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Nats can’t execute during frustrating loss

May 19, 2012, 4:45 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ryan Zimmerman can only watch as Nick Markakis rounds the bases in the 11th.

They'd been in this situation plenty of times already this season, locked into a tense, low-scoring affair that would be decided by one big hit.

"We've played a million one-run games," Ryan Zimmerman said. "So it's not really anything big."

And yet after watching the Nationals fail at the plate on several occasions during Friday night's 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Orioles, it would be easy to question whether this lineup was getting caught up in the moment and trying too hard to make something happen.

There were just too many instances of poor execution, whether in the form of fouled-off bunt attempts, a botched hit-and-run or watching strike three whisk by right down the heart of the plate to think otherwise.

"We get in that situation, and we get a little over-anxious," manager Davey Johnson said. "Just trying too hard, the way I figure it, and notRead more »

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. John - May 19, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    C'mon, Danny. Unless your name is Josh Hamilton or Prince Fielder, you're expected to move the runner over. Just admit you blew the bunt and start acting like a professional. Lame excuses don't wear well on a .200 hitter.

  2. Eugene in Oregon - May 19, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - May 19, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Watched the game through the fourth inning, then had to go out to dinner, then returned and watched the rest of the game on replay. 'Frustrating loss' doesn't begin to express how aggravating that was. Then read through the in-game and 'instant analysis' threads and agree completely with those who defended the pitching staff; you simply can't blame anyone on the staff when they combined to allow only two runs in 11 innings to a high-scoring offense. Ryan Mattheus may have given up a home run, but his ERA remains under 3.00; HRs are going to happen and the O's are averaging better than two per game.Like a lot of games this year, this one was lost by the lack of run support. Period.In looking at the NL stats, I was intrigued to see that the Nats are:– Tied for fourth in the NL in doubles and are fifth in HRs;– Seventh in the league in drawing walks and in total extra-base hits (very few triples brought this down); — Fourth best in the league in not grounding into double plays (that one surprised me);– Tenth or eleventh in the NL in AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS (clearly not great, but not 'bottom of the barrel' either); but– 14th in runs scored (only the Pirates and Padres average fewer runs/game) — which is getting into 'bottom of the barrel' range.Why? One explanation is they're third in the NL in strikeouts, with 322. Another is that they're last in the league both the percentage of base runners who've scored and 14th in getting runners in from third with fewer than two outs (as F&I correctly pointed out yesterday). And as we saw tonight, they really don't execute sacrifice bunts very well (tied for 12th).I've always scoffed a bit at the notion of 'situational hitting'; I remain largely convinced that individual hitters tend to produce pretty close to their career norms regardless of the situation. 'Situational hitting' to me was largely an illusion (i.e., you remember the walk-off hits more than you do the sixth inning hits in a similar situation, but they all come in roughly the same proportions, more-or-less randomly distributed throughout the game and the season; ditto strikeouts and GIDPs). But these Nats seem dead set on shaking my faith in the essential (and fundamental) randomness of the universe. I'm still agnostic on the question of whether to blame the individual players or the hitting coach. Or whether what we're seeing is just more randomness. But I am regretting that the Nats didn't acquire one additional 'professional hitter' during the offseason. And I bet some of the Nats pitchers feel the same way.

  4. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Very nice post, Oregon. Also good on Ejax for the hit-and-run comment. Not sure why Davey didn't have him bunt, but I guess he was trying to mix things up and surprise the defense when he had a good-hitting pitcher up there.

  5. natsfan1a - May 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Haven't yet read the game posts or thread but agree with Eugene that the loss was on the (Nats) batters. If and when you get 'em on, you gotta get 'em over.

  6. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    NatsLady said… Very nice post, Oregon. Also good on Ejax for the hit-and-run comment. Not sure why Davey didn't have him bunt, but I guess he was trying to mix things up and surprise the defense when he had a good-hitting pitcher up there. May 19, 2012 6:28 AM ___________________________A hit and run is a low percentage play. The percentage goes up with a skilled batter. If the batter whiffs at the pitch, you better have a fast runner on base to possibly get a straight steal out of it.The Nats had none of those 2 elements I mentioned making it a ridiculous attempt that failed miserably. The bunt was the move to make. Get the runner to 2nd so Desi or Bernadina can knock him in.Just a series of some of the most bizarre plays I think I have seen.

  7. Water23 - May 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    1a:I dislike piling on but this has been said by many and bears repeating this season the pitching is definitely competent probably superior and possibly elite (which is a change from past) and should remain so for the duration. Which then means, the success or failure of the Nats this season rests on the bats of the hitters. So, how do you improve the hitting by a bunch of mashers? Well, I love Espy and he may just be in part of his sophomore slump but the way this team is constructed inserting Lombo with his higher OBP seems one of the few ways to balance out the top of the order and provide additional runners on base. Yes, HRs are nice but unless you are the Yanks, Rangers, the old BoSox/Phils you need to apply pressure in various ways. Having runners on base is one additional way to do that.

