While the Washington Nationals said a recent argument between manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo was nothing more than “business as usual,” there’s no denying that the team is struggling.
Looking to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss, the Nationals finish a two-game set with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.
Before suffering a 9-0 defeat to Miami on Tuesday, Washington’s front office tried to diffuse talk about a heated argument between Johnson and Rizzo.
Johnson was heard shouting at Rizzo in the clubhouse Sunday after the Nationals (77-51) were swept by Philadelphia.
“Davey and I talk after every game,” Rizzo said. “We talk about the goods and the bads of each and every game, and this was just probably I was a little too emotional. We’re both pretty passionate, and I was a little frustrated. I probably could have tabled it until the next morning, but I didn’t.”
Washington’s struggles may not be solved as easily as the spat. The club has been outscored 26-6 during its skid, with the latest loss coming with ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound.
Strasburg, who is facing a controversial shutdown before a possible playoff berth, allowed a career-high seven runs - five earned - and nine hits over five innings to take the loss Tuesday.
Even the returns of Ian Desmond and Michael Morse couldn’t help Washington. Both of those players went hitless and the Nationals mustered five total hits off Florida starter Ricky Nolasco, who earned the shutout while striking out six.
The Nationals, who still lead own a healthy lead atop the NL East, are hitting .212 during their losing streak, which matches their longest of the season. They haven’t dropped six in a row since Aug. 23-28, 2011.
“We’ve played really good 90 percent of the year,” Johnson said. “We’re in a rough spot here. That makes the metal hotter. The tougher it gets, the stronger you get, so we’ll be fine.”
As Washington tries to snap its skid Wednesday, Miami (59-71) will be looking to win three straight for the first time since July 4-6.
The Marlins will try to finally push a run across against Ross Detwiler (7-6, 3.25 ERA), who takes the mound Wednesday for the Nationals.
Detwiler hasn’t allowed a run in 12 career innings against Miami, including a six-inning start April 20. He limited the Marlins to three hits and struck out seven in that outing while earning a 2-0 victory.
The left-hander has dropped two of his last three starts overall. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss to Atlanta last Wednesday.
Miami counters with Jacob Turner (0-1, 4.50), who was modestly effective in a losing cause in his first start with the Marlins last Wednesday, allowing three runs and four hits over six innings of a 3-2 defeat at Arizona.
“He was relaxed on the mound, very nice and loose,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of Turner, whom the Marlins acquired in the trade that sent Anibal Sanchez to Detroit. “He was throwing a lot of strikes. He made one bad pitch but I like what I see.”
The Marlins are 6-2 at home against the Nationals this year.