- Astros 4, Nationals 1 (14 innings)
As far as I'm concerned, there's no particular shame in scraping together just one run against The Rocket, who's putting together the best statistical season for a pitcher I can remember seeing. Matching that total against Wandy Rodriguez (Wandy? Really, for the love of God, Wandy?) though, is another matter. This isn't an offensive slump. If Wily Taveres hadn't been doing his best Helen Keller impersonation in centerfield Saturday night, we would likely have lost that game 2-0, and been swept for the series by an impressive 23-4 margin. Individual players have slumps, teams have problems. The Washington Nationals have a problem.
Part of the problem stems from having a $50 million payroll. We knew going into the season that whatever else the Nats were, they weren't deep. Carlos Baerga, once memorably described as playing the field like he was wearing a spare tire, has been better than anyone expected, batting .279 in 57 games and occasionally making a nice play at 3rd. But any team that hasn't had its opening day infield together in nearly 3 months is going to suffer. And asking this team to make up for Christian Guzman's incredible shrinking batting average is like asking them to tread water while towing an anvil. No Nats hitter has been completely healthy for the entire season, and when they rest, the offense suffers even more.
Nevertheless, I can't shake the feeling that there's more going on here than a scrappy team that overperformed in the first half, and doesn't have the resources to put together a stretch run. If this team had legitimate ownership, and someone at the top making personnel decisions, I think the Nats hitting coach would be on the hot seat. So, standing in for our as yet unidentified owners, let me be the first to say... Bring me the head of Tom McCraw.