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Momentum killer

Sep 17, 2011, 3:21 AM EST

US Presswire photo
John Lannan suffered his sixth loss in seven starts.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the legitimate progress they’ve made — or, at the very least, the impressive sweep they just pulled off in New York earlier this week — that a game like the Nationals slogged their way through Friday night felt so lackluster.

Truth be told, this 3-0 loss to the Marlins hardly qualified as a disaster of a ballgame. Sure, John Lannan struggled early, but he still managed to go six innings allowing three runs (the minimum definition of a “quality” start). A lineup that pounded out 10 runs Thursday afternoon at Citi Field didn’t come close to producing one run in the opener of this weekend series, but Marlins starter Javier Vazquez deserves some credit for tossing the eighth shutout of his career.

“The thing is,” Lannan said, “you run into a buzzsaw every once in a while.”

And a finely tuned buzzsaw can kill all the momentum you thought you had going for you during a five-game winning streak.

“Just because we lost the game doesn’t mean it’s not going to carry over,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “Lannan came out and did a good job: Six innings, three runs. We didn’t play bad, I don’t think.
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  1. JaneB - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    I was surprised by the lack of focus in the stands, tonight. It was like social hour. I'm all for having a fun time at the park, don't get me wrong. But it didn't feel like people were paying much attention. At all. Now, was that because the fish got out ahead early? End of the season? Dunno. But it was odd. I was wrong about the win tonight. But I won't be wrong about the win on Saturday.

  2. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:41 AM

    I was also at the game tonight, Section 310. With Lannan's mediocre outing and lack of hitting, I already knew what kind of night it was going to be by the 6th inning when I became bored. Maybe that's when I started playing with my Droid phone. Only the neat double play in the 8th inning kept me from falling asleep. I've seen this "movie" many times as a season ticket holder since 2005, and it always ends the same way, too.

  3. Harper_ROY_2012 - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    Lannan is finishing up the season the way he began the 2010 season, he went from a lock in the 2012 rotation to someone who should be traded for a bag of balls in the offseason. He is a AAAA pitcher and will never be a double digit winner in the majors…BYE BYE John!

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 17, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Anybdy who thinks LannEns effort last night deserves "quality" status doesn't know anything about pitching.

  5. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 17, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    But hats off to Vasquez… he threw like a right handed Cliff Lee at his best.

  6. Gonat - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Anybdy who thinks LannEns effort last night deserves "quality" status doesn't know anything about pitching. September 17, 2011 5:52 AM _____________________________You beat me to it. 4.50 ERA 8 Hits 3 BB 1.83 WHIP

  7. Big Cat - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Poor Johnny Lannan. "I'm tired of battling" I was waiting for "I'd sell my soul for 10 runs!" Enter…..Ray WalstonMick… read Kiss It Goodbye by Shelby Whitfield?

  8. Mark'd - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Stammen looked better than Lannan. Not saying Stammen is starter material just saying he is better here than Syracuse and faced the same lineup as Lannan tonight and performed better.

  9. Mick - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    I have not Big Cat, I will now, thanks a bunch!!

  10. NatsLady - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Got home in time to see Bixler (Where was he going, what was he thinking????) followed by Bonifacio (Where was he going, what was he thinking???). That was a cool doubleplay, good thinking by Ramos. Davey not too high on Lannan either. Some pretty tepid support:"I think he'll be fine," Johnson said. "He's a competitor. He loves to compete. Nothing seems to bother him too bad, and he can be real good at times."Not a "masterpiece," Davey? No.

  11. Mick - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Big Cat…. Ray Walston, i love it!

  12. Mick - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    while were at it, "your blind ump your blind ump you must be out yer mind ump", lol

  13. Big Cat - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    "…..when your luck is batting zero….get your chin up off the floor….YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART! MILES N MILES of HEART!…."

  14. NatsLady - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets."OK, not sure where that fits here, but my favorite.

  15. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    "Anything Goes" ???

  16. Big Cat - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    "Whatever NatsLady wants, NatsLady gets……"

  17. natsfan1a - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Mister, you can be a hero. You can open any door.

  18. baseballswami - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    So – Lannan has been struggling and trying to hit that magic number 10. The line up comes out – no Werth or Morse and you are facing a team that has your number with a real veteran workhorse pitcher. Bernie and Nix – just back from injuries, haven't played much and Nix has been considerably frigid since the first half. Before the game even starts the deck is stacked.We are saving our good lineup for King Strassie.

