about last night as a fan of Washington-area sports teams, if you were so inclined. The only thing missing was the girlfriend walking out, saying how like your truck, you are too old and broken down for her anymore.
As it was, the following was plenty enough:
- Despite one of Edwin Jackson’s best efforts on the mound all season, the Nationals were shut out 2-0 by the Bernie Madoff Mets.
- Edwin and the Nats were done in by the .219 hitting Ike Davis, who launched a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to supply all the runs the Madoff Mets would need. Sure, Davis has been playing better since the All-Star break, but still, a real kick in the teeth.
- The atrocious Mets bullpen, headlined by Frank Francisco, he of the 6.06! ERA and 1.78! WHIP, actually locked down Jonathon Nieses’s shutout. I guess that’s why they are the Amazin’ Mets!
- The Washington Redskins lost more than just the second game of the preseason to the Chicago Bears, also losing starting linebacker and pass rushing extraordinaire Brian Orakpo and starting safety Brandon Meriweather to injuries. This is when I pause for six hours to pray at my private Redskins good karma altar.
- And come to think of it, the Redskins defense looked like an old and broken down truck which Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall walked out and over on.
Game ball(s): Niese. Credit where credit is due. The Nationals had precious few opportunities to plate runs last night and when they did, Niese flipped on the dominant switch.
Goat(s): Whoever in the Redskins front office or on their coaching staff that thought Cedric Griffin could still cover. Brandon Marshall was probably having warm flashbacks to his final days in Denver, when he last had so much fun working someone over.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Jackson. I feel like I’ve said this a number of times about Edwin this season, but he deserved a better fate than for a L to be hung around his neck.
Current Record: 74-46
I had a cupcake today for lunch. On that thin, overly sugared basis, I’m playing nice and refraining yet again from posting my Chien-Ming Wang I told you so post. If it hadn’t been for the sprinkles on top, I would have been all over another poor start from Wang today (5 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, 1 HBP, and 2 ER in a 3-1 loss to the Mets…and he was lucky to only allow two runs given the putridness of the first 4 numbers in that line) and how the Nationals voluntarily elected to downgrade when they swapped Wang for Ross Detwiler. But there were sprinkles and they were chocolate.
On another note, to put a bow on yesterday’s post, I realized after reading this piece from Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs that I gave short shrift to Ian Desmond’s big game Tuesday night, which in one sense, was one for the history books.
Davey Johnson called it right last night when he said the Nationals 7-6 win over the Mets in 12 innings wasn’t a well-played game. My eyes admittedly drifted as the bullpen cost Jordan Zimmermann a win after another well-pitched game (fantasy curse!). But despite the optics, to both teams credit, they kept fighting back each time it looked like the game was in the bag for one of them. Much to the delight of Nats fans, it was Bryce Harper who struck the final blow of the back and forth struggle, with a walk-off single in the bottom of the twelfth.
Game ball(s): Harper. What is even more impressive than his first career walk-off hit is the kid’s dissatisfaction at going 2 for 7 and striking out twice. It reinforces what Mets catcher Josh Thole said about Harper when he said that Harper cares about the little things, like making outs via the strikeout. His God-given 5-tool talent is what gives Harper a shot at greatness. The fact that he cares about the little things is what will make him great.
Goat(s): I should probably get on the bullpen but I’m still trying to understand Davey’s quick hook (again) with Jordan. I know he got touched up some in the top of the sixth but up until then he was cruising and was only at 81 pitches when he was yanked. Sure, all 3 batters he was to face in the top of the seventh were lefties, but to needlessly call upon your relief staff because you are concerned Zimm can’t handle the trio of Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis (.160 BA!!!), and Josh Thole seems to show you lack confidence when you shouldn’t. And moves like that do have repercussions when a pen gets unnecessarily extended (see 8th inning).
Bryce Harper is still only 19: The very clutch Ian Desmond, who drove in the game-tying run in the 8th, 10th, and 12th innings.
Current Record: 31-22
That’s what Stephen Strasburg was this afternoon in shutting out the Atlanta Braves over seven innings, propelling the Nationals to a 2-0 win. Every pitch was bananas, leading to nine punch outs and zero walks, while allowing only four hits. When Stephen is on his game like he was today, it matters a heck of a lot less that the Nats didn’t do too much better against Brandon Beachy. Jesus Flores went deep in the bottom of the fifth and Xavier Nady doubled home another run for kicks and giggles in the seventh, accounting for all the offense Washington could muster and thankfully, all they would need to secure the victory.
Game ball(s): See, handing Gio the May MESPY was all a part of the strategy. You see how well Strasburg pitches when he is angry?
