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Cards steal one from Nats

Sep 2, 2012, 1:51 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Drew Storen watches Allen Craig score the winning run in the ninth.

For five months, the Nationals have known they could lose a game because of their inability to stop opponents from stealing bases off them. When it finally came to fruition Saturday evening, there was nothing they could do but acknowledge once again this is a problem area and that they’ll continue to try to address it.

That didn’t make this 10-9 loss to the Cardinals sting any less. In what proved to be among their most frustrating losses of the season, the Nationals wasted an early offensive outburst, saw their presumed playoff ace get smoked for a career-high eight runs, rally to take the lead on some heads-up baserunning and then watch as the back end of their bullpen gave up the tying and winning runs before an exasperated crowd of 34,004.

There were no shortage of significant developments that took place over the course of 3 hours and 29 minutes on a muggy, 91-degree late-afternoon in the District, but the defining moment surely came when Drew Storen let Allen Craig steal second base without drawing a throw in the top of the ninth of a tie game. Moments later, Craig came around to score on David Freese’s single to left, the final blow of a wild ballgame.

“I’m just concentrating on trying to get a groundball there,” Storen said. “And he just took the base.”
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  1. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    This base stealing with impunity has been bothering me for a couple of months now. It finally cost us a game today. I get it that pitchers need to concentrate more on batters. But this is becoming a huge 800-pound gorilla in the room. Good teams in the playoffs, and that means just about everybody except maybe the Barves, will be running on first pitch unless we can thrown out a runner more than once every lunar cycle.

  2. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    After such a solid start this was a frustrating loss for sure. I asked my girlfriend on how we can smuggle in a broom to heckle the pen with tomorrow, but I obviously spoke up too soon.

  3. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    After such a solid start this was a frustrating loss for sure. I asked my girlfriend on how we can smuggle in a broom to heckle the pen with tomorrow, but I obviously spoke up too soon.

  4. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    The obvious thing for the relievers since they do not hold runners for whatever reason the solution is very easy.You can not allow a hit once the base is stolen. That would take care of the problem.Not sure which would be easier.

  5. NatsNut - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    It was a good game today. Mark, can you find out what the ump was saying to Jayson Werth during his at-bat that made Davey come out?

  6. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Appeared Jayson was asking what is the borderline of the outside. Freeze was over and called out and that was in same place. either both strikes or both balls

  7. peric - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    When the staff isn't pitching well its a glaring problem. When they are its an annoyance. Last season and before when they had mostly soft-tossers or inconsistent veterans they didn't pitch well but managed to hold runners on to stave the bleeding. I guess they'll just have to learn to adjust. New bench coach this season in Randy Knorr … just goes to show how valuable Mac (John McLaren) was and why the Nats seem far more upset at his leaving than they did with Riggleman. And why Rizzo tried to convince him to stay on.

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    WOW just saw the play by Harper where he scored from first. That was exciting! More people need to talk about that than anything else.

  9. Section 222 - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Storen had a fantastic 8th. 3 pitches to get a very big out. He didn't have it in the 9th. Hopefully Davey will have a quicker hook the next time in a similar situation. Too bad the pitching meltdown (and the wave!) gave away a game that would have been a classic comeback win, featuring Harper's hustle.

  10. sjm308 - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Our pitcher tomorrow, you may have heard of him, is probably the worst at focusing on holding runners but like Peric says, if we are pitching well, its just an annoyance. Here's to hoping we are annoyed tomorrow as SS gives us a third win against the Cards, and Hammels chops another game off that magic number. I do think allowing 85% of all stolen base attempts to be successful is an indication we have a true weakness. Natslady can talk about Pittsburgh and how bad they are but that does nothing to help us. This can be fixed, but I am thinking its a little late in this season to do so. I did like seeing Suzuki throw out the runner in the first inning and I guarantee you that if he had still been in the game, he would have been blamed for the last two stolen bases by several posters here who just love Flores and like to complain about our new catcher. Funny, I don't see anyone complaining about Flores so it must be the pitchers fault when Flores is catching and Suzuki's fault when he is behind the plate.Go Nats!!

