Thursday, May 11, 2006

Strikeout Machine!!!

What an ugly, ugly, ugly game. If you don't have MASN, or haven't figured out how to jigger mlb.tv to get around the blackout rules (not that anyone does this *cough*), you're one of the lucky ones. If it could be done poorly, it was. It was like watching a three year-old's teeball game, but one played by millionaires.

1) Bad pitching:
Livan Hernandez continued to stink up the park, erasing the Nats two-run lead after a few pitches and giving up five runs in 5.1 IP.

Jason Bergmann wasn't sharp, giving up a run on a double and a single (and throwing in a walk for good measure)

Mike Stanton took the loss by gacking away the game in the 8th inning. He faced two lefties in the inning and walked one and gave up a crushing 2-run double to the other. Three walks and two hits ain't gonna get the job done.

2) Bad situational hitting:
Top of the 6th, Nats down 1 and Nick Johnson doubled. A flyball to right moved him to third with just one out. Ryan Zimmerman couldn't get the bat on the ball and flailed at strike three. The Nats NEVER get the runner home from third with less than two outs. NEVER. Brian Schneider K'd to end the inning for good measure.

Top 7, same score and Marlon Anderson led off with a pinch-hit single (only his third of the year). Damian Jackson was sent up to bunt and popped it up, fouling out to the catcher. Jackson's a veteran who was put on the roster to do these little things. All he's done so far is make errors and not hit. (When he's not getting caught stealing: 0-2) After Byrd walked, Jose Vidro came up and flied out to deep right and Alfonso Soriano K'd to end the inning. Soriano and Vidro are our big guys; they need to come through in that situation.

3) Poor defense:
Brian Schneider allowed six (6!?) stolen bases. Something's not right with him -- this can't all be on the pitchers. He also made an error.

Alfonso Soriano was an adventure in left, misplaying a ball, which ultimately didn't cost much. He still looks terrible on liners, especially when they're over his head. In the 7th inning, Brandon Phillips hit a shot towards him. As he ran back, he jumped towards the ball with a one-foot take off, spreading his limbs as high and far as they'd go in opposing directions as if he were doing some sort of bizarre interpretive dance.

On the game-losing double, Marlon Byrd was playing extremely shallow, perhaps to cut down a run at the plate. The double went far over his head, but would've been easily catchable had he been at his normal position. (That one's on the coaching staff, and not him)

4) Curious Managing
The Nats have two (exactly two) pitchers throwing well, and who they should have any confidence in: Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch. Why, then, did they combine to face one batter?

The idea that Mike Stanton is a major league setup guy when he's five years past his sell-by date is preposterous. Perhaps if Frank hadn't overworked Gary Majewski (by pitching him in many meaningless games) to the point where he has tendinitis, he'd have been available to pitch in last night's game.

Why was Damian Jackson bunting in a situation where the team was down 1 in the 7th inning? It's a road game. You don't play for the tie in the 9th inning, let alone in the 7th, especially when you're playing the National League's best offense in its best non-Coors offensive park? What the hell were you thinking, Frank? (And that's not even taking the toastariffic bullpen into account!)

Why did Frank intentionally walk Chris Denorfia in the 8th inning? Have you ever heard of Chris Denorfia? Why show him the respect? He's a kid! It's a pressure situation! Make him beat you. Don't make the veterans beat you. (And as always with this team, the intentional walk came around to score!)

Why does Livan get such a long leash when no other pitcher gets it?

  • A frustrating game, for sure. As bad as Livan and Stanton pitched, though, the Lame Duck goes to Alfonso Soriano for his dreadful 0-5 performance, complete with 4 Ks. The man's never met a slider away that he didn't like. Throw in the error, and the ballet in the outfield. He's the team's big bat, and he didn't produce. A hit or two here or there, and we're looking at a different game.

  • It's been harder and harder for me to find things to write about this team. They're frustrating to loss, and the personalities on the team are quite difficult to care about. I haven't been doing as much writing about the games as I did last year, and I'm not really sure what the hell to write about more often than not. These things sort of come in waves, and I guess we're at an ebb.

    Which is a long way of saying I didn't feel like writing about the team yesterday and Jose Guillen gets the Majority Whip for the rare power-infused win. The Nats cranked out five homers; Jose had two. Good for him, and I hope his bat comes around, so we can dump him on some other team for prospects. or bats. or a nice big burrito. Mmmm. Burrito.

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