Goat(s): I’m going to veer off-course a bit here and say all of the critics of Terry Collins for allowing Johan Santana to throw 134 pitches in route to his no-hitter last night. I understand that Santana is coming off of major shoulder problems that cost him all of last season and if the Mets have any hope of continuing to battle for the NL East crown, they have to have Santana take the mound every fifth day. But I also don’t understand the obsession with treating pitchers with such kid gloves today. And for all the pitch counts, innings limits, boutique relievers, can anyone honestly say pitchers are staying healthier than 30-40 years ago? If the Mets want to try to give Johan an extra day before his next start, kudos to them. Probably the wise thing to do. But enough of everyone getting their shorts in a bunch over a manager allowing a pitcher to do what he is supposed to do, and in the course of making history to boot.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Flores. Great to have him back behind home plate because without him, Washington is truly staring into the abyss at the position.
Current Record: 30-21
Well, the last 20 hours or so have been good to the Nationals, as since the last time we put fingers to keyboard, Washington banked two nice wins over the Bernie Madoff Mets, taking the series 2-1. I was too tired after last night’s 6-2 victory to post a recap and work kept* me from watching this afternoon’s matinee. So let’s go straight to the awards section for both games:
Game Ball(s): Stephen Strasburg and Ross Detwiler, who delivered 6 and 5 shutout innings, respectively. You can nick pick the lengths of the starts, but the Nationals will be in a position to win a lot of games this season if they can get more performances like this.
Goat(s): The Mets bats, who without David Wright in the lineup, appeared lost and lifeless. Huh, a bit like the Mets finances. Huh.
Bryce Harper is not as far off: Ian Desmond, who went 4-9 with 2 runs scored and solo home run over the 2 games, probably deserves a shout-out. So here you go. But with the potential loss of Drew Storen for a long stretch, what bears a lot of scrutiny is the development of Henry Rodriguez. I don’t know if Davey Johnson will go with him over Brad Lidge as the Nats closer, but there is no denying H-Rod has a lot of talent. His fastball touches triple-digits and his change-up comes in at 91. His change-up. But whether his pitches will cross the plate is about as predictable as what will come out of Ozzie Guillen’s mouth next, so a clean 2k, no walk 9th inning was nice to see in the box score today.
Current Record: 4-2
*By kept I actually mean ever so graciously took away my desire to watch
Then maybe I could have loaned her to the Nationals tonight to help them drive more of their 11 base runners in against Pelfrey. Boy, that preseason crack didn’t take but a week to come back to haunt me.
What makes tonight’s 4-3 loss to the Mets in the bottom of the ninth hurt the worst is that the Nationals had their chances. While somehow they managed 8 strikeouts against Pelfrey, which tied his career high, they also put 11 runners on base against him in just 5 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, they left 9 ducks on the pond for the game, with the once-again struggling Jayson Werth stranding 4 all by himself. I won’t even wait to the call-out section. I will do it now. Werth was a goat tonight.
Game ball(s): The Mets bullpen. 3 1/3 innings of shut-out ball in relief of Pelfrey allowed the Mets to finally make their move in the bottom of the ninth.
Goat(s): Henry Rodriguez. A walk, a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, and then a hit allowed gave the game to the Mets.
Bryce Harper is not as far off: Another nice night from LaRoche, who brought not only his bat, but his glove, making several nice picks at 1st.
Current Record: 2-2
My apologies for the dust that has been collecting around here this week. Things have been on the crazy side, so much so that if I had written about the Nationals on either Thursday or Friday, I would have been able to stick with my original title: No Runs For You. Fortunately, the Nationals ran into the Orioles pitching staff last night.
After being shut out both games by the Bernie Madoff Mets, the reeling Nationals offense found Lance Armstrong life last night, putting up two touchdowns and a field goal on the Orioles. Sure, Jason Marquis was far from sharp in his four innings. But once again the Nationals bullpen was strong, and well quite frankly, pitching hasn’t been the problem with the Nationals this season. It has been their offense, and more aptly, the lack of one. So the 17 run outburst was a welcome sight, even if Adam LaRoche managed somehow to artfully post another 0-fer.
Game ball(s): When you put up 17, it is hard to choose just one player. But two home runs and four driven in will clinch it for Werth.
Goat(s): The Orioles pitching staff. Giving up 17 runs to the Nationals these days is like getting lapped in the pool by the fat kid. Oh excuse me, the food secure kid.
Bryce Harper is a long ways off: How could I not give a shout out to the latest Nationals fan, my new pup, Cooley : )
Current Record: 21-23