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Game 98: Nats at Astros

Jul 20, 2011, 3:37 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
Livan Hernandez faces Brett Myers in today's series finale at Minute Maid Park.

Remember that remarkable run the Nationals went on in early-to-mid June? You know, when they won 12 of 13 games, seemingly all of them by one run? Well, they've fallen back into a more consistent pattern since then. Basically, they win a game or two, then they lose a game or two.

Indeed, since June 17, the Nats have been no better than two games over .500, nor have they been worse than two games under .500. Consistent mediocrity, I guess you could call it. Which is still a significant improvement from years past, of course.

Today, the Nationals try to get back to the break-even point yet again, needing a win over the Astros to take this series in Houston. Livan Hernandez, who went only four innings in his last start and boasts a 5.27 ERA in his last five outings, needs to get himself back on track. Veteran Brett Myers will face a Nats lineup that is without Ian Desmond or Laynce Nix (both getting a day off to rest nagging ailments).

As you know, I haven't been in Houston for this series. Enjoy the weekday matinee and the back-and-forth conversation as always…

NATIONALS at ASTROS
Where: Minute Maid Park
Gametime: 2:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Dome (Outside: 91 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from RF)

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (48-49)
LF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse

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270 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Navy Nats Fan - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    or not

  2. Navy Nats Fan - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    Talk about strange managing – no attempt to get the runner into scoring position?

  3. Gonat - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    Mr. Werth, if all it took was posting the "good video" of you, I would have done it 7 weeks ago.

  4. LoveDaNats - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    Wow! There is light in his eyes and a spring in his step! I like the "good Jayson"

  5. A DC Wonk - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    Werth — 3-for-5 with two doubles and a homer?Now _that's_ what a break-out looks like. (We just hope it's for real!)

  6. gonatsgo - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    I really need to stop leaving my desk – wow. I have been scanning the posts from the last hour. Bullpen management has been serious problem since Davey took over. He is absolutely terrible at it. He also still doesn't seem to"get" his personnel and manages poorly when the game is stressful – almost all the time with the nats. A very stubborn adherence to the vets, too – ie – putting Stairs in critical spots. Those one-run games we used to win with that little bit of wizardry and magic are no more. Now we lose them on the little things gone wrong. Hate going into an off day and a west-coast series this way. And by the way – is it april fools day – wtf with Jayson Werth?

  7. LoveDaNats - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    Thanks, Gonat

  8. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    RISP — fold, fold, fold.

  9. Gonat - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    I lost count of the O-fers with RISP. %$*&#@!

  10. A DC Wonk - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    A very stubborn adherence to the vets, too – ie – putting Stairs in critical spots.When was the last time Stairs was used?(My point is that there have been dozens of "critical spots" in the last week or so where Stairs was not used).

  11. Exposremains - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    One thing is for sure with these Nats is that they love to look at right down the middle 1st pitch strikes. Is there a stat for that?

  12. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    Anonymous said… How close was Lee's out to being gone? MLB.com field view shows it on the wall… July 20, 2011 5:02 PMNot close to the wall at all.Probably 5 ft in front of the warning track

  13. Gonat - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Oh my, Quintero with a bleeder single. Unreal.

  14. JaneB - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    It goes without saying that we all hope this is a sign that Jayson has broken out. But I hopenit so much, couldn't not say it.Thanks for this great stats, Wonk. I was one of the people convinced we had tk be leading the league in leaving guys stranded in third. Good to know otherwise.

  15. Gonat - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    Why are they pitching to Bourn?

  16. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    because they don't want to pitch to Hunter Pence.would not have been my call.

  17. gonatsgo - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    DCwonk – Stairs – today.

  18. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Absolute garbage to the worst team in baseball.

  19. Exposremains - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Pathetic

  20. baseballswami - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    When did Coffey get so bad?

  21. rogieshan - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Why wasn't Bourn walked intentionally to set up the double play?

  22. A DC Wonk - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    gonatsgo said… DCwonk – Stairs – today.I meant the last time. It's not like he uses him all the time, which is what the comment implied.In the meantime, let's all blame Davey for this. It, obviously, was his fault that the team was 0-for-9 in RISP, and the top three of the order was 1-for-13.

  23. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    Last place, here we come! However, "this is a much better last place team than last year's last place team." Yeah, right, whatever. Yawn.

  24. Anonymous8 - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Lets just talk about Coffey's inning. Quintero is a righty so why is Werth in doubles defense in the opposite field. Then Quintero gets sacrificed to 2nd and with 1st base open they don't intentionally walk Bourn in a righty/lefty.Bad strategy and when you don't play it by the book it will catch up with you.

