Well, I guess you can scratch Nats’ team psychologist from my possible future careers list. Back to the beans counting man! Despite my early morning wishful thinking, the Nationals didn’t muster an offensive breakout in their 2-1 loss to the Orioles earlier today. Now the question becomes what happens the next two games in the thin air of Colorado when an immovable object (Washington’s offense) meets an unstoppable force (Coors Field, which has yielded the most runs in baseball).
Game ball(s): Matt Wieters. Color me surprised to learn Wieters was born in Goose Creek, South Carolina. His name just sounds so German, so hardworking. Was auch immer! Unfortunately, Wieters was quite industrious today, hitting the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth and then gunning down Ian Desmond attempting to steal second in the top of the ninth to end the game.
Goat(s): The truth. As noted by weezie in the comments section, it really isn’t shocking that the truth is quite slippery in DC. Now suddenly, after receiving a cortisone shot, Ryan Zimmerman is back to feeling great, a day after he was going to have to shut it down for two weeks. Tomorrow is certain to bring news that Zimm’s shoulder has fallen off and the team’s strategy to move Wang to the bullpen to preserve his shoulder for a transplant has paid off.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Ross Detwiler. It is just so nice to know that the team is back to not giving away every fifth game. Happy emoticon!
Current Record: 41-29
I guess Edwin Jackson caught wind of my post yesterday morning and just plain decided that he didn’t want any part of a plagiarist’s future book. Okay, probably not. But he was on his game last night, leading the Nationals to a 3-1 victory over the Orioles. Interesting tidbit I picked up reading various articles this morning: Three months into the season and Washington has yet to post a double-digit scoring effort. I imagine that’s why a 3-1 winning line score seems so familiar. Later today, Ross Detwiler will take the mound in an effort to take the weekend series. With Jake Arrieta and his 5.83 ERA taking the mound for the Orioles, perhaps we will see an end to that streak today???
Game ball(s): Jackson, Mike Gonzalez, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Clippard. The Nats are 3 1/2 games up in the NL East almost exclusively as a result of their brilliant pitching staff. Imagine if the team ever starts hitting? Cue John Lennon.
Goat(s): Jim Riggleman. One year ago yesterday, Riggleman abruptly resigned in the midst of a contract squabble with the team. I wonder if Jim is finding that he is able to stretch his dollars better with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos?
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Well, this is certainly interesting: Tyler Clippard to remain closer even when Drew Storen returns. It has been quite the changing narrative surrounding Clippard’s usage this season, starting with the team not wanting to pull him from his setup role when Storen went down during Spring Training to now not wanting to pull him as closer when Drew returns. Parsing Davey Johnson’s words though, he was careful to leave the door open for a swap, if Clippard were to slip up and Storen were to flash dominance in a setup role. For now, I can’t argue that isn’t the correct course of action. Drew is the Nationals’ long-term closer, but coming off of a bum elbow, there is no sense in rushing him back into ninth inning duties before he finds his groove, especially when Clippard has been outstanding himself.
Current Record: 41-28
In the titanic struggle for the title of Nationals’ most unlucky pitcher, a dominant outing from Orioles’ starter Jason Hammel buoyed by timely slick defense and another woeful offensive performance vaulted Jordan Zimmermann back into the lead over his rival Edwin Jackson last night. If the rest of the season plays out in this fashion, I’m wouldn’t be half surprised if Doris Kearns Goodwin writes about this modern-day incarnation of a team of rivals. Put a stove top hat on Strasburg and he is the spittin’ image of Lincoln. And best of all, Doris could, ahem, borrow without attribution, all of this! Anywho, on to the awards for last night’s 3-1 loss:
Game ball(s): Hammel. He has been the O’s Robin to Adam Jones, their Batman. It’s a shame that Sidney Ponson doesn’t pitch for them anymore. Then they would have the Penguin too.
Goat(s): Ryan Zimmerman. While I’d like to think he just screws Jordan over because his momma wouldn’t give him the extra n, we may be at the point where parking him for a few weeks to get healthy is the only thing that is going to ignite his anemic bat.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Ryan Mattheus. It has been good to see him back in form off of the DL, making his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance last night. The bullpen is getting healthy. Let’s hope the rest of the Baltimore series we see the arms in action with a lead.
Current Record: 40-28
On a night where both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles were struggling to score much in the way of runs in their interleague opener, you could just sense that it was going to be just one hit, one moment that would decide the game’s outcome. And while my naturally defeatist senses were correct that the turn would not be in the National’s favor, it was ever so slightly off in its count. There were two game-deciding moments which came back to back.
In the top of the eleventh, with Ryan Mattheus facing Nick Markakis, on a 1-2 count, it looked like Mattheus punched out Markakis on a nice fastball. Regrettably, the umpire didn’t see it the same way and without fail, on the next pitch, Nick the Stick launched a solo home run to propel the Orioles to a 2-1 lead. With the Nationals offense, Game Over.
Game ball(s): Markakis. He’s half-Greek and half-German and unfortunately for the Nats, the German in him showed up last night.
Goat(s): The Nationals in the bottom of the eleventh. Get a man on to start the inning and promptly ground into a double play. Get lucky with Bernadina reaching on a wild-pitch after striking out, follow it up with a hit to put him in scoring position, only to ground out to end the game. What a frustrating end to a frustrating night at the dish for Washington.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Edwin Jackson, who deserved better than another no-decision. While I fully support a gridlocked Washington, I guess I should clarify that I don’t want the federal government making anymore disastrous decisions, not the Nationals.
Current Record: 23-16
After going 1 for 8 in the first two games of the Orioles series, Matt Stairs has managed to up his average to a cool .100. Sadly, I think that says more about the Nationals than it does about a 43-year old who should be happy to merely not throw his back out swinging at a 92 mph fastball, let alone make a productive career of it.
Hitting fifth and serving as the Nationals DH for the second consecutive game, it is painfully obvious the Nationals need to move on. It is not so much about today’s 8-3 loss to the Orioles, which was fueled primarily by the hitability of starter John Lannan. However, for one of the youngest teams in baseball starving for offense, carrying a veteran of Stairs ilk is a luxury the team cannot afford if it wants to make a run at .500.
Perhaps Stairs can still be a decent bat off the bench for a contender. Color me skeptical even of that. But as the Nationals return to health, and Zimm, Ankiel, and crew return, the time has come at last.
Game ball(s): I guess if I have to choose I’ll take Desmond’s largely empty 2-4 day. Then again, given his putrid BA and the stench it has left on my fantasy team, I will take it.
Goat(s): John Lannan. 6 innings, 10 base runners, 6 earned runs. The wheels have come off the soft-tosser with his ERA climbing above 5 and his whip sitting at an ugly 1.62.
Bryce Harper is a long ways off: I stretched the game ball. I’m not Gumby though.
Current Record: 21-24
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