The woeful Washington Nationals are still searching for their first victory of the month. They hope to get it Friday and avoid their longest losing streak in more than six years when they open a three-game set with the Florida Marlins.
Owner of the worst record in the majors, Washington (9-25) has lost all eight games in May and hasn’t dropped nine straight overall since doing it to close the 2000 season, when the team was the Montreal Expos.
The Nationals closed a nine-game road trip Wednesday with a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee. They opened the trip on April 30 with a 3-2 win at San Diego, but proceeded to lose the following eight contests—including three-game sweeps to the Chicago Cubs and Brewers.
Washington now returns to RFK Stadium, where it has the worst home mark in baseball at 4-10.
“You have to stay positive and keep talking to the guys,” Nationals manager Manny Acta told the team’s official Web site. “I don’t know what people are looking for. We have to keep working, and we are gong to snap out of it.”
Washington has been outscored 37-18 during the eight-game slide with a .204 batting average.
Dmitri Young is 1-for-16 (.063) in that span to see his season average drop to .224. The veteran first baseman has hit .208 (5-for-24) against the Marlins this season.
If Shawn Hill (2-3, 3.00 ERA) is going to help the Nationals snap the skid, he’ll need more help from the offense. The right-hander has not received a run of support in two home starts this season—including a loss to Florida on April 3—and only got three in his last start on Sunday while holding Chicago to two runs in six innings of a 4-3, 10-inning defeat.
“I feel bad for those guys. They are going out there and pitching their tails off every day and we are not getting them any runs,” Nationals right fielder Austin Kearns said. “They are doing all that they can. When you are giving up one, two, three runs per night, that’s not going to get it done, as we have seen. They have been great; we haven’t.”
Hill is 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts against the Marlins (16-18) this season and will have a familiar counterpart Friday as Scott Olsen (3-2, 4.89) gets the start for Florida. It will be the third matchup of the season between the hurlers, with Olsen going 1-0 with a 6.10 ERA in the two previous meetings as each team won once.
The Marlins hold a 4-2 season series edge.
Olsen will try to get Florida’s 10-game road trip off to a positive start after losing for the first time in four outings Sunday despite a solid performance. The left-hander surrendered two runs—one earned—and four hits over 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 loss to San Diego.
“I knew the game’s over,” Willingham said. “I was going down to first base and watching the ball, and I wasn’t even thinking home run. Then I thought, ‘Go ahead and get out of the park.’”
It was just the fourth hit in 31 at-bats (.129) for Willingham, who is batting .400 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 12 career games at RFK.