  8. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    "I made a bad pitch," Mattheus said of his 2-2 slider down and in to Markakis. "He's a good hitter, and that's what good hitters do with bad pitches."_______________________________A stand-up guy. One of the few who stood up and took it. It wasn't a horrible pitch if it was the 1st thru 6th innings in a tie game.I say that as you can obviously challenge early in the game in a 2 strike count. In the later innings, you have to play the percentages which is don't give a pull power hitter anything inside and up that he can jack out for a HR. On the pitch before that, Mattheus just missed on the 1-2 to make it 2-2. Go back to that spot and bring it back to the black but change his eye level. http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation_io.php-pitchSel=458919&game=gid_2012_05_18_balmlb_wasmlb_1&batterX=74&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3.gif

  9. NatsNut - May 19, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Man, that hit and run was something else. Just wow. I've joked about this before, but JJ Hardy was freakin' lounging in his club chair in a smoking jacket waiting for Flores to get there. I was embarrassed for everyone. Oh well. If it worked it would have been a highlight for years.

  10. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    NatsNut said… Oh well. If it worked it would have been a highlight for years. May 19, 2012 7:47 AM _______________________________Very true and thats how this game works. It was like Davey early in the season bringing in Chad Tracy as a pinch-hitter in a lefty/lefty matchup since the lefty was already in the game. Well it worked and that was the beginning of Davey looking like the unconventional genius.For the last 20 games, everything unconventional he does has backfired on him….and that is how baseball works. The laws of percentages and luck will even out and sound baseball moves will always prevail in their correct percentages. Hit & run is the lowest percentage to move up a baserunner.On Desi in the 11th, poor job on attempting to bunt. Great job on driving that ball down the line. Unlucky the 1st baseman hadn't moved from the line which then turned into an easy double play. I know people are blaming him for that double play. At least he didn't try to bunt with 2 strikes!

  11. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Since we are on the subject of Davey Johnson and the Orioles and his former Manager Earl Weaver. Here is what Earl said about the dreaded Hit & Run:I don’t have a hit-and-run sign, and I believe it’s the worst play in baseball… you often give the opposition an out on the hit-and-run play. That’s because you can’t trust the pitcher to throw a strike, so the hitter is often waving weakly at a ball that’s off the plate. That usually results in a weak grounder that gets the runner to second, but the hitter is easily retired at first. Hell, you may as well bunt! Over the course of the season, only a few guys actually get hits on the hit-and-run play, because everything must go right for it to work. About the only thing you can say for the hit-and-run is that it prevents the double-play grounder. But when you add up the caught stealing, the weak grounders, and the line-drive double plays, that advantage vanishes. I’ll take my chances with a normal swing anytime.

  12. PChuck - May 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Davey Johnson has said or it has been reported that he doesn't like small ball so it's not surprising that this team is so fundamentally unsound.Davey has infected the team with his constant and frequently unwise pursuit of the long ball.

  13. natscan reduxit - May 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    … sometimes there are good hitting coaches on bad teams; sometimes the reverese is true. Almost always there is a good hitting coach on a good team. But when a team – like the Nats of 2012 – can boast so much hitting potential in the lineup, and that potential is matched with a poor hitting coach to the extent that the potential is wasted, … well, that borders on criminal.Go Nats!!

  14. Unknown - May 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Has Mark ever done an article comparing hitting coaches in The Show? I'd like to see it. What's the metric for "good hitting coaches" that natscan reduxit seems to think can be found, other than high team BA? Can "good" be measured? Should the hitting coach get credit/blame for a high/low team BA? Especially, what input do professional hitters at that level need? And what do rookies in The Show like Espi need vs. vets like Zimm? Eckstein seems hard working and analytical — is there a benchmark?Richard

  15. natsfan1a - May 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Not sure, but he may have had a snifter of brandy as well. :-)NatsNut said… Man, that hit and run was something else. Just wow. I've joked about this before, but JJ Hardy was freakin' lounging in his club chair in a smoking jacket waiting for Flores to get there. I was embarrassed for everyone. Oh well. If it worked it would have been a highlight for years. May 19, 2012 7:47 AM

  16. hiramhover - May 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    EugeneGreat comment. As I recall, Nate Silver had an article in which he argued that "clutch" hitting is mostly–but not entirely–an illusion. A lot of it is based on random variation and selective memory, but there are some hitters who have a good eye and an ability to control an AB that serve them well in clutch situations. Suffice it to say, the Nats don't have many hitters like that.As for Davey's professed dislike of small ball: there are a lot of times when the sacrifice bunt is a poor play, but some in which it's a good one, such as the one the Nats faced twice last night–runner(s) on, no outs in the bottom half of a tied or 1-run extra innings home game. On the other hand, Desi did such a lousy job trying that maybe the smarter choice would have been to have him just swing away–he's clearly not a clutch hitter in the above sense.

  17. baseballswami - May 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    So we are calling out a pitcher for not executing a hit and run and ALR, who has been our rock? Not once this season will you ever hear the manager take any responsibility for anything. Yes, there was poor execution, but in keeping with his philosophy which calls for hitting home runs, not sacrificing. Their at-bats reflect his philosophy – you can see it . Go for the long ball. Earlier in the season we squeaked out some wins when the other team failed late in the game. We rarely dominate anyone. When the opposing team's bullpen does not fail then we don't overcome it. Offense looked particularly bad last night after a few better games. Who will we tip our cap to today as an excuse?

  18. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Hiram had the right idea with Desi but since you didn't quote stats, I will. With men on 1st and less than 2 outs, Desi before last night was batting .368. That's his highest percentage of any situational hitting compared to batting only .250 when runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs. Still, the worse part was Strop couldn't throw a strike. It is never Bunt at all cost unless its a suicide squeeze.

