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Maya struggles early, improves late

Sep 8, 2010, 3:22 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After a rough first inning, Yunesky Maya settled in and pitched well.

Yunesky Maya had been dreaming of this moment for years. All the time he spent pitching in the Cuban National Series, hoping to one day flee his native country and throw in a major-league ballpark in the United States, had been worth it. Here he was, on the mound at Nationals Park, the New York Mets in the opposing dugout.

And then, four batters into his big-league career, Ike Davis was circling the bases following a towering home run, and Maya and the Nationals were trailing 3-0.

Not the way Maya had envisioned this all playing out while lying in bed in Cuba, dreaming of a life he hoped he’d experience.

By the end of the night, though, Maya had righted his ship. Yes, he still was charged with the loss in the Mets’ 4-1 victory. But over his final four innings of work, he established his ability to get big-league hitters out with a vast assortment of pitches and impressed his new employers in the process.

“He kind of pitched as advertised,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “He got better as he went along, though. I think if he had been that sharp … out of the get-go, maybe he [only] gives up a run or two.”

Read the <a href="http://www.csnwashington.com/09/07/10/Zuckerman-Maya-Struggles-Early-Improves-/landing_v3.html?blockID=306148&feedID=5685&quot; target="
_blank”>full account of Maya’s debut on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Ernie - Sep 8, 2010 at 3:29 AM

    I always comment just before the write-up appears. I'm re-posting here only because I'm curious if anyone else noticed the new song played between innings early in the game tonight. Yes, it was that ridiculous):Back from the game. Pretty blah night. Only a couple of comments.1. Do all Cuban pitchers throw sub 70-mph breaking balls? Once Maya settled in he didn't seem that bad, and some of those pitches looked Livo-like from up in the 300-level.2. Attendance seemed terrible tonight. Maybe all the Mets fans were at the Lady Gaga concert, because it seemed like a pretty Nats-friendly crowd, but the empty seats and low energy level felt like April.3. In between innings,maybe in the 2nd or 3rd, they played a sing-along that was so bad it made me laugh until I cried. The Natspack/strippers were on top of the Nats' dugout pointing at their noses (something about getting the signs), miming swinging a bat, singing about touching all the bags… It had to be one of the most pathetic between-innings songs I've ever seen or heard, beating even the silly "Columbus Clippers, Ring Your Bell" song we used to sing at the AAA games when I was growing up. Part of me hopes that everyone else here gets to experience it. Part of me hopes that it never played again.

  2. souldrummer - Sep 8, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    @Ernie1) You can see the craftiness of El Duque and Livo in Maya's stuff. Problem is that fastball mandates that he'll have to pitch backwards in the bigs from what I saw. So he needs both command and pitch sequence to succeed. He was smart enough to do that against the Mets after the first two innings. Problem is the Mets weren't really offering a big league lineup tonight. The Ike Davis homer is okay for me. He's a legit left handed power bat who likes righties. The Reuben Tejada double in the second was more challenging and that was a big run that needed to be saved.I was very impressed by the adjustments that he made. I wonder how he would have fared tonight if Pudge had caught him instead of Ramos.2) Yep, the environment was bad. But Thursday the NFL season starts, and this game doesn't matter too much in the standings. That's the reality of the DC market right now.3) That song will be played again because it's a sponsorship that somebody paid big bucks for. Not sure if that's the sponsors fault or the Nats fault that you don't like it.

  3. Dave Nichols - Sep 8, 2010 at 4:16 AM

    Ernie, that wasn't the Nat Pack. They were part of a cross-promotion with a piano bar in the Gaylord Resort. Really tasteless, if you ask me, since part of the act was done to "Get Down Tonight".

  4. The Anti-Clint - Sep 8, 2010 at 4:35 AM

    Speaking of weird things at Nats Park…as all of you likely know, when the Nats are up, the opposing team's pitcher is profiled on the ribbon board along the third base line. In addtion to pitch speed, the following stats are shown: W-L, ERA, and total strikeouts. In the bottom of the sixth tonight, I swear that the W-L record displayed for Gee was 1-0. I would have taken a picture, but I didn't have my camera, only my cell phone and I was too far away to get a clear shot. They jumped the gun a bit on that one! They did the exact same thing at another game I was recently at too – I can't remember the specifics on that one right now though. Oh, and as much as I am glad Pudge is a part of this team, he grounds into way too many double plays. I'd bet he's right at the top of the league leaders in that dubious category. I really wanted to see Espinosa bat in the bottom of the ninth tonight, but I figured that Pudge would blow it given his tendency to hit into double plays. Maybe Riggs should have forgotten his Righty-Lefty obsession and used Kennedy instead of Pudge as a pinch hitter in that situation.

  5. Anonymous - Sep 8, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Does Dunn ever get a big hit for us? When the chips are down and the game is close, the crowd is on its feet…..does he EVER come thru? Let the big bum go via free agency….and good riddance!

  6. Doc - Sep 8, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Baseball being baseball, on any give night, etc. However, there was nothing in Gee's past record, or the hitting skills of our batters, that would have given the winning odds to the Mets in this game. The Nats were the better team, and will be the better team.

  7. yankish2 - Sep 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    I agree with Anon 12:30 a.m.; Adam Dunn rarely if ever gets a big hit. Usually he becomes timid trying to coax a walk. More often than not it is called strike three or swing and miss at an outside curve ball. But who else is there to play first base? Oh I forgot, Michael Morris.

  8. Anonymous8 - Sep 8, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Off topic on the crowd, did you see the highlights of the Brewers Cardinals game last night when a Brewers fan was heckling Yadier Molina of the Cardinals?The fan was ejected. So embarassing, they showed it on ESPN. Maybe if the Phillies started ejecting their unruly fans it would be an almost empty stadium!

