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Dominant but not satisfied with losing

Sep 18, 2011, 4:19 AM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg dominated for six innings but wound up with another no-decision.

He blew away one of baseball’s best young sluggers with a 99 mph fastball. He displayed remarkable efficiency that allowed him to complete six innings on a mere 61 pitches. And his command of the strike zone was dazzling, resulting in yet another walk-free outing.

Stephen Strasburg had every right Saturday night to stand before reporters and cameras and gloat about his triumphant return from Tommy John surgery. Yet the right-hander’s postgame demeanor — terse and unemotional — suggested a level of disgust that didn’t jibe with his earlier dominance on the mound.

Why? Because the Nationals ultimately lost another game to the Marlins, this one by a 4-1 count in 13 innings.

Competitor that he is, Strasburg wasn’t about to pat himself on the back inside a clubhouse of otherwise frustrated teammates.

“It felt good out there,” he said. “Unfortunately, we battled hard and they just got the best of us, so it was a tough game.”

Sure, the only stat that truly counts from Saturday’s game was the final score, the latest in a ever-growing list of losses to the Marlins. When reliever Collin Balester surrendered three runs in the top of the 13th, the Nationals dropped their second straight to Florida and fell
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  1. Mick - Sep 18, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    OK, so I am little drunk right now and pissed off at Danny O'Brien and the Nats, what a crap day!I am so sick of this crap, after 5 straight wins, coming home playing a last place team in front of two great crowds and the team hits like sissies. Davey is so bad and has no clue on when to pull a pitcher. Jason WerthLESS is the Nats Denny McClain deal 40 years later. I can not believe Phil Wood (who I respect a lot) is willing to give Werth a pass on this season. Werth earns $125 million1! and has a record number of called third strikes and hits a lousy 230. He gets no pass from me and I hope Nats fans boo the hell out of him every time he takes a called third strike. I could deal with this if oit was the Braves or Phillies we were playing at home, not the Marlins. The only positive is Srassburg who will break Dick Bosman's record of losing 1-0 games here unless we get rid of the garbage who can not hit in this lineup against last place pitching.

  2. Grandstander - Sep 18, 2011 at 4:44 AM

    Several thoughts going through my head after that game. First, Stras looks pretty good. He definitely had some shaky moments, but unlike a lot of our pitchers, he was able to throw strikes when he needed to.Volstad looked really good too, better than he should have looked, but he was able to drop some nasty breaking balls in for strikes. But that being said, the offense tonight was absolutely pathetic. There's no excuse for some of the stuff that happened. There's no heart left on this team right now, that's for sure.Finally, this game had to have been the absolute worst crowd of the year. I really hope this city learns how to conduct itself during ballgames, but if this is a harbinger of things to come, I almost wish this team failure. A packed house of no one paying attention to the actual game, standing up during at bats to take pictures, screaming any time someone makes contact and just generally being loud and obnoxious. It was like being in Philly but with no one knowing anything about baseball, just going because it was something to do that night. Terrible.

  3. Mick - Sep 18, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    Grandstand: there were over 32,000 who showed up, not bad fora team under 500 playing in September. Over 55,000 the past two nights. Don't blame the fans, maybe they had it with 1 run in 23 innings!!!

  4. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2011 at 5:03 AM

    Grandstander, where were you sitting? Other than the wave–which they only did in extra innings, after all–that stuff wasn't going on near me. Saturday night is usually party night, that seems to be encouraged by Nats management. If Nationals Park is "the place to be," how is that bad? It wasn't what I would call a packed house, just a good-size crowd, but not the most I've seen on Saturday night. Lots of people come to the Park to party with friends (see Chicago Cubs, The).I was surprised as many stayed as long as they did.As for behavior, with half-price beer, what could you expect?That said, this was a supremely aggravating game. I know people love Morse, and I know he had two hits, but it just blew all the air out of the balloon when he GIDP on the first pitch after RZimm got the intentional walk. Maybe that was the point Davey gave up on the game and decided to leave Balester in there forEVER.

  5. Grandstander - Sep 18, 2011 at 5:44 AM

    I was in my normal section, 130. It could've just been the people around me, but the frat boys yelling about their skiing trip behind me, the kids yelling and eating everything in sight in front of me, and the guy next to me talking about how Strasburg was throwing too slow (when he was throwing breaking balls) kinda shook my confidence in the intelligence of the crowd. I guess I'm spoiled, getting to enjoy good seats in relative peace, but if you feel the need to take 100 pictures of yourself standing in front of the plate, I'm going to call you out. I'm trying to watch the damn game, sit the F down.

