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Michael Morse's solo homer last night accounted for the Nationals' entire offense.
This, of course, was nothing new. The Nats have been held to one run or fewer five times in 29 games this season. And over their last 13 games, they've averaged a whopping 2.7 runs and 6.8 hits. For the season, they're now hitting a robust .225.
Now, last night's performance certainly had something to do with Hamels. The lefty was simply electric, going the distance and barely breaking a sweat doing it.
"When you have a guy that threw nine innings and threw a lot of strikes and located the baseball the way he wants it, it's tough," Ivan Rodriguez said afterward. "You've got to give credit to the pitcher. Credit goes to him today. He threw the ball in, mixed in off-speed, kept us off-balance all night long."
Perhaps no one inside the Nationals' clubhouse was more complimentary toward Hamels than his former teammate.
"That was the first time I've ever seen Cole," Werth said. "He located well. He pitched good. Being the first time I've faced him, I was impressed. He's got good stuff. I figured he would."
So perhaps there was no lineup the Nationals could have fielded last night that would have beaten Hamels. But it sure would have been nice to see if things might have looked different had they not trotted out a starting nine with not a single player boasting an average over .235.
Trouble is, what's the alternative? Sure, Wilson Ramos (hitting .351) can play more, though he's already supplanted Rodriguez as the starting catcher at least two out of every three games. And perhaps Laynce Nix (team-leading 1.022 OPS) can force his way in a bit more, though you also wonder if this is the type of guy whose numbers would tail off considerably the more playing time he gets.
No, the only realistic way the Nationals are going to start producing more at the plate is if the guys they were counting on all along to produce start, well, producing.
Werth is hitting .226 with seven RBI and a .728 OPS that is 157 points below his average over the last four seasons with the Phillies.
Adam LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter (.208 average and .688 OPS in April for his career, .281 average and .848 OPS after that). But his numbers so far (.181 average, .591 OPS) are even worse than usual.
The Nationals, plain and simple, need those two guys to start hitting. They'd love to get Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond on track, as well. And perhaps they could maximize their production in left field by platooning Nix and Morse.
But there are only so many changes Jim Riggleman can make. With Ryan Zimmerman on the shelf for at least six more weeks, the onus is on the Nats' two big offseason acquisitions to produce.
Not to produce beyond what they've ever done before. Simply to produce the way they always have in the past.