  19. natsfan1a - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    Watched about half the game and then turned elsewhere. When I turned back, it was just in time for the Bixler pickoff. Will be out and about today but will set the DVR to record tonight's game. Hope to be able to watch film of a win later.On another note, earlier this season who'd a thunk that people would bemoan Werth's being out of the lineup? Good for you, Jayson.

  20. natsfan1a - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    (Oh, and I turned away again after the pickoff. I must be part of the Short Attention Span Theater crowd. :-))

  21. natsfan1a - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    (Although I did turn back again. Just in time for the final out. Oh well.)Here's hoping that the Nats give the fans something to cheer about today and tomorrow.

  22. MicheleS - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Was at the game.. Team just seemed listless. Not sure why, but I think that contributed to the crowds reaction. I was in the outfield (Section 105 Row A). Our group was into, but agree with JaneB.. crowd was out in LaLa land.

  23. MicheleS - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    NatsJack.. agree that LannEn's start was quality, when you struggle through that effort and only give up 3, that's pretty darn good.. Just wish we had some offense for support… As always, the bullpen held up.. (I groaned when Yunesky came in).I think our entire pitching staff should sue the position players for non support

  24. LoveDaNats - Sep 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Why do I have an overwhelming urge to see a Broadway play?

  25. JamesFan - Sep 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Last night was typical John Lannan. He struggled in the early innings, couldn't find the plate, nibbled, couldn't keep the ball down got out of trouble occasionally. He was not crisp in a start in which he needed to show his stuff. Recall that in his previous start he was booed off the field at home when he gave up seven straight hits to the Astros. Also recall that two years ago some people were referring to him as the "ace" of the staff and I think he started opening day twice. How far we have come. I think it is time for a change of scenary for JL. He is a throwback to a Nats time I would as soon forget.

  26. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 17, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    MicheleS…..when you can't throw first pitch strikes, go 2-0 on at least 2 hitters every inning… have an elevated pitch count by the end of the 2nd inning….AND gve up 8 hits through 5 innings… you're not getting a quality start… no matter what the score.And he's been this way for his last 5 or 6 starts.

  27. Grandstander - Sep 17, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Quality Starts are obviously a terrible statistic, but I don't think it deserves the blind hatred it receives from people. Anyone who complains about QS and then starts talking about a pitcher's W-L record…If you go 6 innings and give up 3 runs or less, you've put your team in a position to win. Even though Lannan looked terrible, he did put the Nats in a position to win the game. It was the offense that crapped the bed.No matter, tonight's Stras and half-price beer, that's enough to put some more butts in seats. Still curious what the crowd will be like Sunday with the fish in town and the Skins playing down the street.

  28. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 17, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Now on the flipside….. Javier Vasquez has been one of the best pitchers in the NL since about June 1st. We should have expected a tough night at the plate with him on the mound.

  29. Gonat - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    NatsLady said… Not a "masterpiece," Davey? No. ________________________Good one!

  30. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Quality start really isnt such a bad stat — except for its name. If if was called "acceptable start" or "decent start" or "okay start" it would be just fine. You could savd "quality start" for agame where the starter pitched 6 or more with an era of 3 or lower, or something like that.But it's no worse than "save" or "win", is it? Clip doesnt get a save when he comes into a one run game in the 7th or 8th and gets out of a jam, but storen gets a save for pitching the 9th with a 3run lead. Who really "saved" that win? And wins are just as bad,, especially for relief pitchers.So i wouldnt dump too much on quality start.

  31. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Grandstander – Exactly right about the 'quality start'. Any outing where the starting pitcher can go 6 (or more) innings while allowing three runs has thrown a game which gives his team at least a 50% chance of winning. That's worth some kind of mention. Calling it a 'Quality' start might be a misnomer, but it does give the pitcher a statistical marker for keeping the opponent close, and serves much the same purpose as the 'hold' does for relievers.

  32. MicheleS - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    I have now officially switched if from "Quality" Start to "Decent" Start..He only gave up 3 runs- which was my point. The position players offered zero support – our continuing complaint about the lack of offense.Can we please get a win tonight! I am sure the crowd will be into it, since they will be lubed up on "Halfway to St.Patty's day" promotions.