  19. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Other than the low percentage and bizarre hit & run, it was some of the worst execution I have seen especially in crunch time. Davey isn't holding the bat. Where is the accountibility? Espi didn't sound like he wanted any blame, just more of his excuses. Surprised he didn't blame the batters eye or the wave for his 0-3 and 2 K's.Ankiel was 0-4 with a K with runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs.

  20. Drew - May 19, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    This is the Nats' third loss in which their pitchers allowed only two runs (also April 26 in San Diego and April 29 in L.A.)One of life's mysteries is how the great Bob Gibson lost 9 games in 1968 when he had a 1.12 ERA. Sometimes, when watching our boys, I begin to understand.Oh well. Let's get 'em tonight. GYFNG!

  21. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    baseballswami said… So we are calling out a pitcher for not executing a hit and run and ALR, who has been our rock? May 19, 2012 8:50 AM _____________________________________I don't see anyone blaming either of them. EJax shouldn't have been bunting and ALR had an off night. Steve said it right, execution and accountability. Where is it?

  22. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    I don't blame Davey for putting on the hit-and-run. You do stuff like that sometimes just to let the opposition know you can, especially when the infield is set up expecting the bunt–and I've seen Ejax fail on bunts before.So, OK, Mannassas, 2-5% on the pitching staff for the first inning, the Mattheus dinger, and Ejax not advancing the runner. I'll take a pitching staff that gives you a 95-98% chance to win the game every day of the week, and twice for Friday double-headers. And Danny-boy, I'm a big supporter, but if bunting ML pitches is too hard for you…

  23. phil dunton - May 19, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    As long as Eckstein is around, nothing is going to change because this teams problems are all about hitting, clutch hitting, working the count, adjusting to opponent pitchers and bunting.

  24. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Ankiel is Ankiel. Davey doesn't even bother to give him the bunt sign. He's out there to prevent runs, and every once in a while have a good day at the plate.

  25. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Come on, folks. I was at the game last night and we were Keystone Cops equivilent at the plate, but blaming DJ is pretty lame. Starting LF and clean up hitter: DL. Starting RF and team inspiration:DL Starting Catcher :DLStar Closer:DL 2nd Choice Closer: DLFace of the Franchise, and hitting star 3B; Off of DL but mired in a slumpStarting 2B : What's the word for beyond and below "Slump'? [Was lucky he didn't get called out for swinging at the pitch that hit him last night]Johnson's managing is akin to fighting with one arm tied behind your back. My only major complaint is his blindly sticking with Danny Espinosa every night. Danny is suffering from a lower self confidence level at the plate then HRod in a one run save situation. He keeps swing at junk out of the strike zone, yet watches waist high fastballs down the middle for strikes. He's talking to himself by now, and is reduced to a puddle of poop. It's time to sit him down.

  26. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    He keeps swinging at junk. [typo:Joe].

  27. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Drew said… One of life's mysteries is how the great Bob Gibson lost 9 games in 1968 when he had a 1.12 ERA. Sometimes, when watching our boys, I begin to understand.May 19, 2012 9:10 AM ____________________________Gibson won every game he gave up no runs and lost 3 games in which he gave up 1 run as his team was shutout by other decent pitchers named Drysdale and Gaylord Perry.All of Gibson's other losses came from games when he gave up 2 or more runs.Strangely in Gibson's worst 3 outings of 1968 he got a win and 2 no decisions. Funny how it evens out. Also, 1968 was a year of pitching domination. Denny McLain went 31-6 in that season. Hank Aaron had 29 HRs in 1968. At least in that season he didn't have the same fate as Jordan Zimmermann who gave up no earned runs in a complete game against the Angels last year and lost 1-0.

  28. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    NatsLady, you are continuing to make excuses for them. These men shouldn't be coddled. OK, maybe Harper since he is 19 years old.Kudos to Matteus for saying it how it is.

  29. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Joe, have to agree on both points. Without Morse other people (Werth/LaRoche/Desi) stepped up. Now it seems like LaRoche is expected to win every game.Aren't you supposed to make some effort to get out of the way of a pitch? Lombo had no chance against their Henry, but that was a gift HPB for Espi. Will be at the game tonight. Probably miss the cap giveaway unless my last two students call in absent and I get very lucky with traffic. GO NATS!!!

  30. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Gonat, what excuses? I have no idea what you are talking about. I don't like to boo our players, online or at the park, but looking at my posts, I defended the pitchers and slapped the hitters, including Ankiel (one of my favs) and Danny. If I said ALR probably needs a day off, that's probably because he does. That's not coddling, that's reality.

  31. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    NatsLady, re: excuses, you wrote: 1. Ankiel is Ankiel 2. I don't blame Davey for putting on the hit-and-run.3. And Danny-boy, I'm a big supporter, but if bunting ML pitches is too hard for you…

  32. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    And I didn't say a word about Harper except that he's brought his average to near .250. The Kid doesn't need "coddling" in my book, and he would reject it big-time.

