"It's baseball -- it's up and down," said second baseman Marlon Anderson. "You're never as bad as your good days, and never as good as our best days. Right now, we're just in a funk."
Anderson had one of his best days as a Major Leaguer after going 3-for-3 with a walk against Toronto ace Roy Halladay (10-2). Anderson had his third career multi-homer game with two solo shots of over 400 feet each.
"I definitely wasn't looking to hit home runs off this guy," Anderson said. "He's been tough his whole career, and I actually haven't had that much success off him [1-for-8 entering Thursday]."
Anderson added an RBI double in the seventh, which came on the heels of a pair of two-baggers from right fielder Daryle Ward and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. It was an offensive rally that has been rare of late for Washington (33-47). The team has scored only 29 runs in its last nine games.
The pitching has not been much better -- a 5.62 ERA over the nine-game stretch -- and further problems may lie ahead if Patterson (1-2) is once again injured. The right-hander left the game with arm fatigue after throwing two pitches in the fourth inning.
"I felt it a bit during warmup, and as the game went along, it got worse and worse," Patterson said. "I started losing my release points, and my arm just felt dead."
It was clear that Patterson's performance was affected by his health problems. He allowed five runs on six hits in his three-plus innings against the Blue Jays (44-34), with the big hit being a two-run triple from Toronto designated hitter Eric Hinske in the third.
The start was Patterson's second since a 57-day stint on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, but the right-hander said his problem had no relation to his earlier injury.
"It just feels like Spring Training dead arm," he said. "You can't really figure out when it's going to show up, but it usually comes and goes pretty fast. We'll see how I feel tomorrow, but I plan on making my next start."
The intent behind Patterson's extended stay on the DL was so that when the pitcher returned to action, he would be in midseason form, and wouldn't have to ease himself back into the habit of amassing long outings. The fact that he is still not 100 percent after nearly two months on the disabled list has Washington manager Frank Robinson worried.
"It's frustrating and disappointing that he's not healthy," Robinson said. "The concern for me right now is the possibility of losing him again, and maybe for a long period of time.
"I know if John could go out there, he would be out there," he added. "The ones that have been around John know when he is healthy, he is one of the better pitchers in baseball."
The Nationals head back to RFK Stadium for a 10-game homestand against the Devil Rays, Marlins and Padres before the All-Star break. The prevailing attitude among the players is that they want to put the road trip behind them and concentrate on getting some momentum for the second half of the season.
"No sense in dwelling on the negative," Robinson said. "Tomorrow you show up and hope you can get on a streak yourself. If you think about this stuff, that'll make it tough trying to get yourself going."