  33. baseballswami - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    Kind of sad that we've gotten to the point where we flog the pitchers for not being perfect. On any give night the offense should be able to handle a 3 spot. It's the hitting – the pitchers have been pretty darn good this year. If I had the time, which I don't – I would love to see what our record would be if every game where our pitching staff only gave up 3 or less was a win. I am guessing it would be better? Last night it would not have mattered how many he gave up.

  34. MicheleS - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Swammi.. at the game last night, my group was speculating on what our record would be if the team BA was at .250 – we figured we would finish at around .500 or a little higher.. maybe in contention for WC…Sigh

  35. Get Some Players - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Someone called in to Nats Talk this morning and suggested moving Lombardozzi to CF. Sounded interesting to both hosts. Comments?

  36. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    NatsJack: That's why the Marlins picked up Vasquez last year – to be the solid, inning-eating SP down the stretch. He's doing his part, but things didn't quite work out the way Loria wanted this year (chuckle). Here's hoping that Loria turns into the equivalent to Marge Schott with CIN; A tight-fisted, ham-handed owner that interferes with the running of the team to a point where they become an afterthought in the NL East.

  37. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    swammi: Just based on the quality start count for SP's this season (68), the team would actually lose a bit of ground (71 actual wins). Drilling down to the individual games to sort out QS losses would be a little more navel-gazing than I'd like to do personally, but could be interesting. I'd imagine a majority of them would be shutouts from the opposition. As always, it boils down to the fact that good pitching keeps you in games, but good hitting wins them.

  38. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Didn't HRod get a "hold" the other day when he came in and walked 3 guys?

  39. CBinDC - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    If this Organization is really trying to end the the Culture of Losing …THEN WHY WAS THE GREAT 8 IN BALTIMORE LAST NIGHT ……the only true superstar around here and the only team that wins year in and year out (if only the Nats could have the problem of PLAYOFF DISAPPOINTMENTS) …So he is in Baltimore throwing out the first pitch and no one with the Nationals is not angry at Ted for allowing that to happen ….why was he not doing it here last night…..really you not get the best player in your city to come to your games !!!!!!!

  40. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Get Some @12.38: Moving Lombardozzi to CF would be counter to the individual player's strengths, imo. A CF should ideally have defensive range / speed, and a dominant voice (controls the OF verbally). Lombardozzi posseses neither of those particular traits, but Desmond has both in spades. I'll mount my soapbox once more in my personal quest to see Desmond moved to CF for the Nationals, with a keystone combo of Espinosa at SS & Lombardozzi at 2B for 2012. Each player would be a solid fit on defense, and possibly cover some weaknesses on offense as well (Desmond / Lombardozzi at either leadoff or 8th, depending on SP, w/Espinosa 6th regardless). Espinosa & Lombardozzi are both more sure-handed on ground balls & DP's than Desmond will ever be, but Desmond has the best quickness/range of the three. Play to your strengths.

  41. baseballswami - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    It seems that we have been bitten before by playing people where they don't have experience and it's not natural to them. Even though they are professional baseball players, they can't just excel at a new position immediately ( Morse did the best I have ever seen at first). Staying in the infield, like Danny did was better – but moving infield/outfield, etc. just is going to take a while and maybe never be all that good. It takes years of reps to be good at a position. Ankiel is still learning to play the outfield and hit – his arm is what has kept him in line-ups — and that arm strength came from being a pitcher for years.

  42. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    CBinDC: You're raking the organization based on who they signup to throw the 1st pitch? Really?? That's some incredibly weak sauce to bring to the table, imo.

  43. Dave - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    I'm at Picnic in the Park. Attendance is embarrassingly sparse. I've been to this before, and it had some buzz. This one has very little buzz. Two basic mistakes the Nats made, in my opinion:1. They required a game ticket to get in this afternoon. Believe me, they would've had no trouble at all clearing the park before the game. There's only several hundred people here. Maybe a couple hundred. 2. They scheduled it in mid-September. It's cool and drizzly, and school activities have started up again. It used to be in August. Why the change?Bummer.

  44. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Picnic in the Park is a joke. Only maybe 150 or 200 people here. Why did the Nationals schedule this event in September??????

