There are some things in baseball that make perfect sense. Cliff Lee for example owns a 2.87 ERA for his career against the Washington Nationals. That makes perfect sense. Cliff Lee is very good. He has a career 3.54 ERA and a 2.91 ERA as a Phillie. So, it makes perfect sense that the Nats struggle against him. Dillon Gee isn’t Cliff Lee. He has a career 3.94 ERA, and after 7 2/3 innings of two run ball against the Nats now has a 2.80 ERA against them. That is right Dillon Gee has pitched better against the Nats than Cliff Lee. I doubt anyone could find a single person on the planet that would take Dillon Gee over Cliff Lee on a real life or fantasy team.
This is baseball. It doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t have to make sense. It is entropy. It verges towards chaos and yet enough of it makes sense that we expect all of it to make sense. The Nats averaging 4.92 runs a game in August and Jayson Werth hitting over .400 for the month came into this game red hot, and couldn’t get it done. Werth went 0-4 and the Nats scored two runs, both on solo homers from the seven and nine spots in the order.
That is how this game went for the Nationals. Wilson Ramos put the team on the board early with a solo homer in the third inning and Jordan Zimmermann immediately gave it away to an Ike Davis two run homer. The Mets had the lead-off batter reach base in four of the eight innings that Jordan Zimmermann pitched. It wasn’t his best performance, but it wasn’t his worst. He pitched well enough to win, but didn’t because Dillon Gee pitched better as Dillon Gee always does against the Nationals.
The top six hitters in the Nationals line-up had three hits and two of them were from Ryan Zimmerman. A team isn’t going to win many games with their six alleged best hitters going a combined 3-18. It is hard to explain how Dillon Gee does this to the Nats, what spell he puts them under. He just does. It doesn’t make sense, but a lot in baseball doesn’t make sense.
Let’s put this in a different perspective. The Nats were not going to go 20-0 vs. the Mets, Marlins, and Phillies to finish the season. They were bound to lose a couple of those games, and losing the first game of the series still means they can win the series, and that should be the focus. Slow and steady has always been the way to get back in the race. It might be too late, but surrendering and not putting themselves in a position to catch anyone that falls is worse than fighting to the very end, and the way to do that is a slow and steady march of series wins. Winning this series and everyone in September gives the Nats 87 wins. That won’t be enough if the Reds don’t fade, but it definitely won’t be enough if the Nats don’t get there at all.