Sunday, April 10, 2005

Wake Frank Up When It's Over

One word sums up that game: Ugh.

Actually, my neighbors would say "F#$&" was a more appropriate word based on what I was shouting at the TV.

Josh Beckett mowed through the Nats lineup; apparently he was in a hurry to get back to his pseudo-pornstar girlfriend. And, who could blame him?

He walked one; struck out eleven and threw just 110 pitches in doing it. (Have we made a pitcher work yet?)

No one did anything notably horrid, so it's hard to find a scapegoat. But, this is DC damnit. And there's always someone to blame.

Hey, Jose Vidro, it's your fault. Enjoy your Lame Duck award. Yeah, you had one hit, but it was a double when the score was already 41-0. Whooptifreakindoo. You came up in the first with a runner on, and flied out to left. And in the third, you came up with two runners on. Beckett was on the ropes (or at least as close as he was at any point in the game). One groundout later, and the threat was over.

In the Inning From Hell, you botched coverage on Juan Pierre's bunt too. In a situation that just screamed "BUNT HERE NOW", you inexplicably played for the double play, despite every one else on the infield playing for the bunt. Did you miss a sign? Was Frank napping when he should've given you the signs?

That's one of those plays that doesn't show up as an error anywhere, but one that clearly should have been an out. And no, it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference given the way Beckett was pitching, and the torch-a-riffic pitching of Antonio "La Antorcha" Osuna.

But, it's the kind of play that this team can't afford to make. We need to get the little things right if we stand any chance of winning. Managers of losing teams like to talk tough about doing the little things right, yet, when you watch their games, they're the ones screwing those kinds of plays up. Let's hope it's not a trend.

As far as big Frank, Jesus, what the hell was he doing? I don't think he realizes that you can change pitchers mid-inning, or that you can double switch. (I don't think he's made one yet, although I missed part of one of the games.)

Starting about the 5th inning, you could see that John Patterson (Who pitched great today, with an impressive, sharp, darting breaking pitch) was starting to get gassed. He was slowing down the pace of his delivery, and he stood on the mound, open-mouthed between pitches. He got through the sixth inning quickly, in part because Pierre and Luis Castillo slapped the first few pitches to the infielders. Then, in the seventh, the wheels fell off the wagon.

After allowing a lead-off single to Carlos Delgado, he got Mike Lowell and fell behind 3-0 to Juan Encarnacion. (He was behind all three batters, actually). After walking him, and putting two runners on, I figured we were due for a reliever. Frank never left the dugout. Patterson was due to hit second that inning, and Frank wanted to get him out of the inning so he wouldn't have to waste a reliever. Well, doubleswitch then! He could've brought Carlos Baerga or Jamey Carroll in for Castilla. He could've even brought Terrmel Sledge in for Ryan Church. He did neither.

I knew what would happen next. And it did. One two-run double later, and the game was over. I an understand wanting to get your guy a win. And wanting to get through the inning. But he was gassed! His body language showed it, and his lack of command proved it. Again, ultimately, it wouldn't matter with the way the hitters were flailing away, but that's not a good sign as the year goes along.

The other mysterious decision is him bringing in Osuna. He got torched the other day for 83 runs in 1/3 of an inning against the same team. Even opening day, when he escaped without a run, he was on the tightrope. He's been pretty craptastic. I have faith that he'll be a serviceable reliever when all is said and done, but the time for him to work on his stuff is not in a 2-run game. Bad choice, Frank.

Still, it's hard to be disappointed with where we are at this point. 3-3 after six games is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the Braves' pitching is a lot closer to Florida's than it is to the Phillies'.

We scored just three runs in three games -- all on solo home runs. We're going to need to show better patience, drawing more walks and not slapping so many first pitches right at the infielders. (Right Guzman?)

If we take 1 of the games, we'll come back to Washington 4-5, which is about the best anyone could've realistically hoped for. The individual losses are disappointing, but you've gotta look at the bigger picture: we're holding our own against the division rivals while on the road. And we're doing it without much offense and some pretty crappy relief pitching.

It's time to put on our Union uniforms and do what Sherman did to Atlanta!


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