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Nats come up short in two key spots

May 22, 2011, 12:38 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Adam Jones slides in ahead of Wilson Ramos’ tag during the Nats’ 8-3 loss.

BALTIMORE — Most ballgames — even lopsided ones like the Nationals’ 8-3 loss to the Orioles on Saturday — are decided by a handful of key moments over the course of nine innings.

Sure enough, the outcome of this one hinged on two things: 1) John Lannan’s inability to stop the bleeding during the laborious third inning, and 2) Matt Stairs’ inability to put together a quality at-bat in a big spot in the sixth.

The rest was mostly window-dressing, with the Orioles piling on late and running away with a comfortable victory one night after getting torched by the Nationals for a club-record 17 runs.

Things might have looked different, especially had Lannan managed to navigate his way through that fateful third inning and limit the damage instead of allowing four runs on five hits and a walk.

It began with a free pass to Mark Reynolds followed by a home run from Nolan Reimold, with Lannan falling behind in the count 3-0 against each batter. He did retire the next two hitters he faced, but then served up back-to-back-to-back-to-back singles, three of them
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  1. Cwj - May 22, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    Good recap Mark!I'm going with a dozen runs tomorrow :)Tillman is no Zimmermann.

  2. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - May 22, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    Stares failed in a key spot? Wow. Does anybody else know about this? Matt Stares? Our guy? Sure it isn't another Stares? You mean that ninth-inning hit didn't matter?

  3. Cwj - May 22, 2011 at 1:01 AM

    Is it really necessary for some people to refer to him as "Stares"? Come on, he's a veteran ballplayer. Yes we all get that he can't hit anymore, but attempting to pun someone's name is kinda silly I think.

  4. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    No pun, he stinks.I'll take Ankiel's .200 BA, please.AlM

  5. Mark'd - May 22, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    Is a .075 BA a record for a DH for the lowest batting average to ever DH?His first pitch swinging in the 6th in that double play was poor for a veteran. A real chance with Guthrie throwing his 99th pitch to blow the game open behind 4-2.

  6. Cwj - May 22, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    Mark'd- doubtful it's a record, for so few AB's Stairs has had (30?). Yes Stairs needs to go. But, as much as it looks like it, it's not like he's trying to strikeout or GIDP.It's getting embarrassing watching him hit though.

  7. Doc - May 22, 2011 at 2:25 AM

    Stairs is probably going through the last struggle of his long career, but the team has greater offensive problems than him. It's hard to hide Stairs' weak bat when there are only 3 guys in the batting order consistently hitting order .250.Still there's hope, and I expect some more games at 10+ runs. I still believe that there is a lot of offensive talent on this team.

  8. Drew8 - May 22, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    OK, I've spent the day complaining about Lannan, but we're really kindred spirits.(When he gets his pitches up, I throw up too.) But here's a bit of good news:Brad Peacock twirled another gem at Harrisburg. He's now 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA. Get this. He has 66 strikeouts and only 9 walks. Sounds promising.

  9. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 3:03 AM

    @Drew8 don't tell JD he thinks Lannan pitches great.All Star break Lannan is traded (hopefully) with a decent return. Gorzelanny, Solis and Detwiler are enough left-handers for the Nats … with Robbie Ray pitching lights out in 'A". Time to swing a trade Lannan for whatever they can get for him by the All Star break. You heard it here first JD.

  10. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    It doesn't matter what Stairs does or does not do. He is a part of Riggleman's baseball celebrity golf tour. He gets to stay as long as Riggleman does … he's the one who wanted him on the roster, he's the one who picked him.So … the obvious solution is …. ding, ding, ding, ding!

  11. Cwj - May 22, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    I guess it's a good thing when the main player everyone dislikes is a pinch hitter. :-)

  12. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 3:23 AM

    I guess it's a good thing when the main player everyone dislikes is a pinch hitter. :-)I guess I don't understand? I don't dislike Stairs at all. What I do dislike (and I suspect this is shared by man) is the rationale behind choosing him for this roster. And that lies entirely on Jim Riggleman. If anything its Riggleman that's the problem not Stairs.

  13. Cwj - May 22, 2011 at 3:30 AM

    As for Lannan, I'm not sure what the Nats would get in return if he's traded. Cash maybe?He was good in 08 and 09 (I remember his quality starts well), but has clearly regressed. If he does in fact stick around, I'd like to see him converted to long relief in AAA.

  14. Cwj - May 22, 2011 at 3:35 AM

    Anon 11:23- Sorry, by "dislike" I meant the player who people want to see off the roster. Not dislike as in hate the guy, of course.I'm back and forth on Riggs. Some days I think he's a great manager. Other days I can't stand to watch his press conferences.But isn't it like that with every manager?

