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Missed opportunities outweigh one mistake

May 22, 2011, 10:49 PM EDT

Associated Press photo
Jim Riggleman argues with plate umpire Todd Tichenor in the top of the first.

BALTIMORE — Jordan Zimmermann was cruising, baffling the Orioles with an assortment of fastballs, curveballs and sliders and showing no signs of letting up when he took the mound for the bottom of the seventh Sunday at Camden Yards.

So why did there still seem to be a sense of impending doom for the Nationals? Sure, they led 1-0 behind Zimmermann’s brilliance. But after squandering so many opportunities to add to that lead earlier, it would only take one mistake by the right-hander to swing this game in the opposite direction.

That one mistake, alas, came in the bottom of the seventh. And it came to perhaps the Orioles’ most-feared hitter: Vladimir Guerrero, who dropped Zimmermann’s 0-2 curveball into the left-field bleachers and sent the Nationals to a tough-to-swallow, 2-1 loss in the finale of this weekend’s interleague series.

A game that saw manager Jim Riggleman get ejected only two pitches into the top of the first ultimately was decided by the Nationals’ continued inability to convert with men on base and on Guerrero’s 441st career homer.

That home run came on a breaking ball at the knees, a pitch that would normally be acceptable. Against Guerrero, one of the greatest bad-ball hitters in history, it was the equivalent of a hanging beach
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  1. Doc - May 22, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Hey JD,Mickey Morse not only got 2 hits, 1 more than most of the Nats, but he also made a few good plays in the field—meet our new 1B man!!!!

  2. Rabbit - May 23, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    They may work hard. They may work harder than most teams so they think good things will start to happen. But, good things won't start to happen. Not this year.

  3. masnstinks - May 23, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    Once again – Matt Stairs- it's deja vous all over again. It's going to be a long season.

  4. yankish2 - May 23, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    This team is tough to watch. Anyone notice how Manny Acta is doing over in that other league?

  5. Anonymous - May 23, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    Please can we get rid of Matt Stairs? Keep Bernadina up and let Stairs retire!!! I am so frustrated with him. As he is constantly saying, he too is frustrated. Well it is time to relieve him of his frustration!!! Retire Matt.

  6. Bruce Boudreau - May 23, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    We ran into a hot goalie today.

  7. The Great Unwashed - May 23, 2011 at 1:56 AM

    The Orioles:The interleague Marlins

  8. Gonat - May 23, 2011 at 2:20 AM

    The team has gotten decent production from the starters and if you get them through the 6th with a lead of 2 or less it is time to close it out with Clip/Burn/Store. A 1-0 win is still a WIN.Sure it is tough to take the ball away from a starter like Friday night with Marquis but Zim has had 3 leads given away by starting off an inning that went bad—remember the 5-1 lead that was given away in a Grand Slam?Clean innings are much better for this bullpen and it is Riggleman and McCatty's job to know their starters. If they don't by now, shame on them.

  9. Anonymous - May 23, 2011 at 5:21 AM

    Time to kick Rizzo in the side. Time to switch managers and shake up the roster.

  10. Nattydread - May 23, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Its a game of inches. Either of Bernadina's shots would have made this game a win. Sure, some better situational hitting would have helped with runners in scoring position. Nats players don't seem to have a plan when they are hitting in high leverage situations. To many flailing Ks.Zimmermann pitched well. Can't fault the decision to leave him in vs the heart of the order in the 7th.

  11. DCSportsHomer - May 23, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Why can't we take some of the runs scored in the first game and apply them to the last two games? There was plenty to go around. haha Nattydread said…"Zimmermann pitched well. Can't fault the decision to leave him in vs the heart of the order in the 7th."I agree. Nats pitching has been very good this year. I would have left Zimmermann in too.As for the Nats batting, I like the fact that they are patient at the plate. I just can't figure out why they strand so many runs. I hope they figure this out soon.I will be patient with the Nats this year if they hover aound a .500 record. Next year, I expect a good free agent signing and a better than .500 record.

  12. natscan reduxit - May 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    … re: Matt Stairs, I have to – sadly and reluctantly – agree with Anonymous, that Matt should be removed from the player roster. But it seems to me the Nats would do well to find a spot for him as a hitting coach (or some appropriate position) at some minor league (leading to the MLB) level…. and now a question: if Vlad Guerrero is to be in the HoF some day, which cap will he wear? It seems logical to me that it be the curly M of the Expos but others may feel differently.Go Nats!!

  13. JD - May 23, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Stairs didn't start; pinch hit in the 9th and drew a walk and he is still the center of conversation here which proves that people absolutely have to have one person to complain about no matter what. Last year it was Maxwell; this year it started with Morgan and when he was gone it was Stairs. I think LaRoche is on deck.

  14. Anonymous - May 23, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    How does anyone here know whether or not Stairs would be a good hitting coach?

  15. Anonymous - May 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Oh, grate. Now were speling things wrong in too languages.

  16. Anonymous - May 23, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    LaRoche is hurt. What's Stairs's excuse?

  17. Anonymous - May 23, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Why are people complaining about people complaining about this team? You are supposed to complain and discuss solutions for a team with the worst offense in baseball. That's the whole point of being a serious follower and fan of this team. There is plenty of credit given to the pitching and other team strengths on this board. if you can't complain about sub .200 hitters this late in the season, than you can't complain about anything in baseball.

  18. natscan reduxit - May 23, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Anon @ 9:36: I thnk Matt's hitting success over the years would mean he should get some attention at least in the role of hitting coach. I can't say he'd be a good one but he has made a name for himself in at least a few areas at the plate.

  19. Doc - May 23, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    @ Natscan reduxit: Let's get Walker and Raines into HOF first. Looking back, when the 'Spos had money, we would have been able to hold on to Guerrero long enough for him to have been a Nats for few years. Of course, he can't run and hit now, but he's had a pretty good HOF kind of career.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 78 14.5
NEW YORK 75 80 16.0
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 84 20.0
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's early games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 67 3.0
ST. LOUIS 87 68 4.0
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 70 6.5 +0.5
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's early games

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MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
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