  33. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

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  34. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Espi didn't sound like he wanted any blame, just more of his excuses. Surprised he didn't blame the batters eye or the wave for his 0-3 and 2 K's.May 19, 2012 9:06 ______________________________I just spit out my morning coffee

  35. natsfan1a - May 19, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I didn't interpret them as excuses, NatsLady, fwiw. Now I'm off to run some errands. Very tough loss but try not to devour each other while I'm gone, NI peeps. :-)

  36. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    NatsLady said… Yes, and NONE of those points are EXCUSES. Learn to read. May 19, 2012 9:40 AM _________________________I kind of read tone into all 3 comments and guess I don't get your point on any of the 3 then.Ankiel is Ankiel? The guy is a highly compensated player. Certainly he should be expected to do better than a typical swing & whiff with a runner standing on 3rd and later in the game in a bunt situation his manager should had the faith in him to bunt.On Espi, pathetic execution bunting his bat under the 2nd bunt attempt to pop it up and then to bunt foul in his 3rd attempt, well that's Just beyond belief.On Davey, you say you don't blame him for the hit & run call. OK, there isn't anyone who thinks it was a wise play.

  37. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    They aren't excuses. They are FACTS and OBSERVATIONS. Davey has given up on Ankiel being any more than a run-preventer with an occasional 3/4 day at the plate. Evidence, he didn't even bother to tell him to bunt, just let him swing and get his K's.Danny seems to think ML bunting is too hard. He said so. How do you interpret me repeating that as an "excuse"?Me bit slamming Davey trying the hit-an-run? That's not an excuse for Davey, he's trying anything–wouldn't you? As Ejax pointed out, he's been given the sign by some pretty good managers.I don't think this was Davey's best game, I'd like to know whether Danny bunting with two strikes was his idea or Davey's but I don't fault him for the EJax thing.

  38. Gonat - May 19, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    NatsLady, I just think that it has to be time for accountability and sending a message that continued sub-par performances won't be tolerated, especially where Davey has suitable replacement players. Lombo should start at 2nd and Ankiel to ride the pine.That's accountability to the 2 guys who consistently have not executed.No more excuses, accountability.

  39. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Sorry, should read: Me NOT slamming.Yes, Ankiel is a compensated player. Not a particularly expensive compensated player who was supposed to be ON THE BENCH. $500K more than Tracy and Nady just for his defense, really. He signed on for $1.25 mil (like Livo) so he could play with his buddy Jayson.I didn't say it was a WISE play (the hit-and-run). It's a poker-players' play, like getting caught bluffing. Other managers now know it's in your book even if you never use it again this season.

  40. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    I had a "first" last night at the park. Another ST holder that normally sits next to me gave her tickets to a gal friend. The lady behind us tapped her on the shoulder and requested that she not sit forward in her seat because it blocked her view.Now I've been going to ball games since the late 1950's and have never had anyone request that you shouldn't sit forward in your seat.I somehow kept my mouth shut, but it did induce quite a few giggles in our row through out the game.If by chance the person that made the request is reading this blog I suggest that you and your husband get front row seats.

  41. Swift Eagle - May 19, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Good for you Joe, I would have lost it! Were you allowed to stand and cheer for good plays? AmazingWonder how that fan would do at a game in Phila or NY..

  42. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Gonat, I don't want to get into a pissing match with you, but I didn''t interpret NatsLady's comments and observations as making excuses in any way.I happen to agree with you about Espinosa especially, and though Rick Ankiel has also looked lost at the plate for about two weeks, the O's would have scored at least one run, two different times last night on a lesser center fielder.There's no excuses for his poor judgement at the plate, but unlike Espy, his ineptness has not been for the entire season. If I were an opposing pitcher I would throw him high fastballs , out of the strike zone, until he showed me that he could lay off of them.

  43. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Sorry for intemperate remarks, Gonat made me lose my temper…I don't care much what players say after games (or before them for that matter). I don't listen to the postgame stuff, I switch to another game on MLB.tv. Not to worry, it all gets parsed over on this blog.Accountablity comes on the field. I like what EJax said, I like what Mattheus said, I think Danny should shut up because he's becoming an object of ridicule–even though he's right, it's HARD to hit a major league ball, just ask Albert or Adam Dunn.I repeat, accountability comes on the field. The rest is just noise.

  44. Swift Eagle - May 19, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Right now, opposing Pitchers don't have to throw a strike to get Ankiel, Espi, Berni, Nady, and Flores out. Which is why all of them (other than Danny) where intended to be back-ups or specialistsBut good fans don't boo/trash their teamHopefully the pitching can allow the Nats to play .500 ball for a few more weeks until some regulars get healthy

  45. Faraz Shaikh - May 19, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Ryan Zimmerman (in the picture) is thinking that he should have been rounding the bases in bottom of the ninth.Anyways, we lost because of stupid fans. I know Burnett is not the losing pitcher and fans were not doing the wave when Mathues gave up the HR, but how stupid you have to be to not see that Burnett was clearl uncomfortable pitching with wave going on. I think he recorded him to pitch a single pitch per wave around the stadium.Disappointing loss. Hope to be there today as well.

  46. Eugene in Oregon - May 19, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Joe Seamhead @9:22 asked:"What's the word for beyond and below "Slump'?"———————————————I believe the word you're looking for is 'benched' (or perhaps even 'sent down'). 'Released' is another option in some situations, but probably not applicable in the case you're addressing.

  47. Section 222 - May 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Joe, I'm shocked at your comment. I make that request all the time, and so do other people in my section (314) which is right behind home plate. (Because of that location, in the lower rows, if someone sits forward they put the back of their head right over home plate for the person behind them.) Everyone I've asked is accommodating. All they have to do is sit normally and everyone can see. If they lean forward, I have to sit forward, and then the person behind me has to sit forward and so on. I have season tickets, so I don't have the option of getting front row seats (and besides who wants to sit in the front row behind the plexiglas anyway?). Most normal people don't react with anger (or derision) at someone who makes a courteous request that doesn't interfere at all with their enjoyment of the game.Now, SwiftEagle, of course I don't complain when someone stands and cheers, in fact I'm often the first out of my seat when a good play is made. But do you think you have a right to stand the whole time at a game, blocking the view of the person behind you? Of course not, but that's essentially what you and Joe are suggesting by criticizing someone who nicely asks you to sit back so you both can see.

