1-1 and the Nationals had their three-hole hitter up with two outs and a runner in scoring position. Zimmerman jumped ahead 3-0 on Masterson. He took two sinking fastballs down the middle to run the count full, then flailed at Masterson’s low wipeout slider.
The Post Sports Live crew projects what the next 100 games could look like for the Washington Nationals. The team was 31-31 and seven games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East as of Tuesday morning.
Insight on the Nationals and all the latest news from Post reporters Adam Kilgore and James Wagner.
“It’s getting old,” LaRoche said. “Give [Masterson] credit, he had good stuff. But still you got nine big league hitters in there. You think we could get more than a couple of hits.”
Throughout their offensive struggles, Johnson has pleaded with the Nationals hitters to be more aggressive. He and hitting coach Rick Eckstein have urged hitters to attack hittable pitches — particularly their biggest weakness, the fastball — and don’t let the pitchers dictate the at-bats. There have been a few glimpses of that but not enough to win consistently. The Nationals haven’t fielded their projected everyday lineup since April 14, and Bryce Harper is still out with a balky left knee.
“Some of the hitters are very patient in looking for pitches,” Johnson said. “I prefer to be more aggressive, but that’s who we are.”
Who they are is a .500 team in mid-June.
“It feels like we’re 15 games under .500, so I guess that’s the good news that we are at .500 as bad as we played,” LaRoche said. “Time runs out eventually. So we all just need to do what we’re capable of doing.”