Struggling at the plate in the clutch has been perhaps the Washington Nationals’ biggest problem during a five-game losing streak. A matchup with Scott Olsen may help them solve their problems with runners in scoring position.
Following a day off, the Nationals look to extend Olsen’s run of tough outings when they face the Florida Marlins in the middle game of a three-game set Wednesday night.
Washington (3-5) is slumping after winning its first three games, when it left a total of 17 men on base. The Nationals have stranded at least 11 runners in three of five games during their losing streak.
In this series’ opener, Washington left 11 on base in a 10-7 loss to Florida (4-3) on Monday night. The Nationals left the bases loaded twice, something the team has now done a total of nine times in eight games.
“I can’t grab a bat myself,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “I’m looking forward to all our hits with the bases loaded that we’re not getting. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Nationals were able to score seven runs for the second time this season, but they managed just one in the last five innings.
“We’re just not getting it done right now,” said Washington right fielder Austin Kearns, part of a 1-for-11 night with five strikeouts for the Nationals’ 3-4-5 hitters.
Not many teams had trouble scoring runs against Olsen (0-0, 6.00 ERA) last season, and the left-hander’s first start of 2008 wasn’t very promising. He surrendered four runs and seven hits in six innings of Florida’s 5-4 win over Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Olsen is 2-8 with a 7.22 ERA and a .351 opponents’ batting average in his last 13 starts. He went 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in five starts versus the Nationals last season, and is 3-3 with a 4.36 ERA in eight career starts against them.
Olsen has regressed substantially since 2006, when he went 12-10 with a 4.04 ERA in his first full season. On Wednesday, he will be trying to turn in a strong start for a Marlins team that has allowed 16 runs in its last two games.
“If we can win the series … that would make us looser on Thursday, hoping for the sweep,” Olsen told Florida’s official Web site.
The Marlins got Olsen off the hook by scoring five runs against the Pirates. They’re coming off their best game at the plate, going 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
Florida’s lineup will be even stronger Wednesday, with right fielder Jeremy Hermida coming off the 15-day disabled list Monday night. Hermida, who hit .296 with 18 home runs and 63 RBIs last season, had been sidelined by a strained left hamstring.
Hermida is batting .343 (12-for-35) with two home runs and three doubles against Washington.
Florida will be facing Jason Bergmann (0-0, 8.44 ERA), who struggled in his first start, allowing five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings as Washington lost 8-7 on Thursday.
The right-hander went 1-0 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts versus the Marlins last season, and is 1-0 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts and eight relief appearances all-time against them.