In losing his latest, which snapped a three-game Nationals winning streak, Maya received plenty of help. He left the game with the bases loaded down a run, and watched as Doug Slaten jogged into the game and surrendered a three-run triple. The Nationals’ offense was shut out for the eighth game this season, primarily by right-handed rookie Josh Collmenter, who has a 1.25 ERA and who throws as if he’s about to scratch his back, then decides to hurl a pitch instead.
While Maya was not the only culprit, he again provided little reason to believe he’ll turn into the pitcher the Nationals wanted when they signed him last summer to a four-year, $6 million contract. He lasted less than five innings for the second straight start, allowing six hits and three walks. Like most of his starts, he avoided major trouble and then crumbled in one inning. In seven career starts, he has a 6.43 ERA.
“He’s in these situations a lot,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “He puts you in that situation where, you’re trying to get him through five. That seems to happen in the middle of the ballgame. You can’t keep getting in these situations. I don’t know what to tell you.”
Still, in five days, the Nationals plan to send Maya to the mound. His next start will come June 8, also the date Tom Gorzelanny, the left-hander Maya replaced in rotation, is set to come off the disabled list. But Riggleman said Gorzelanny will need work before he joins the team on their current road trip and is “a long shot” to join the team.
So Maya will get another chance.
“He finally realized he needs to pitch,” catcher Ivan Rodriguez said, translating answers from Maya as he took questions from reporters. “No throwing the baseball. He needs to locate and throw the baseball where he wants to throw it next time.”
Maya’s only significant blemish in his first four innings Friday came when Chris Young crunched a solo homer to left to lead off the second. The Nationals trailed only 1-0 until the fifth inning. But Maya has yet to start without collapsing in a given inning, and so the fifth carried with it a sense of dread.
Maya, true to form, followed up two scoreless innings by walking Collmenter, the pitcher, on five pitches to start the fifth — “the key at-bat,” Riggleman said. Ryan Roberts followed by lashing a double to left-center on the first pitch he saw. Maya struck out Kelly Johnson on a 67 mph curve, and for a brief moment, it appeared like he might wiggle out of the jam. Then he drilled Justin Upton with the first pitch he threw.