  11. Section 222 - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    Good point 308 about the anti-Zuke/pro-Flores bias of some folks here. But neither Zuke nor Flores nor even Pudge would have had a chance to throw out those runners in the 9th. I don't care how slow your delivery is, if you pay attention to Alan Craig on 1st, he isn't going to steal on you. So yes, these guys have to figure out how not to be so slow to the plate. But first and foremost, they need to keep their heads in the game and hold the runners on first. If they don't we will be in deep doo do against good teams in the playoffs

  12. Grandstander - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    I had the same thought Peric. I believe it's the bench coach who calls for throwovers, pitch outs, etc. This is as much on Knorr as it is our pitchers and catchers.Either way, it's been identified as a problem, now adjust and fix it.

  13. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Also the fact we don't do a slide step which many teams employee to slow other teams running game.

  14. SonnyG10 - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:35 AM

    You can bet that Cubs advance scout that was sitting behind me made note of the stealing.

  15. Swift Eagle - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    The recent popularity of "Moneyball" has resulted in a a huge decline in the stolen base as a tactic in MLB…But the Nats pitching has been so good, the opponents have been forced to try to create offense anyway possible, and now they've found a weakness….Just another thing for the young Nats to work on….A lot more common to see steals and small ball in the playoffs, since you almost never see a #4 or #5 starter…

  16. Gonat - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:12 AM

    Looking forward to being at Sunday's game.

  17. hiramhover - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    Swift EagleThe Moneyball mentality was definitely a factor in the decline of base stealing, but the decline isn't that recent, and SBs are actually making a comeback. They declined dramatically in the league as a whole in the early 2000s but have been trending up–last year saw the most SBs in a dozen years, and 2012 is on a pace only slightly behind last year. I think the general decline in offense has made teams more willing to take chances on the basepaths. The rate of successful SB attempts has been rising too–how much of that is teams getting smarter about when to send runners, and how much of it is pitchers and catchers losing the art of throwing them out, I don't know.

  18. John C. - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    Putting up a "Magic Number" ticker on the site? I remember when that was the countdown to Viera clock. I like this one better :)Although, for the record, I assume nothing; like the team, we're just taking this one game at a time, trying to give 110% and just trying to help the ballclub. No jinxes here!

  19. Swift Eagle - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:44 AM

    You're exactly right hiramhover…as the scales in MLB have started to tilt back towards the pitchers recently, with help from drug testing, the stolen base has become more common, and more successful. Again, teams have to find ways to score…I always thought the Moneyball types underestimated steals anyway, b/c a base stealer can distract a pitcher into some poor pitches, and many are not as good in the stretch as they are in the wind up..And I also think you're right that current MLB pitchers and catchers are not as gifted at the art of stopping

  20. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 2, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Well, had a nice hike but then returned to watch the replay; unfortunate, although it started nicely, at least.The key, I hope, is to keep the pressure on tomorrow with Mr. Strasburg pitching and the hitters continuing to pound the ball. Taking three of four would be perfectly acceptable.

  21. peric - Sep 2, 2012 at 6:00 AM

    Well at least this season its not a count down to the tragic number. As it has been in some seasons past. But, of course those did lead to both Harper and Strasburg and glad I am for those seasons just to have those two players. Plus others! Makes those frustrating seasons almost worth it. Not much came out them; only in the last two have we seen players appear who look to be a part of the greater future. With the exceptions of Zim and Clippard …

  22. Joe Seamhead - Sep 2, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    We were sitting in 311 and watching Craig take a pretty big lead, especially for such a slow guy. We were saying that Flores should throw down to first, as Craig would've been dead meat. He didn't steal on the first, or second pitch. In this particular situation, with a right hander at the plate, a pitch out, or simply an outside fastball, and Craig could have been snagged.The catch that Perez made in the ninth was a beautiful thing to behold! I know it was only one play, and I'm not drawing any conclusions, but he looked more like a natural CF on that play then any outfielder that I've seen in a National's uniform.