  48. jeffwx - May 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I did not see the game…was at meetup dinner but was dissapointed with the outcome. Until we get Morse and Werth back, we can take advantage of our strength in pitching and play small ball and win 3.2 runs to 2.It was good to see how our pitching basically shut down one of the leagues best offenses so far.Clearly, the problem was our inability to bunt over the runner esp. from the middle infielders.I hope they are taking extra practice on bunting fundamentals.

  49. jeffwx - May 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    It will be hard to get a rally going with the current holes in the lineup..just too many holes…Bernadina, Espinosa, Ankiel, Flores.Too many holes in our outfield with the injuries.Hope Morse reinvigorates the lineup. Lombo splits playing time with Espi, and Corey Brown gets a chance in June:LomboDesmondZimmALRMorseHarperBrownflores

  50. Traveler8 - May 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    I agree with Section 222 on this, people who sit on the edge of the seat block the view. While at Nats Park they don't give the instruction to sit back in the seat, they do specifically give it at the Caps game. I have asked people more than once to sit back in the seat and they are always accommodating, and I don't think the whole row, or anyone for that matter, has considered it a giggle-worthy point.

  51. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Like I said at some point not executing consistenly (insert photos if Espi and Ankiel), there has to be accountability.I think the statement Ankiel is Ankiel deserves a provocative response after a bad game to a what the bleep does that mean. I don't get what it means. Please explain.

  52. Section 222 - May 19, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Anyways, we lost because of stupid fans. Wow, talk about excuses. I find it fascinating how many knowledgable fans think the wave makes a difference in the game. I'm sure our pitchers have to deal with a lot worse when we are the visitors. And anyway, like loud cheering, who does the wave effect, the batter or the pitcher? As you said, there was no wave when Mattheus was pitching. I don't know about when Zim watched third strikes over the plate, or Ankiel struck out or popped up, ALR went 0-5, or Espi couldn't bunt. I wonder if Davey was distracted by the wave when he made that stupid hit and run call. I guess we should check the videotape.

  53. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Sec 222 first off, we accommodated her without being rude. That said, I sit in the 300 sections and have never been put out by anyone sitting forward. I just adjust if someone sitting down in front of me is blocking my view. Good grief, man, are you saying that there is a definitive way of sitting " normal"?

  54. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    I'm not a very tall guy, so if a tall person sits up straight in front of me, I have to look around them to see the plateIf everyone was just a normal height this wouldn't happen. Like I said, it wasn't me that the request was directed at, but it was the first time I had seen it in over 50 years of going to the games.

  55. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 3:27 PM

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  56. Faraz Shaikh - May 19, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Section 222, I was obviously not saying that fans were the reason. I was pointing out what fans were doing when we could clearly see Burnett was uncomfortable during that wave process. I don't think we should care what visitor's fans try to do, but this is our park. let's play that to our advantage, not disadvantage. that's all.I have a really bad habit about getting up. I always get up if the ball is out of sight on a play. Last night I was sitting behind a big guy so I had to get up again and again. People behind me must have been pissed.

  57. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    So anyway… One thing that puzzled me about last night's game (which I attended… what a beautiful evening and fun crowd-the wave notwithstanding) was the decision to have Desmond bunt with Bernadina on deck, down by a run in the 11th and a seemingly struggling fireballer on the mound. Yeah, you need to execute, but had Desi laid down the bestest ever sacrifice bunt in the history of baseball…. what was step two supposed to be?I generally go out of my way to defend Davey, but I thought that was pretty much Managerial Malpractice. YMMV, although I'd be interested to hear why.

  58. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Faraz, I have no idea whether the wave actually distracts MLB players, but good heavens! Why not just hold up a sign saying: "Don't Care. Not Paying Attention."Nice Stoat thinks "isn't it nice we have so many people here these days, and they're having fun!"Mean Stoat, meanwhile, is plotting to take hostages.

  59. Section 222 - May 19, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Joe, not sure where your seats are in the 300 section. I imagine it's not as big of a problem as you move down the baselines because of the angle. But right behind the plate it's a problem and everyone deals with it without getting bent out of shape. It's not a matter of a normal way of sitting, it's whether you lean forward on the edge of the seat, or sit back. Most people don't mind doing the latter when it's pointed out to them that it makes a difference to the person sitting behind them. Glad you were accommodating. I will say that there was one guy who didn't take kindly to my requests. (He was all decked out in Nats gear so I can't blame it on being a Philly fan either.) But he didn't actually have a ticket for the seat right in front of me (or in the section as far as I know.) So when he started getting boisterous I just asked the usher to remove him, and he did.

  60. Section 222 - May 19, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Faraz, I seriously doubt that more than 5% of the crowd noticed that Burnett was uncomfortable, if he was. (I bet if you asked him he'd say it makes no difference at all, and might even say that he didn't even notice the wave.). The team, and us rabid fans, are going to have to get used to this kind of behavior as we start regularly drawing more than 30,000 a night. I for one kind of look forward to that.

