After tough loss, Nats aren’t concerned about morale

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

This weekend’s series against the Dodgers was supposed to represent a fresh start, a time for the Nationals to turn the corner on their disappointing first half and go on a run after the All-Star break.

But after Rafael Soriano gave up a solo home run in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss Friday night, the Nationals suffered another crushing defeat on Saturday night. They collected 10 hits but only scored one run, going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and squandering six scoreless innings by Gio Gonzalez.

“I’m sure everyone’s sick of hearing it, but it’s got to turn around at some point,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “And if it doesn’t, then we’re going to keep on trying until we run out of time.”

As the Nationals continue to tread water around the .500 mark, questions have surfaced about the team’s morale. But Desmond, for one, isn’t worried.

“I think we’re doing fine,” he said. “I don’t think you could do any better than what we’re doing. I think a lot of teams under the situation that we’re in would probably be a little bit more distressed inside the clubhouse than what we’ve been. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, and I think that will pay off in the end.”

Manager Davey Johnson offered a different view.

“The only thing that helps morale is when you do the things you’re capable of doing,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to be happy if you’re not doing what you’re capable of doing. I mean, loud music and jumping up and down [won't help] … the only cure for it is to go out and express that talent. Make it happen.”

The Nationals are a young team, with eight of their 25 players under the age of 25. But with Desmond, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and others, they also have a significant veteran presence.

“I think this is a clubhouse put together on gamers, and gamers don’t just throw the towel in,” Desmond said. “I don’t think there’s a guy in here that’s ready to surrender the season or do anything like that. We’ve got some winners, we’ve got some grinders, and we’ve got some really good ball players. It’s just a matter of time.”

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