  23. NatsLady - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Clearly my fault. ;) Didn't go to the game, though I thought of it after leaving work at 5:45. Could have caught the last few innings and saved it for ya–riiiiiigght! I saw the Craig steal, even the Fox announcers were amazed. Don't know why Flo didn't throw over a few times. They sure don't know a lot about the team. Said, Oh, Werth will go after the first pitch here. Nope. Well, he's going here. Nope. It's 2-0 before Werth swings. Don't they know Werth ALWAYS takes???? Even his father can't get him to stop taking, it was in the newspaper! Hope you are better today, man.Going to watch the replay of Bryce running home, that had to be cool, and the Perez catch. Has to be on the pitching when the offense gives you NINE runs and the defense doesn't make any errors. mick, I think if JZ is injured or hitting a wall, that is even more evidence to be careful with Stras. We just don't know why pitchers get hurt but all the more reason to be careful with guys who are young and recovering from TJ. I think Davey left JZ in too long but I assume that was because he wanted him to finish the inning so he wouldn't lead off (and he didn't want double-switch so early in the game). That's my only criticism of Davey on this one.Let's not forget JZ and Burnett have been ROCK SOLID until recently and contributed a lot to us getting here. However, rock solid does not mean AUTOMATIC. Have to hope they will both get back to their normal selves. Agree it might not be a bad idea for Lannan to come in for JZ's next start but I don't know if Davey will do that.Will be there this afternoon to see the series win. Go NATS!!!!

  24. NatsLady - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    P.S. Have a ticket for the Thursday (Cubs) game that I won't be using in Sec. 304. Anyone who wants it let me know, I can leave it at will-call. You can pay me back with the giveaway…

  25. sjm308 - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Actually natslady, what the announcers said was Werth usually does not swing at the first pitch but in the late innings with a new pitcher on the mound this might be one time where he does. Of course, he did not but Verducci was just trying to add some strategy to the at bat which I kinda liked.

  26. sjm308 - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    I realize there will be a new post up soon but I want to clear up at least my stance on the wave.1. I hate it2. It did not cost us the game3. people spending time doing the wave can't possibly be paying attention to the baseball being played.4. I really hate it when its a tight game, and we are in the field.Go Nats!! Go Playoffs!!Do you guys realize we have scored 27 runs in 3 games vs. the Cardinals who have a fairly decent pitching staff.

  27. Positively Half St. - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    I was talking about the base-stealing problem in the 9th, saying there is nothing the team can do at the moment, the way they pitch. Stolen base followed on the next pitch.It is frustrating, and even the magic number counter is too slow for my liking. Remember that the Nats have already eliminated the Astros from catching them, and more will follow:Nats' Magic Number vs. Cubs: 2Nats' Magic Number vs. Marlins: 9.The Rockies fall in between. We can mark the slow march with fallen foes until the playoffs are assured. I will especially enjoy the demise of the Fish.+1/2St.

  28. Dryw Loves the Nats - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    sjm, agreed about the offense, and in two of the games, we gave up a total of one run to what could be described as a fairly decent lineup…. :-)(Not talking about yesterday's game right now. It happened. It's over. Today is a new day.)

  29. MicheleS - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Hi Davey! Hi Mike! As you can see from a couple of posts about the wave (in the instant analysis), If Terrence is found in a body bag somewhere, you have a few suspects. Obviously, you two are aware of the baserunners having their way on our Pitchers, so I won't bore you with that. One thing I ask is you commission a study on the DC Humidity and it's impact on our team. A few of the guys had commented on cramping, the heat, and humidity impacting the game. Maybe if the humidity is expected to reach a certain % you should order IV bags for the entire team, specifically your pitchers. (and I am actually being serious about this)Oh and figure out what the heck is going on with Jordan over the last few starts and fix it ;-)

  30. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Zim your take on the wave mirrors mine. If you must do it, at least do it when we are at the plate.