  25. Anonymous8 - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Coffey is now worth NOTHING on the trade market.

  26. Manassas Nats Fan - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Astros have gone two months without winning a series and we let them win. Come on guys, that is embarrassing. I do not understand and several people who I trust who played nall don't understand to tel me, but maybe you guys who are smarter know. Why are most of the our strikes outs either a called 3rd strike or a swing at one out of the zone, and very few swinging at actual strikes?

  27. A DC Wonk - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    Why are most of the our strikes outs either a called 3rd strike or a swing at one out of the zone, and very few swinging at actual strikes?Like our misperceptions with clutch hitting, do you that this is the case? Or does it just seem that way? (I think stats for that are at fangraph)

  28. NatsLady - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    So, I leave to teach three students and we lose the game????? People!!! I see by the box score Coffey lost the game? Sheesh, what happened to the good Coffey?

  29. gonatsgo - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:43 PM

    DCWonk — I am well aware that many people think Davey Johnson is the greatest manager since baseball began. I don't and when your team is just bad enough or good enough to be in constant one-run games, poor strategies decision get exposed. No – he is not the one out there hitting. But – this team that used to look intense and focused, even in losses, now looks very lost. There does not seem to be any kind of consistency or plan – the game is happening to them instead – things are reactive not proactive. I hope he finds a way to get a clear, sensible plan and get everyone moving forward in LA.

  30. FS - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    Well this just tells us we should be in sell mode this deadline and not worry about who fills in for those trade-able pieces. Facing Astros, in their hitter-friendly park, we should have performed better. Marquis, Coffey, and Nix can still get us few low level guys or whatever. Marquis and Nix are free agent at the end of the season so if need be, we can sign them later.I would still like to hold on to clippard, but understand that if an everyday solution can be brought in by trading him, sounds good.

  31. CBinDC - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    so here we are losing two of three to the worst team in MLB ……HOW will we ever change the CULTURE of LOSING on this team if you lose 2 of 3 to the worst team in MLB ……remember they are the worst TEAM IN MLB

  32. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    4 batters 3 hits. Nice job FATTY. 11 more days he is gone. My question is why Davey didn't pinch it for Flores. That bat by Flores was an embarrasment. Well gotta go. It's COFFEE time!!! BRING BACK RIGGLEMAN

  33. baseballswami - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    Wow – I see that Jayson Werth had a good game, Livo was obviously ok and everyone else was terrible? Is that what happened? Let's hope LA is better. Day off tomorrow to lick wounds. At least no complaining about the bullpen being tired on Friday.( just kind of not very good lately?) I would hate to be on that plane tonight – ouch.

  34. CBinDC - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    Here is something the Davy Johnson period is now a losing record with more errors and even worse situational hitting then before ……so much for hoping that there was a manager with magic as part of their bag of management tools

  35. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    4 batters 3 hits. Nice job chubby. Why is Flores batting and not Ramos in the situation. That at bat by Flores was embarrasing. Oh well gotta go its COFFEE time!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  36. Manassas Nats Fan - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    Do you have to belong to fangraph to find information like the K's?

  37. CBinDC - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Dear Mark question ….what is the team record if Matt Stairs is used as a PH ……does he add, subtract or is neutral to the record

  38. nationals7 - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Heart. Break.

  39. Joe Seamhead - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    Yeah, right, Davey Johnson doesn't know anything about baseball anymore. Give me a break. We can't use Tyler every day. Between Coffey and Burnett, we have two pitchers that we can't consistently trust right now. Matheus is a pretty good rookie, but, man, we've already got a pretty fair amount out of him.Flores isn't ready to be back in prime time. Ryan Zimmerman went o-5. Espy didn't do diddly. Werth, in addition to the HR, gets two doubles, (batting fifth, I might add), and nobody can bring him in either time. Matt Stairs?Nobody gets that whole deal. Should Jason Werth dove for that ball? Probably a bad idea, as it was a stretch to catch and if he misses it, there's no one behind him, and the hit goes for lead off extra bases. The last three losses have all been painful, but we'll come back. Just keep going you Nationals!

  40. Exposremains - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    I really haven't anything thats better with Nats since D. Johnson has taken over. I like that he doesn't make excuses for his players but there is no real consequences. Can anybody tell me things that this team do better under him?

  41. Anonymous8 - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Gonat said… Davey has mis-used his bullpen almost all of the time. Even last night Coffey fell apart as he stinks in full innings of work. July 20, 2011 4:31 PM You said that about an hour before Coffey stepped in and for another game, the blood, sweat and tears falls on Coffey. Between Coffey and Burnett, the 2 of them are just not getting it done.Rizzo should be pissed as Coffey a few days ago would have brought in a decent A ball prospect.