  61. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Ghost, on Ankiel being Ankiel, it means this. When Ankiel had a couple of good days and won games for us at the plate (yes, he did) I was thinking (and even said) that he might be our solution at CF. Well, Ankiel is just Ankiel, a guy who is not a "professional hitter" and may never be. Seems like when he's in a slump he prefers to get his AB's over with as quickly as possible and go back to the outfield where he knows he's contributing. Maybe that's a touch of his old pitcher's mentality, but that's how I see it. I was hoping that with regular playing time his hitting might get more consistent, but it hasn't. You take him for what he is until better alternatives surface–or get off the DL.

  62. Faraz Shaikh - May 19, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Section 222 and stoat, Burnett seemed to stop couple of times when the wave came in his vision. Maybe I am over-analyzing it, or not. We will never know unless someone comments on it. But I just don't see the point of a wave.

  63. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Whether Davey should just let Ankiel be Ankiel and not expect that even in a slump he at least bunt, is another question, and a good one.

  64. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    When Morse comes back, I would just keep ANkiel as a late inning defensive replacement. Our pitching staff allows us a chance to in 95% of the games. Our hitting eleimminates avout 40% of those chances. Was hoping to read of eck being Mickey Hatchered when I got on line but see no reports yet. Maybe tonight is the night.

  65. baseballswami - May 19, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    We have withstood tremendous losses and still managed to put together a decent start to the season. The game was ONE TO ONE until the 11th inning, meaning the Orioles, who have been world-beaters lately, only scored one run. Yes, we have giant holes in our line- up. Did you think we could lose so many players and not struggle? Is this magical thinking? Danny, who is weak-hitting, struggling and an immature hitter was asked to bunt with two strikes against a guy throwing a devastating curve and excessive high heat. He has trouble hitting in good situations. Our pitcher, who pitched a long game and performed very well, was asked to do a hit and run in a tough, tied game. Both were set up to fail and then blamed for the loss. Any chance at all that those were ill-advised calls? No that couldn't be because St Davey never makes a mistake. He just blames the players. Yes, the team is in some trouble – they are playing good, intact teams without the players they should have and need. Danny and Ankiel are holes, everyone else is doing ok, but not all at the same time.There have also been some weird bounces and plays that did not go our way. I still think Lombardozzi needs to be playing more. I hope they can dig down and maybe get some lucky bounces and get back in the win column.Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Go Detweiler! Go Nats! I love this team, but they have not exactly been playing good, exciting baseball recently. Hoping Zim catches fire soon.

  66. howl31 - May 19, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    The point of the wave is that some fans have fun participating in it… clearly not ALL fans, but some people think it is fun… not sure it has a purpose beyond that…As for distracting a major league pitcher… if the wave has the ability to distract an MLB pitcher, I highly recommend Nats fans implement the wave at the top of every inning… it may be our best chance at scoring…

  67. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    It was pretty clear before the season even started that a soft early schedule meant that the nats needed to get off to a fast start and put a lot of wins in the bank. In fact, they have done exactly that in the face of an almost biblical plague of injuries and deserve a lot of credit for that. It is equally clear that they need to step up their level of play considerably over the next month, and it's not unreasonable to wonder whether they currently have the available talent to do that. The same patience which I think has been a virtue since early April could prove fatal in late May and June. I guess there's nothing to do but stay tuned and root root root for the home team (if they don't win who's to blame?). Being a baseball fan is not for sissies.

  68. Bigfish - May 19, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Re: Ankiel. I wonder if anyone (i.e. Eck) has pointed out to him that every pitcher in the league — plus Carpenter & FP & yours truly — knows that when he gets 2 strikes on him, high gas will produce a swing-&-miss EVERY TIME. FP says it's a tough pitch for left-handed batters to lay off of, coming from a righty pitcher. I don't buy that.

  69. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Once I heard Tommy Milone say (or it was reported that he said) the rally towels distracted him in Pittsburg, I believe. Later he said he learned to tune them out. I find it hard to believe the wave isn't a little distracting (why have a batters eye, after all?) but along with muddy mounds, etc., it's part of the conditions of contest.

  70. Faraz Shaikh - May 19, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    NatsLady, it shouldn't be in our own park.

  71. peric - May 19, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    I don't know why John is after Espy. Desmond looked worse. And he had another error. Sure he was responsible for the only run. Zimmerman caught looking at strike three. LaRoche looked pathetic at the plate. Harper seemed to be the only one "playing within himself" with two singles and a walk. Caught stealing but also managed through shear hustle to get himself to third base in scoring position. Wasted effort because no one behind him could drive him in.Ankiel is still a terrible hitter … and history shows he will only get worse with more strike outs, few if any walks and a homer every once in a while. Honestly, I'd rather see Corey Brown and let Ankiel be a late inning replacement because he is going to be an offensive liability as the season progresses. Ankiel is a pretty good bench player plain and simple.Espinosa really doesn't have a history yet … except for his minor league history. The jury is still ot.

  72. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    FS, I agree, and let's please, please tell Terrance that!!!

  73. peric - May 19, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    As for 'St. Davey"; of course he makes mistakes but he does appear to be good at making a purse from a sows ear. I think this game drained him considerably emotionally … he seemed very tired after the game … almost depressed. Saw him shake his head more than once in the dugout after a poorly executed at bat.

  74. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    I don't know why John is after Espy. Desmond looked worse.I did not see this game on my planet. How did it turn out?