  15. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 3:57 AM

    But isn't it like that with every manager?To some extent … sure …But what is galling about Riggleman is how he chooses players to be on the 25 man roster. He does not choose players who will help him win games and instead tends to choose players whose careers he wants to enable. In other words Riggleman is a classic "enabler" as opposed to someone who understands what it takes to win a the major league level.

  16. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    How is it possibly fair to the rest of the team to keep trotting Stairs out there, in any capacity? It sends the worst possible message to the rest of the team, the message that this team isn't serious about winning.And it's not just players currently on the roster. We, fans, aren't the only ones who can see the problems Matt Stairs is having. What do players the team might pursue in the future think when they see this organization continuing to use players like Matt Stairs.Organizational decisions like this do more damage to an already severely damaged Nationals "brand"….the absolute worst part of this is that it's such an easy decision to make. The team would lose nothing by getting rid of him RIGHT NOW. It defies reason why this is even still an issue.

  17. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 22, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    Alumni News: Minny's Matt Capps coughed up a grand slam to Kelly Johnson in a six-run eighth inning in the Twins; 9-6 loss to th D-Backs. Matty is 1-3. And we got 15-year starting catcher Wilson Ramos for this guy. Take a bow, Mike Rizzo.

  18. natsfan1a - May 22, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    I always liked Matt, so I can't work up any Schadenfreude there (I'm liking Ramos, too). Wonder whether Capps might be rusty. It looks* like he's had just 7 save opportunities this month (8.2 IP). *ESPN stats page.

  19. natsfan1a - May 22, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    May line is here (and what the heck is wrong with this interface?):http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/6450/matt-capps

  20. Rabbit - May 22, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    I wasn't a fan of Caps when he was here. I'm glad he had a good spurt so we could get Ramos for him. Hopefully, Lannan will have a good spurt so we can get him the heck out of Dodge and find someone decent. However, it won't be long before we are a strong contender.

  21. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Nibblin' John is simply not a very good pitcher. He's not overpowering so he must rely on his control, which is erratic.I don't believe he's got much time left as a major leaguer. He'll be another one of those guys that plays a few years, disappears and 10 years from now, people ask, "What happenend to Joe Lannan?"

  22. Richard - May 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Riggleman chose Stairs for the roster? Really? I thought the GM chooses the roster. Maybe Anon can share some inside info as to how Riggelman is "entirely" responsible for choosing Stairs for the roster. I was blaming Mike Rizzo who, like most GMs, makes moves that sometimes work, sometimes not so much.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - May 22, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    The roster is selected by Rizzo, Roy Clark and Davey Johnson with SOME input from Riggleman.Anybody (including his Royal Highness Boswell and his followers) who thinks Riggleman put this roster together doesn't know much about MLB team operations.

  24. JaneB - May 22, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Thanks NatsJack for the insight on how the roster gets chosen. I winder who the Matt booster is, among that trio.Mark Z or anyone else: what gives that we can get no-hit one day and a dozen runs the next? I guess, if anyone Knew the true answer to that question, we wouldn't be seeing such wildly mixed results. Is there a pattern anyone can see? Is this phenomenon more common than we realize, or truly an odd situation? No matter how Capps is doing, Rizzo made a great trade. Loving Wilson, and we have our lights out closer in Storen, even if we have to pretend he isn't The Closer.I'm hoping Morse is at first base today. Go Nats!

  25. Anonymous - May 22, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    I can't stand John Lannan anymore. One of the most boring pitcher in the Major, always nibbling here and there, never attacking the hitters… You see him, hunchbacked and you feel that he is very, very not confident. Well, with his stuff, I won't be confident either.

  26. Anonymous8 - May 22, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    John Lannan is a #5 starter if you look across the average teams in the MLB. When he picks up his pace and stops nibbling with the ball keeping it low in the strike zone, he is a winner. Problem is he gets himself into too many 3-1 and 3-2 counts and sometimes grooved the ball in the strike zone and gets smashed in many of those situations.Still, he should have been pulled in the 5th or 6th inning only losing 4-2 to keep the offense in the game.

  27. JD - May 22, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    I agree that Lannan is an OK 5th starter;the problem is that his salari is 2.75 million and his ceiling is not that high. I think that given the opportunity to dump his salary you can slot Milone in that role for the major league minimum and get roughly the same results.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 83 18.5
x-Clinched NL East title

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
LOS ANGELES 87 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 85 68 3.5
-----------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 68 4.0 +2.0
PITTSBURGH 82 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 74 9.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title

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