  6. Drew8 - Sep 18, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    Strasburg lowered his career ERA to 2.63 and dropped his career WHIP to 1.00.Then the mortals took over.

  7. Drew8 - Sep 18, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    For an on-field comparison, here's how tight a ship they're running in Philadelphia:Their pitchers lead the league with a 3.00 team ERA, with 480 runs allowed and with 453 earned runs. Their team has allowed only 27 unearned runs all year.The Nats' 3.68 team ERA ranks 7th. They have allowed 611 runs — 546 earned and 65 unearned.

  8. Cwj - Sep 18, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    Were the fans really that bad? I'm curious because I was just watching on tv. Were they obnoxious or just annoying?

  9. Cwj - Sep 18, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    Drew8- To split it further, the Nats starters have an ERA of 3.95 (NL average is 3.97; MLB is 4.07)The relievers, a 5th best in MLB at 3.19

  10. Drew8 - Sep 18, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    Any way you slice it, it's been a lousy offensive year. Heading into Saturday night, the Nats' offense ranked:12th of 16 NL teams with 577 runs, 45 below the league average of 622.12th of 16 NL teams with a .311 on base percentage, compared with the NL average of .319.11th of 16 NL teams with a slugging percentage of .384; the NL league average is .391.12th of 16 NL teams with 443 walks.15th of 16 NL teams with 1,221 strikeouts.15th of 16 NL teams with 30 sacrifice flies.15th of 16 NL teams with a pinch-hitter batting average of .183.Oh — the Nats are leading the league in one offensive category. They've been hit by pitches 62 times. Yippeeeeeee!(On discouraging nights like this I want them to go get Prince Fielder, B.J. Upton AND Carlos Quentin. Grumble, grumble….)

  11. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    Been there the last 2 nights. The first base coach has to go. He has cost us at least three times–or else the runners are ignoring him. I have to think that if Bo had been at first, we'd have had at least three fewer stupid outs that could easily have given runs. Danny's single (out at 2nd), Desi's turn/pickoff and a couple of other pickoffs.

  12. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    1 run in 22 innings. Please end it and put us all out of our misery. NATS STINK

  13. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    My sympathies, Grandstander. Sounds as though perhaps your seatmates may have been Strasburg fans rather than baseball fans. Maybe they were also disappointed that he didn't strike out more hitters. (Because, really, how lame is that to get quick outs and be able to pitch deeper into the game? Heh.)Hey, I have an idea. Ya know how the Nats have that Baseball for Women class? (Now called Baseball 101 but still geared to women, I believe. But I digress.) Maybe they could offer a Baseball for Strasburg Fans class and give them a few pointers on watching the game. You're welcome, Nats marketing gurus. :-)

  14. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Grandstander I feel your pain. Have you been to a redskins game lately? That place is nothing but a drunk fest. All people do is eat and drink and walk around. They have no idea what the F is going on. I hate it. And yet I am there every game. So who is the true fool?

  15. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Drew8 said…15th of 16 NL teams with 1,221 strikeouts.I hear you, and thought I would look at the "plate discipline" category in Fangraphs.The Cardinals have the best OBP in the NL (.339 vs. Nats .310). They also have the best BA and tied for best SLG.K%: Cards 15.8 Nats 21.6Swings on balls out of the zone Cards 29.4% Nats 31.8%Swings and Misses at strikesCards 7.8% Nats 9.3%Contact %Cards 82.7% Nats 79.2%On taking first pitch strikes, the teams are about about the same.I know this is obvious, but the Nats are swinging at too many pitches out of the zone, and not making enough contact when the pitches are in the zone.

  17. Mick - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Drew8's stats are a killer. That says it all.

  18. dryw - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Hey 1a, do you think that class could include radical concepts like waiting until the end of an at-bat to head for the concessions and NO WAVE DURING TENSE MOMENTS IN THE GAME? If so, I'm on board. In fact, I'd even teach the darn thing.If anyone was reading the welcome messages on the scoreboard last night, Stopthewave.org, DC Chapter was my little STH group. :-)

  19. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Strasburg better learned to suck it up, as the Dibbs said, because he pitches for a team that Rizzo has stocked with hitless wonders. I'm sure Jordan Zimmerman must have alerted him to this mess. Rizzo is ignorant of the fact that a team needs to score a few runs to win a game.

