Originally posted on The Nats Blog  |  Last updated 6/24/12

The Washington Nationals entered Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles looking to go 4-0 in rubber games this season. All the way into the eighth inning, the Nats looked to have it in the bag when a rare bullpen foul up cost the Nats the game. I’m not blaming this one on them, though.

Ross Detwiler did what he needed to in his first outing since returning to the starting rotation from the bullpen. He made it through five strong innings. Though he got into a jam in the last few innings of his outing, he didn’t give up a run on four hits. He brought his ERA down to 3.09, the highest of all current starters. The only thing to gather from that information is this starting rotation is outstanding.

Ultimately, Sean Burnett gave up the game-winning home run to Matt Weiters after walking Adam Jones to lead off the eighth inning. Burnett entered the game with a 1.07 ERA, and at some point, he had to give up another run. He had been historically good, and I have a lot of trouble placing any blame on him for this loss.

The Nats’ offense doesn’t get the same kind of pass, though. Against Jake Arrieta, who had a 5.83 ERA entering today’s action, the Nationals bats scored just one run on five hits, and the Nats got just one hit in the final three innings after his departure. Those are atrocious numbers from a team that still leads the NL East.

The 2-1 late-innings loss to the Orioles is among the most painful for the Nats this season. Most importantly, it further outlines the number one issue they face in order to keep winning: offensive production.

Some thoughts:

- The Nats offense has become a complete joke. In the last eight games, the Nats have scored more than four runs just once. Sure, they lit up the Blue Jays and Red Sox pitching staffs, but those staffs were in the bottom half of the AL when the Nats faced them. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed for the Nats to continue contending.

- Interleague play is mercifully over, but the Nats still finished with a 10-8 record because of their sweeps of the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Despite some frustrating losses in over the last nine games, the Nats did exactly what they were supposed to during this stretch. They finished above .500. 

- In seven of the next 13 games, the Nats will face a really bad Colorado Rockies team. Four of those seven games will be in hitter-friendly Coors Field. The Rockies are 16 games under .500 entering action today, and they have an NL-worst 5.34 team ERA. It will be up to the Nats offense to capitalize on the opportunity that will dictate their June success.

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