Bullpen roughed up in Nationals loss to Giants

Bullpen roughed up in Nationals loss to Giants
June 12, 2014, 6:45 pm
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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Considering they had already taken the first three games of a road series against a Giants club that had been baseball's hottest team only a few days ago, anything the Nationals did today at AT&T Park would have been the cherry atop a very large, gooey sundae. So it's tough to find too much fault with a lopsided loss in San Francisco, even though a four-game sweep sure would've been nice.

Ultimately, the Nationals were done in by a longtime nemesis: Tim Hudson, who tossed seven innings of 1-run ball to lower his NL-best ERA to 1.91. The veteran right-hander didn't give the Nats many chances at the plate, and he made a couple of big pitches when he needed to escape what few jams he faced. Blake Treinen tried to match his more-accomplished counterpart but was pulled after allowing two runs over five innings and thus was denied yet another chance to earn his first career win.

The game got out of hand late, with the Giants piling on against a Nationals bullpen that had been lights-out for so long. But at the end of the day, the Nats leave town having taken 3 of 4 from the NL West leaders and having taken 5 of 7 overall on the California swing of their 10-game road trip. They now wrap things up with a big, 3-game series against the Cardinals, hoping to make it through the weekend still all alone in first place in the NL East.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: There's no shame in being shut down by Tim Hudson, who has dominated this franchise like few others have over the years. But the Nationals did have an opportunity to make this a very interesting game in the top of the fifth. Trailing 2-1, they got back-to-back singles from Kevin Frandsen and Jose Lobaton, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. To the plate stepped Treinen, who was asked to drop a sacrifice bunt and put both men in scoring position. The rookie pitcher, though, couldn't get it done, striking out. That left it up to Denard Span, who sent a bouncer up the middle that would have at minimum brought home one run had the situation been different. But with Lobaton still on first base instead of second base, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford was able to step on second and fire to first for a killer double play.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Treinen was perfectly fine in his fourth career start and gave his team a chance to win. But we did see a few examples why the rookie still isn't a sure thing to make it long-term as a big-league starter. Treinen's sinker is an above-average big-league pitch, and he can call upon it when he needs to get out of a jam with a groundball (which he did on several occasions today). But the only chance he has at making it through an opposing lineup three or four times and pitching deeper into games is to develop enough confidence in his secondary pitches (slider, changeup) to be able to throw them in big spots. With only 79 pitches thrown through five innings today, Treinen easily could've stayed in the game. Matt Williams, though, decided not to take the chance, perhaps sensing the rookie's stuff wouldn't play as well the longer he stayed out there.

KEY STAT: Tim Hudson is now 17-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 30 career starts against the Nationals franchise.

UP NEXT: After spending the last week in California, the Nationals begin the long trip back home ... with a weekend stop halfway between the two coasts. Jordan Zimmermann faces Lance Lynn at8:15 p.m. EDT Friday in the series opener in St. Louis.

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