  75. peric - May 19, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    @JeffWx if they bring Brown up he is going to lead-off. That is what they've been grooming / training him to do in Syracuse this season. He is in every game and is leading off (unlike last year when he got moved around a lot). Brown leads off. Lombardozzi is the designated super utility starter this season. Espinosa is the starting second baseman. Ankiel is over 30 without any kind of ceiling. He is what he is an ex pitcher who strikes out a lot and every once in a while hits a tater. Espinosa has a ceiling that could see him as an elite player. There's a big difference dude, in point-of-fact ITS HUGE.

  76. do1teach1 - May 19, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    It is hard to look at Hammel's record for the Orioles and imagining us scoring against him.Are we really going to send Espy up there left-handed again tonight, or ever again this season? He swings like a left-handed Austin Kearns. It's a big looping mess.Espy is entertaining though. It's fun to watch him protest strike calls, when he leads the NL in strikeouts. Clearly, the umpire should defer to his excellent judgment.I believe we'd have 4 or 5 more wins this season if we'd played Lombo instead of Espy.

  77. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    By the way, I was shocked to see that four of the ten most frequent strikeout victims in MLB are second basemen. What the heck is up with that? When I was a kid back in the last ice age the prototypical second baseman was a "push 'em along" sort of contact hitter. Not so much now, I guess. I'm not sure that's progress. We can all be grateful I'm not in charge of the nats, but if I were I'd give Espinosa a big old fat bat like Ted Williams gave Ed Brinkman, make him choke up four inches and fine him a thousand bucks if he hit one to the warning track. Probably that's just me, though.

  78. peric - May 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Davey has infected the team with his constant and frequently unwise pursuit of the long ball.@PChuck? WTF team are you following? Must be the Yankees, maybe some team in Japan because it isn't the Nats? With "smart" ball small brain last year what was the Nat's record? With Johnson managing what **IS** the record? Any clue yet? My gawd some of these posts are just blatantly ridiculous bordering on the ludicrous! STOP. If there is one thing Davey espouses and believe in … and it isn't the home run PChuck, its developing young players in the system. That is what he is doing. That is why you see Bryce Harper keeping within himself, batting 2 singles and a walk. While Ankiel whiffs as usual. They are still building their lineup. Development is not complete. The roster is still under construction … so there will be delays, miscues, and set backs … but eventually I believe the Nats FO and Davey will prevail and produce a winner from their farm system … as the Orioles finally appear to be doing thanks in large part to Showalter agreeing to take over.

  79. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  80. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    I would like to see if the hitting would change if someone like Ray Knight or FP was the hitting coach. Some believe that the coaches are not coaches but advisors. If that is the case what is the point in calling them coaches. I want my pitching coach going over the other team's batters, and the batting coach going over the other team's pitchers, and what we should be doing in every situation. First and third base coaches remind runners the outs etc, why can hitting and coaches not remind the batters of situations.Still checking Eck still listed in the coaches.

  81. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    And he will be as long as Davey and Rizzo are running the show.

  82. Theophilus T. S. - May 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Going back a bit, I would suggest that attempting steals, hit-and-runs are big mistakes in inter-league play. You don't play these guys 16-18 times a year; you scout them less than you do teams in your own league (because in an intra-league game, the scout is actually scouting two teams). In short, you really shouldn't be confident the manager/players know the pitchers' moves, the catchers' throwing times, etc. If the manager is suicidal, bunt. Otherwise, just rely on the 25% chance the batter is going to get a hit.

  83. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    So now Joey Votto becomes the 5th hitter I've seen strike out on a breaking pitch in the dirt at his feet FROM 4 DIFFERENT TEAMS today.Obviously, all these guys must be Rick Eckstein disciples.

  84. natsfan1a - May 19, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  85. natsfan1a - May 19, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    On the view-obstructing question, I've found that it can be an issue in the 400's as well. Depends on how many rows back one is, but the view through the plexiglas can be obstructed depending on how someone is positioned in the row next to it. I once, very politely, asked a parent whether she would mind having her child return to his seat. He was sitting directly on the deck in front of the plexiglas and obstructing the view of a number of people (me included). She got quite huffy, although a number of my neighbors thanked me for asking. May 19, 2012 2:08 PM

  86. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 19, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    I am not worried about other team's batters swinging at pitches in the dirt. I know they do it too. Players today have no plate discipline. I am just saying a team that would actually show plate dispiline and swing at strikes and not at balls would be a great hitting team. All players appear ro be swinging for the fenses, becasue they pay the home run hitters a lot. Poor hitting technique is previlent around the league.We need Charlie Lau. I see Eck was not fired while I was mowing the yard. Now off to see the Mets Blue Jays game (I am sure there will be poor swinging there too, but as I said I only care that the nats do it.)

  87. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Well, on any given day, a catcher with no prior pitching experience can have a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. That's what some Mets catcher (Johnson) did to the Blue Jays. I don't think they cared, though…

  88. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    And again, Charlie Lau died in 1984. You stand a better chance at Ted Williams.

  89. stoat - May 19, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    You stand a better chance at Ted Williams.Thaw him out and let's go!

  90. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 19, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Charlie might have died, but his philosphy is as good today as it was then. Just ask George Brett.

  91. Exposremains - May 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    I see some of you pointed it out a;ready but these kind of excuses coming from Espinosa(hasn't hit in almost a year) should send him straight to AAA. He's not a HR hitter, he should know how to bunt.