  45. CBinDC - Sep 17, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    I am racking them because it is so simple yet they miss these time and time again …..their radio station refuses to cover them outside the game broadcasts and when they do it is in a snarky and bile manner …..this is fact ..and any organization would be all over these measures and others to address them …NOT THIS GROUP …..more often they dismiss the complaints or ignore them …but when they get more coverage on the other station that Mark does great job BTW … have a problem that needs to be addressed or the world will still slur you and dismiss you and the team will be seen as the Strasburg All-Stars instead of the Nationals …..this picnic is again another example ….it is a Losing Organization that can not get their own fans up for free food.

  46. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    swammi: MLB is littered with players who started at one position & moved to another for continued success. All the Nationals need to do is have the stones to try it out in Viera; Re-sign Ankiel as a 4th OF, but make an initial committment to Desmond in CF, Espinosa at SS & Lombardozzi at 2B early in Spring Training & see how it plays. If somebody stumbles, make the adjustment. That's all I'm asking for.

  47. Drew8 - Sep 17, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    And in an aside, your Johnny Damon update:He ties Dave Parker for 60th with 2,712 hits.He passes 400 stolen bases and is tied at 67th with Frank Chance at 403.He ties Edgar for 44th all time with 514 doubles. How many is that? Well here's who's on the horizon: Mays at 523; Junior at 524; T. Ballgame at 525…Just sayin' he's amassing a serious body of work.

  48. BinM - Sep 17, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    CBinDC: I'm also irratated that the likes of Lavar & Dukes gets PM drive priority over the Nationals broadcast on the FM side, but let's face facts – Snyder's NFL franchise is the 1200lb gorilla in this market, regardless of the radio/TV station or news outlet, based on history alone. MLB was missing in action in DC from 1971-2005, and has become a tertiary selling point for listeners, in the programmer's / station GM's minds at least. After 30+ years in the wilderness, any mention, however snarky it might be is still news. Be glad this wasn't the Boston/NY media when the Bowden/Dominican problems came to light. They'll all jump onto the Nationals' bandwagon at some point; It's simply a question of when.

  49. dryw - Sep 17, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Dave, I really wanted to go to Picnic and I did have tickets for the game. If they'd allowed me to flash my ticket, go in for the event, go home for a while, and come back for the game, I would've been there. But on a cold September day with my non-fan brother in for the weekend, I couldn't see hanging around from 4-7 doing nothing. (And I don't like beer, so the Nats wouldn't even have made any money off of me…) Very, very poor decision on the Nats' part, as I know that I'm not the only one who stayed away because of this.

  50. Andrew - Sep 17, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    dryw, I am with you. I will be at the game tonight and didn't want to be there all day and night.

  51. Dave - Sep 17, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    @dryw, @Andrew, I think you hit the nail on the head. I didn't have tonight's game in my ticket-plan share (I'm going tomorrow), so I had to buy a $10 cheapie to get in. I'm a bit resentful of that, but as I was leaving, I realized that a ticket-holder was actually expected to come at 12:00 noon and stay inside the ballpark all day long to attend a 7:05 game against the Marlins. Sheer insanity!In my opinion, the logistical planning of this event almost guaranteed that hardly anybody would show up. And that's what happened. I arrived in time for the q&a with "upcoming stars"–Lombo, Peacock, and Milone, hosted by Ray Knight. When the event started, there were FOUR people there, me and a party of three in front of me. I made up a question to ask, just so there wouldn't be an awkward silence at the start. I have cut the Nats a lot of slack over the past seven years, but this wad such an epic fail that I actually felt insulted.

  52. Dave - Sep 17, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    This was such a wad of failure that it was a bummer. Y'all know what I mean.

  53. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    They scheduled it in mid-September. It's cool and drizzly, and school activities have started up again. It used to be in August. Why the change?Perhaps because there was only one weekend home series in August and it was against the Phillies?

  54. Anonymous - Sep 17, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    I'll mount my soapbox once more in my personal quest to see Desmond moved to CF for the Nationals, with a keystone combo of Espinosa at SS & Lombardozzi at 2B for 2012. Each player would be a solid fit on defenseRemember when Riggleman put Desmond in left field? How'd that one work out? As I recall, only slightly better than when he put Guzman in left.

  55. Dave - Sep 17, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    @4:10: Then do it in July, for God's sake! They did that the first couple years and it worked. Or don't even do it at all. Today had to be a deep embarrassment for everyone involved.





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