  20. Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Grandstander, I'm not surprised by what you described around you. I've sat in 130 frequently with Red Carpet tickets and it's usually half-empty, so this was obviously(as others wrote) a Strasburg crowd. Bunch of times early in the game there was no attention to Nats' potential rallies — could have been between innings for all the noise they made. OTOH the crowd around me was knowledgeable but mostly too quiet for my taste, as always. Only around the June winning streak were they a crowd that would cheer FOR rallies and not just when runs actually scored (thinking of the Tuesday night 6 run rally vs the Cards). Maybe as Nats Lady said, they become Nats fans if they keep coming back — and the team didn't give them much to cheer for or reason to come back other than Strasburg. Anon at 2:42, it's ridiculous to blame stupid baserunning errors on the coach — those are instant players' decisions and bad judgment by young players (Espy), typical brain farts (Berni getting POd — remember his game-ending PO at 2d against the Mets? Maybe he's just a AAAA player), or a marginal call (against Desi, looked to me as if he just shaded slightly off the line to see where the ball went).What galls me is their total inability to hit sac flies (what, five of them all year?). They've left several game-deciding runs on the table this year because of the simple inability to hit a typical fly ball OUT. No excuses for that. But what I have noticed as the season wore on is a noticeable inability to get fair ump-ing. Partly that's lack of respect for not winning but it's gotten extreme. Last night against an even worse team there were at least 8 pitches by the Fish (not limited to Volstad) a good six inches off the plate that were called strikes, to maybe at most one for the Nats.I've regularly seen those kinds of bad calls disproportionately against the Nats, especially re strike zone, that I'm beginning to wonder if it's not Bud Selig's way of punishing the Nats for the Lerners repeated over-slot signings. May sound paranoid but would you really put it past Bud and some of the more useless crew chiefs (Joe West and Angel Hernandez, anyone?) Obviously that's not an excuse for lack of clutch hitting — they had a loss earlier this month where they got 12 or 13 hits (vs 9 for the Mets?). But it is something that would explain some of their ineffectual free-swinging at times like last night. Especially for the younger players, if you have no idea what's gonna be called a strike, you'd better protect a huge strike zone. Still doesn't explain or excuse first pitch rally-killing GIDPs.

  21. Bups - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Grandstander, Vote with your wallet as I did. If you want to watch the Hitless Wonders, turn on your flat screen TV and enjoy the game in HD. You avoid the animals and the cell phone addicts. Your view of the game is better. The weather is better, there are no commuting problems, you don't clog your arteries with ball park garbage and you save lots of money. Best yet, when the game turns crappy, you can shut it off. Try it!

  22. Gonat - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Drew8, now compare the Nats offense to the SF Giants and the Atlanta Braves. Where the Nats have to improve is OBP and RBIs so you need a great table-setter at leadoff and then clutch guys behind them.I think when you add LaRoche back to the lineup with a .340 OBP guy at leadoff, it will transform the team.Mick, I was at the Terps and then the Nats game last night so I had a bad day also.

  23. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    The lack of sac flies is REALLY noticeable, especially when other teams seem to accomplish that feat often. Agree it's a little silly to lay blame on the first base coach–in fact, I'm not sure how useful that position is at all. What runner is even looking at the first base coach, or should be? These kinds of errors (secondary leads, turns around first, running out of basepaths) should be drilled out of young players in practice. The third base coach is the one who makes many more in-game decisions and signals. I remember Bo Porter being criticized this spring for sending or not sending runners, but either he's improved or we haven't had many runners to send…Re: Saturday night crowds. You get the bodies in the seats by promotions, etc. After that, the team has to perform. I remember a warm Saturday night with a close to sellout crowd and the Nats won an exciting game–and I thought, that'll bring 'em back, good times. Last night, not so much.They were into the game for more than Stras (booing when RZimm got walked, on their feet for Morse, excited by Desi's leaps). But Morse's GIDP combined with Bally being left in for one inning too long took all the fight out of the crowd.Usually even after a Nats loss there is sort of a chatty acceptance. Last night the crowd leaving was silent and sullen.

  24. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Nicely done, Drew8.

  25. Big Cat - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Was at a party, but ManassasNatsFan was texting me. 1-1 in the 12th. I just shook my head. Ecks boys were pounding the ball again. Then I heard Balester was in and I knew it was over. To his credit, he did give us 2 scoreless before the ceiling caved in. Oh well, maybe the Skins can make up for it today

  26. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    If things go as planned, I should have two extra pretty good tickets today (one in sec 225, one in sec 133). Anyone going who wants to upgrade, tweet me, we can meet either before the game or inside the gate and I'll pass them along. @Natslady

  27. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Will be out and about during today's game as well but have set the DVR to record. Here's hoping that our guys can at least salvage a win and avoid a you-know-what at the hands (fins?) of the fish.

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