Costly error, cold bats doom Nats
Zimmerman hits solo shot in loss to host Indians
CLEVELAND -- The Nationals wore replica jerseys of the 1924 Washington Senators against the Indians on Saturday night. That year, the Senators were the champions, defeating the New York Giants in the World Series.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
However, the Nationals played like -- well -- the Nationals of last year, as they lost to the Indians, 7-1, at Progressive Field.
It felt like the Nationals never competed in the game because right-hander Fausto Carmona dominated, completing his second game of the season and allowing just the one run on three hits.
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was the only one who did any damage against the right-hander, hitting a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
"It was the best-pitched game we've had this year," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was flat-out dominant. Just a terrific performance."
Nationals skipper Jim Riggleman called Carmona's performance the best pitched game against the Nationals this season.
"We've played 63 ballgames," Riggleman said. "I don't want to show any disrespect to anybody else. I don't know if anyone has pitched a better game against us this year. Nothing comes to mind, really. Roy Halladay has pitched well against us. Mike Pelfrey pitched some good games against us, but off the top of my head, that seems that's about as good as anybody has thrown against us.
"It became pretty obvious that we just couldn't get the ball airborne. Carmona was getting the ground balls and strikeouts. We knew it was going to be tough at this point."
Washington found itself behind in the first inning with right-hander J.D. Martin on the mound. With a runner on first, Carlos Santana hit a routine ground ball to second baseman Adam Kennedy, who tried to turn the double play, but his throw to second was wide, and that put runners on first and third with one out.
The error by Kennedy ended up costing the Nationals, for Travis Hafner hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Shin-Soo Choo. Riggleman felt Kennedy should have gone for the sure out at first instead of going for the double play.
"He is trying to help the ballclub," Riggleman said. "He tried to go to second and his throw was a little wide. It's just not going well for him. I don't know what else to say."
For Kennedy, it was his fourth error in his last five starts. Kennedy said he needs to play often in order to get out of his defensive slump. Kennedy finds himself on the bench because Cristian Guzman has been consistent with the bat.
"It's just like hitting," Kennedy said. "When you are not out there, you don't get into a good groove. I'm not good enough to just come off the bench and play solid defense. It's how it's been for me. I'm going to somehow figure out a way [to get out of the slump]. The staff has been great by giving me extra grounders and trying to keep me ready."
Riggleman said that Kennedy works hard before games. He works on his defense more than he does with his hitting.
"I just feel terrible for Adam because I know how hard he works," Riggleman said. "We come out here for early hitting, but he comes in and does more defensive work than he does hitting. I really appreciate it. He's out there with Ian Desmond early."
Santana did his thing with the bat, getting two hits and knocking in three runs against right-hander J. D. Martin, who pitched 7 2/3 innings, but he gave up all seven runs, six of which were earned.
Santana highlighted a four-run inning by hitting a two-run double. In the fifth inning, he hit a solo home run.
I want to put this behind me and go and get ready for my next outing," Martin said. "I just didn't make the adjustment quick enough. I was throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs and they were jumping on it."
The Nationals will try to salvage the three-game series on Sunday as Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for Washington. But Riggleman sounded like a man who wasn't sure if his ace could beat the Indians.
"The Indians are really swinging the bats," Riggleman said. "This is going to be a tough challenge for him tomorrow. They have a little momentum going. Their lineup is flowing. They have some professional hitters over there. I'm just hoping we play well. Of course, you want your guy to have a nice outing, but you have to get their guy, too."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.