  92. Exposremains - May 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    or the bench

  93. Exposremains - May 19, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    I'm in luck, I live in Florida and Fox will show the Nats here. Amazing.

  94. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    And when was the last time George Brett got a base hit?Look. I'm not saying that hitting can't be affected by coaching, but that needs to happen at the very early stages of a career.You are NEVER going to make Desmond a patient contact hitter. He swings from the heels and hates taking pitches. Ankiel is what he is. If you draft more position players like Rendon and impress all lower level kids that a premium on your advancement hinges on plate discipline you'll see an overall improvement in hitting. Then you'll see why Davey has so much confidence in Eck.

  95. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Expos…..where are you? The Orlando Fox affiliate is giving us 2 last place teans.

  96. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    NatsJack, thats all well said but there is still baseball smarts and sometimes good coaching increases baseball smarts.Espinosa and Ankiel got a failing grade. Its like what people said about Nyjer's baseball IQ and Milledge. Just dumb players. When something doesn't work like bunting foul with 2 strikes, you say WHAT WAS HE THINKING in your best Charlie Slowes voice?Not to pick on Desi, this Strop kid was going "HenRod wild" after plunking Lombo, and after Desi took ball 1, Desi should have been looking for another pitch out of the zone. If Desi doesn't foul off that ball it goes back to the screen for a wild pitch then you have a man on 2nd with no outs. Just not smart baseball.

  97. PChuck - May 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    >>>If there is one thing Davey espouses and believe in … and it isn't the home run PChuck, its developing young players in the system. That is what he is doing. That is why you see Bryce Harper keeping within himself, batting 2 singles and a walk. While Ankiel whiffs as usual. <<<Read Kolko's column today because I assume you haven't been watching the games this season.Look, I don't like Davey Johnson as manager of this team. His in-game managing is among the worst I've seen this season (and I have mlb.tv and watch lots of games). Johnson is responsible for the day-to-day direction of these players and he does an incredibly poor job at it. Yesterday was just his crowning achievement of incompetence.

  98. natsfan1a - May 19, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    Speaking of old-time players, I was at the store and a bunch of guys were standing outside collection for a Knights of Columbus drive. As we walked in, one guy said something to my husband regarding his Nats shirt. (I didn't pick up on it right away, but it was something like, "Now you can wear that shirt, because they're doing well." If I'd been on the ball, I'd have replied that I wore my Nats gear even back when they [stunk]. But I digress.) Anyway, on the way out, the same guy was asking about the club and date (1905) on the t-shirt, and we chatted for a few moments about former Washington ballclubs. He mentioned going to games back in the day and watching some good players, though the team didn't do well. I believe he referenced Mickey Vernon. Then he said I was too young to remember those days, which always goes over well with this gal. :-)Anyhoo, seems like I run into more folks who are interested in talking DC baseball when I'm out and about. I stopped at a Virginia grocery store on my way home from Tuesday's game, and that gal was asking about the team, too. Kinda nice.

  99. Exposremains - May 19, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Jacksonville. That's what it says on the cable guide. I hope its true.

  100. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Steve…. I agree totally, but it's like a logarithmic scale. The earlier you get them, the more compounded the knowledge becomes.

  101. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    Expos….. Thanks but that would be a 75 minute drive and my current condition won't allow that.

  102. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Meaning I could pick it up somewhere south of St. Augustine.

  103. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Steve…. I agree totally, but it's like a logarithmic scale. The earlier you get them, the more compounded the knowledge becomes. May 19, 2012 3:39 PM Again I don't disagree with that but these games count and if your batter is impatient give him the Take sign or if you really don't think he can do the job (see Henry), take him out of the game.I am also a cringer when I see Espinosa or Ankiel come up in clutch situations.

  104. SonnyG10 - May 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    peric said… If there is one thing Davey espouses and believe in … and it isn't the home run PChuck, its developing young players in the system. That is what he is doing. That is why you see Bryce Harper keeping within himself, batting 2 singles and a walk. While Ankiel whiffs as usual. They are still building their lineup. Development is not complete. The roster is still under construction … so there will be delays, miscues, and set backs … but eventually I believe the Nats FO and Davey will prevail and produce a winner from their farm system … as the Orioles finally appear to be doing thanks in large part to Showalter agreeing to take over. May 19, 2012 12:57 PM Peric, I agree with this wholeheartedly. I was going to blog something similar, but you've done it for me.As to the hitting coach, those people who want to fire Eckstein IMHO are expecting too much from a hitting coach. There is only so much a hitting instructor can do (otherwise the MLB would have nothing but .400 plus hitters). The hitting instructor can help, but the hitters need to work their problems out themselves. They need to learn to adjust as the league adjusts to them.

  105. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Had to go back and read peric's post and it is something we are in agreement.Who among any of us think this Nats club is World Series worthy? This is the year the Nats learn how to win. And who would have put the Nats in their current position considering the injuries?And yet it's all on the hitting coach.

  106. NatsLady - May 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    So we are a year behind Atlanta? I can live with that.This is the year the Nats learn how to win.

  107. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Speaking of poor managing Dusty Baker almost blew the game for the reds today. Chapman is lights out, and Marshall comes in and is awful. Finally he took him out to reserve the victory

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
ATLANTA 76 77 13.0
MIAMI 74 79 15.0
NEW YORK 74 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Friday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 86 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 69 5.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 75 10.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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ON THE RADIO

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