  9. Mr Donkey - Sep 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    It was funny to see Maya had an 81.00 era after he gave up that home run. By the time he was pulled he had a 7.20 era. Impressive improvement. Yeah. That song thing is really stupid. I blame the nats for allowing it and the gaylord people for doing it. A lot of the 'entertainment' that the nats put on is terrible and this is just the tip of the iceberg. How bout we just play / watch baseball. No more sausage tosses?

  10. Anonymous - Sep 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Yankish2,His name is spelled Morse.

  11. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 8, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    Am I the only one expecting Espinosa to be benched for Kennedy beacause of his horrendus day at the plate yesterday?

  12. Anonymous - Sep 8, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Does Dunn ever get a big hit? Seriously? Does the two homers in L.A. that single-handedly won the game not count? Oh, you want game on the line moment? How about in July against the Mets, when his bases clearing triple was the key hit in the 9th inning comeback? Good enough? Come on – let's not be so what have you done for me lately with our star players…

  13. Sunderland - Sep 8, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Anon8, from what I read, it was the home plate ump that tossed the fan, then stadium security got involved.I'd like to hear the umpires version of events for tossing the fan. Fan says he was hecking Yadier all game, but never cursed. Who knows.The most embarrassing part of the game last night was after Gee finished the 2nd inning. 6 up, 6 down, in 18 pitches. And he had the first 5 outs in 12 pitches. Incredible or pathetic, I have not yet decided.Pudge comes to bat, we really felt like it was game over. After Dunn watch strike 3, you just felt like the Pudge DP was a certainty.If we lose Dunn, I won't be exactly pleased. But I won't be exactly upset either.Several beer vendors mentioned last night that this looked like the smallest crowd of the season. A lot of that surely has to do with the pathetic state of the Mets.

  14. Steve M. - Sep 8, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    A player, a manager, a coach and even a fan ejected during Brewers-Cardinals gameBy The Associated Press (CP) – 9 hours agoMILWAUKEE — A player, a manager, a coach and even a fan were ejected Tuesday night during the Milwaukee Brewers' 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.In the bottom of the seventh, home plate umpire Bob Davidson stopped the game and walked to the stands near the backstop netting and motioned for a fan, Sean A. Ottow, 44, of Waukesha, Wis., wearing a T-shirt with a Brewers logo on it to leave his seat. An usher motioned for him to leave, and the fan stood and posed with his arms extended in the air in a V shape while drawing loud cheers from the fans.Ottow was cited for disorderly conduct by police and ejected. He said he was heckling Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina."But I never swore at him," Ottow said while handcuffed to a bench on Miller Park's service level. "He just got the umpire to throw me out. We were bantering back and forth and I guess Molina couldn't take it anymore."You'd think these guys would have tougher skin than that," he said.Ottow was able to watch the game on television while being processed in the Police Command Post at Miller Park and took pleasure when Molina struck out looking to end the eighth."I don't care how much this costs me… you're a loser Molina!" he shouted.Molina declined to comment.

  15. Steve M. - Sep 8, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    On the observations on Dunn choking on big game moments, he has 91 RBIs so he can't be choking all the time. It is just magnified by moments like last night although Pudge's GIDP was heart breaking as with runner's on 1st and 3rd with 1 out and the pitcher ready to fall apart, Pudge rolled over.Dunn doesn't do well in those Lefty/Lefty matchups in the 9th inning. I will still take him for the 90+ RBIs though in other situations.

  16. Richard - Sep 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    And how about Dunn's recent homer leading off the 4th inning last weekend in Pittsburgh to get the Nats rolling in that inning and for the last two games of the series? His RISP currently is only .217, but he like other homerun hitters is in scoring position when he's in the batter's box, so his RISP should be a lot higher.

  17. Steve M. - Sep 8, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    Richard, I agree and with a player like Dunn, the conventional stats usually don't tell the full story of the HR hitter.With games on the line situations, Dunn has to find a way to get on base or make contact earlier in the count.

  18. md62red - Sep 8, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I got the sense that Maya was more 'auditioning' for the Nats than he was pitching to get batters out. Just seemed like the pitch selection was all over the place as a way of saying, "See how many pitches I can throw"….just my $0.02 worth. I agree that it seems that Dunn has more than a few missed opportunities in crucial, game-on-the-line situations. However, my biggest heartburn with last night was Pudge's AB in the B9. Why on earth would Riggs put him in there? Just when the Nats were looking like they might make a comeback, you throw water on the fire….

  19. Will - Sep 8, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Adam Dunn is pretty terrible in "clutch" situations.While he does have 91 RBIs this year, 34 of those were from him crossing the plate. So, he's only driven in 57 other players, which is quite a feat when a guy like Ryan Zimmerman has been batting in front of him for the majority of the season (however Nyjer Morgan's .315 OBP is noted as well).With runners in scoring position, Dunn's OPS drops .136 points to .783. He's also batting a paltry .217 with RISP. With 2 outs and RISP, he's even worse, batting .156 (!) and an OPS of .700Or, according to FanGraphs' Clutch metric, Dunn is -0.43, which is about average for 1B. He has a career clutch score of -2.89, and hasn't posted a positive clutch score since 2005.

  20. Nervous Nats Fan - Sep 8, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Mark, when I click on the CSN link, it takes me to a page with white space where the story should be. I'm able to see the story when I click through the CSN pages for the Nationals.

  21. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 8, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    Nervous Nats Fan: Link should work now. Sorry about that.

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