Nationals’ defensive miscues plague them in loss to Rockies
Second baseman Howie Kendrick misplayed a popup for an error in the first inning that led to a run.
Right fielder Bryce Harper had trouble picking up the ball in the corner that helped lead to another run in the second. And third baseman Anthony Rendon just missed a hard shot base hit that didn’t lead to any runs but made pitcher Gio Gonzalez labor through the fifth inning.
The Nationals, in an outing that could be best described as listless, had several defensive goofs and just four hits in a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night at Nationals Park.
Rockies leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu had two homers, two doubles and a career-high four RBIs. It could have been worse for Washington as Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who hit .331 last year, was out of the lineup with right quad tightness.
More troubling for the home fans: The Nationals (6-7) are now 2-5 at home this season and are five games back of the red-hot New York Mets, who have won 10 of their first 11 games. Washington begins a series on the road Monday at the Mets, who swept the Nationals last weekend in three games.
The trouble before many fans found their seats Thursday as LeMahieu hit the third pitch of the game for a solo homer off lefty Gonzalez for a 1-0 lead. Another run scored on the Kendrick error as he missed a popup hit by Ian Desmond, the former Washington shortstop.
Colorado made it 3-0 in the second when LeMahieu doubled past Harper in right. That scored Gerardo Parra, who reached on an infield single.
Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis (2-0) had allowed just one hit before Kendrick blasted a solo homer over the head of Rockies center fielder Ian Desmond in the fifth to trim the lead to 3-1. Kendrick, one of the few offensive bright spots so far, has a hit in 10 straight games.
Gonzalez went just five innings and allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. He threw 106 pitches and was hurt by some shoddy defense.
He was replaced by lefty Matt Grace, who gave up a two-run homer to LeMahieu in the sixth. Trevor Gott came out of the Washington bullpen for the top of the seventh for his first outing in eight days.
Desmond, who played shortstop for the Nationals from 2009 to 2015, got a nice ovation when he came to bat in the top of the first.
Bettis was taken out after allowing just three hits and the one run in seven innings, fanning five with two strikeouts.
Looking for a left fielder
Adam Eaton went on the disabled list Wednesday and Brian Goodwin made the start in left later that day. On Thursday, it was Matt Adams who made his first start of the year in left for the Nationals. Adams had one hit in three at bats.
The Nationals’ Matt Wieters, who came off the disabled list Wednesday, started at catcher. He was 0-for-2 with a walk.
What might have been
Bud Black, a former Major League pitcher, is the Rockies’ manager.
Black was a candidate for the Nationals’ managerial spot prior to the 2016 season. But he was not happy with the contract offer, according to published reports, and the job went to Dusty Baker.
Baker was fired after last season, following two division titles in two years with the Nationals.
Black was a teammate with current Washington skipper Dave Martinez in 1993 with the San Francisco Giants, whose manager at the time was Baker.