  42. Drew8 - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    New FDA warning: Coffey gives you the runs.

  43. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Todd Coffey threw seven pitches and gave up three hits.Unbelievable.

  44. Nats - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    We HAVE to keep Clippard. Next year, when we REALLY need someone to get outs with the bases loaded, we have to have him. Also, Stras will only be going 6 or 7 innings, he has to be on a limit. You cannot give up Clip and you CANNOT overuse him.

  45. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Clip hasn't pitched since Sunday and we have a day off tomorrow. Using him today was very reasonable.They're going to burn the kid out. Mattheus is their last best hope to avoid that. As H-Rod is inconsistent when it comes to control. But he doesn't allow gopher balls with the bags loaded as Burnett has this year. But walks do kill. The injuries to both Carr and Kimball (both shoulder surgeries) really put a major crimp in things. With those two the Nats had reinforcements. Unless Severino continues to pitch well (he is a lefty) I don't see anyone down in Syracuse that can help in the bullpen at this point … short of Josh Wilkie. And he isn't having the banner year he had last season.

  46. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    It's COFFEE time!!! BRING BACK RIGGLEMAN.RIGGLEMAN picked this roster that means Gaudin and Coffey. Not everything was Rizzo and the FO. Riggleman only pitched guys he trusted and that meant overusing Clippard and Storen and leaving H-Rod, Mattheus, and Burnett to mop up duties. RIGGLEMAN is the guy who loved to bring in "Miss Iowa" who was notorious for allowing grandslams and dingers. But he would still trot out Miguel Batista until Rizzo got rid of him. C'mon RIGGLEMAN : .445 winning percentage, bad attitude, EEYOR face. JOHNSON : .537 winning percentage, we will win, CONFIDENT!

  47. UNTERP.NAT - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    I don't want to say anything good about Werth and you know why. Two weeks ago I tried to warn everyone about the real Nats and not to expect too much in my own way mainly to caution everyone. This team still has many holes and a bit to go before we can classify them as a good team. When I was negative it was because I wanted to believe that they were better than they were. They had been winning too many one run games with smoking mirrors and you had to know that this wouldn't continue. They are a much improved team from the previous two seasons but still a long ways to go and are very competitive. Whether Riggleman throwing the team under the bus at the time regressed them, we will never know, but his timing and selfishness didn't help. But as a former NCAA basketball coach once uttered and this epitomizes the Washington Nationals and I think best describes who they are to a man, "Don't give up, don't ever give up."

  48. NatsLady - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Davey better get in the mode of using Detwiler. We are not going to the playoffs (sob!). So DON'T DON'T damage Clip's arm permanently (cf. Chad Cordero). Don't trade him to a playoff contender, because THEY will overuse him, the temptation is overwhelming.And you can't say "middle relievers are a dime a dozen." They may be, but Clip has THE best record for not letting inherited runners score (RISP). That is INVALUABLE unless you have the kind of pitching staff that NEVER gets into late inning jams. You have to manage him so that incredible skill is with us next year when Stras and Zimm'nn, etc., are the rotation.Good job, Jayson!!

  49. natsfan1a - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Haven't read through the comments but was happy to see Werth breaking out his bat today with the two doubles and the HR. Was endearing when Morse tapped Werth's helmet for him, after which Jayson finally did it himself (alright, I did it, too – happy now?). I think Morse was happier for Werth than for himself. Also some good work from Livo and Clippard, on the plus side. On the minus side, well, I'm sure all that's already been cussed and discussed as my husband would say. Wasn't happy with the ending and shouted at the tv set some in the final innings but I've since regained my equilibrium because, in the end, it's just a game, ya know?

  50. natsfan1a - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Oh, and maybe sec3 should call Jayson an Alpha Hotel more often. ;-)

  51. NatsLady - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    1a, it's just a game? When did that happen?

  52. Frediemac - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    Losers! I guess we are back to winning 2 games a weekDavey Johnson is gone at the end of another last place finish

  53. Unkyd - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    Random thoughts:One anon has us pegged for in the division, done deal. Not.I don't think I've heard even ONE "Hosanna!" in regard to Davey. Many of us considered him a good choice, given the ridiculous situation we were in, there. If we were 10 over .500, at this point, there would be talk of giving a couple of years, but maybe he IS Gibbs 3.0. At least we can make a rational decision, after the season. Davey was a good choice, at the time, as the main thing was to have some gravitas in the clubhouse, for the second half.Turns out, the use of the BP didn't matter… We didn't score enough to win…The hits are coming… They're just not properly organized. The timing will come, too.I hope Rizzo doesn't trade anything that might be useful, beyond this year. We want to have as many bats, arms, and gloves as possible competing for spots on next years roster, come spring. Plenty of time to trade veteran depth for prospects, after things shake out. We're not good, now. Next year, we will be…. You'll see :-)

  54. Unkyd - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Should have read:One anon has us pegged for LAST in the division, done deal. Not.One other thing: I miss NatsJack, but I get why he doesn't post much…

  55. A DC Wonk - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    Oh, please, a team is never as bad as it looks when it's losing, and not as good as it looks when it's winning. The team doesn't look focused? C'mon! That's what some commenters were saying about Livo after the second inning today. But then he pitched four scoreless innings after that.Davey's track record speaks for itself — it's too bad that some here don't hear it, or else are just biased against him.And anyone who thinks that we can tell how Davey's doing with the team because he's managed just a few weeks has forgotten what the phrase "small sample size" means.Does anyone remember when last year the neg-Anons were saying that the Nats should have hired a manager like Buck Showalter, because the Orioles had started winning?How's that Showalter thing working out for the O's now?Davey manages for the long term. Most fans, including many here, think in the short term.

  56. N. Cognito - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    Coffey has never been all that good. For the Nats this season, he had one really good month – May.Kinda like the Nats. They're really a 75 win team, but that winning streak that put them 2 games over .500 is like Coffey's month of May.Doesn't matter who manages this team, it's not going to win much more or less than 75 games.

  57. Dave - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    Somebody with no name said: "BRING BACK RIGGLEMAN"Riggleman quit. Nobody sent him away.

  58. Unkyd - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    Hunter Pence: Available….. Tawk amongst yourselves…

  59. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    Can he play left? They didn't get much for Keppinger, but the Giants weren't bidding against much, apparently, for a second baseman. Outfield bat, I think, not the same market. Would it take Clippard to outbid others for the trade?

  60. Anonymous - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    Hey Gonat, quit whining. You act like your the only one who knows anything. Are you JZs cousin? I'll admit the kid looks really good at times but he still throws to many juicey balls when he is ahead in the count.

  61. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  62. natsfan1a - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    um…sorry?

  63. natsfan1a - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    I suspect that I may have missed something, but I'm not going to try to get through 260 posts right now to figure it out. 'night all.

  64. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  65. NatsLady - Jul 21, 2011 at 3:25 AM

    "Outfield bat, I think, not the same market. Would it take Clippard to outbid others for the trade?"Sofa, hush yo mouth. No trading Clippard. NO.

  66. sjm308 - Jul 21, 2011 at 4:23 AM

    The absolute one thing I like about Davey is he speaks his mind and is apparently not afraid to say stuff. I have never heard Riggs say anything like I heard in Davey's pregame interview with Dave & Charlie. He basically said that the bench when he took over was not what he would have had if he had been here from the beginning and he is right. He went on to explain that he had Cora, Hairston, and Bixler. Basically 3 middle infielders and he also said he has two young starters that must get the majority of the playing time. He went on to say he had gone to the 3 subs and explained the situation, that they were not going to get much time in the infield. Hairston of course got hurt but can play the outfield and if you look, he also played Bixler there a few times. The point is Davey was not afraid to be honest about his bench. Bixler is now back in AAA and while Stairs puzzles all of us with his presence, at least I am positive that Davey wants him here. Go Nats – still looking for that 78 wins this year which will be another nice step forward no matter what the neganons or as Dave aptly called them "somebody with no name".

  67. Drew8 - Jul 21, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    Farm report:The Harper show comes to Richmond Thursday, with young Roy Hobbs hobbled by a 1-for-25 skid. Let's hope he feasts on Flying Squirrels.At Syracuse, Lombardozzi is hitting .345 with a .381 on base percentage.Marrero is hitting .307 with a .383 on base percentage.I wish Marrero had more than 9 home runs, but he's knocked in 50 and has put together a nice all-around season at the dish.At Hagerstown a reliever blew A.J. Cole's chance for his third win. Cole gave up one earned in five innings and dropped his ERA to 2.83. He has 64 K's, 10 walks and an excellent whip (walks + hits/IP) of 1.11.At Potomac, Danny Rosenbaum threw a complete game, gave up 3 earned runs and took the loss. Rosenbaum has a 2.67 ERA, with 91 K's, 38 walks and a fine 1.20 whip.At Auburn, 3b Matt Skoke (the Nats' 2011 5th round pick, who should have used a designated driver at Georgia Tech) is knocking the ball around. He's batting third in the order and drove in 4 runs tonight. He's hitting .315 with 18 RBIs in 32 games.

  68. Drew8 - Jul 21, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    Typo — the 3b at Auburn is Matt Skole.

  69. Scooter - Jul 21, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    Thanks as always for the bush-league dope, Drew. You do a fine job of hitting the highlights for us.

  70. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Second that.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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ON THE RADIO

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