  31. natsfan1a - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Haven't read posts or comments yet, and getting ready to head out the door for cat duty. That said, wasn't happy with the base stealing. Pluses: another day, another magic number drop; the Barves lost, too, so no ground lost there; 50% off Papa John's again (nats50) – I got mine last night, though. Oh, and nice that the broadcasting team wasn't piling on about the SSS and seemed to get the reasons for it. Verducci was quite knowledgeable about the team, particularly as compared to some other Fox broadcasters (cough, McCarver). :-)Hoping for a curly w and a series win today. Will be at the game tomorrow, weather permitting. Yay!

  32. natsfan1a - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Oh, yeah. I noticed Terrance running about when they cut to the crowd in the 4th or so, with Zimmermann on the bump. So, he was starting the wave again? Yuck.

  33. natsfan1a - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Oh, and I guess I should add the Nats bats as a plus, too.

  34. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    What is the deal with Terrance ? He seems to not understand baseball cheering.

  35. Section 222 - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Morning all. 1a, unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the PJ promo only applies if we win. Not sure about the Wings! promo.LOL Michelle on the Humidity Commission. What a very DC thing to do. You make a good point though that preparing the players for the effects of extreme weather would be a good thing to consider. Any legal advantage we can get I'm for. Can't resist noting, however, that we have about as much chance of affecting the weather as we have of convincing the fans not to do the wave. :-)

  36. sjm308 - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    222 – the free wings has a caveat that you must have a ticket to the game where they scored 6+ runs and it must be a win. My son & I have just a few days left to score 4 orders of wings. Doubt if we can fit that in but I keep those tickets with me just in case.

  37. Gonat - Sep 2, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    First off on Theo questioning if the Cardinals can hit – I think they showed they can.Just a thought on JZim, he seemed to quickly abandon his curveball and went to fastball/slider.I think I know why he did. He K's Freese (so he thought) on the curveball but it was called a ball. They go back to the curve and Freese then hits it out and he doesn't throw curves the rest of the game.JZim's slider was up after that and he got out of sorts.Here's the Freese Pitch-track. Clearly a strike on pitch number 4 that should have been a strikeout.http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation.php-pitchSel=519455&game=gid_2012_09_01_slnmlb_wasmlb_1&batterX=15&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3.gif

  38. MicheleS - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    222. I WISH we could impact the weather, because then I would have sunny 75 degrees and no humidity the entire year.

  39. Section 222 - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    thanks 308. Yeah, lots of Wings opportunities recently, but yesterday's tix won't do it unfortunately. On Werth, it's true he takes a lot of pitches and works the count, but it's most definitely NOT true that he ALWAYS takes the first pitch. I can think of several occasions where he jumped on the first pitch and hit the ball out. I thought Verducci's analysis there was good. It was clear the announcers yesterday knew a lot more about the Cards than the Nats. It was annoying, but once we win the World Series that will change. And all in all, they weren't horrible yesterday. The Strasburg discussion was even relatively sane, except for Rosenthal of course. Respect for the Nats is clearly growing.

  40. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    The Curse of the Dierks Bentley sign falling and getting out of rhythm. 27 pitches in the scoreless first didn't help. Both starters struggled in the humidity.

  41. mick - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I was at game on Friday… Aesthetically, the park both the nats and cards uniforms are beautiful..

  42. pRAA with the ISO - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. pRAA with the ISO - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    I'm pretty sure the wings promotion does not require a win. As soon as the Nats scored their sixth run yesterday, a notice went up on the big screen telling fans that they were now qualified for free wings. No win yet at that point. The Papa John's promotion OTOH does require a win. It says exactly that on the ribbon board ads they run during the games.They do need to add a proviso to both deals saying that if a wave occurs during the game the free wings and/or Papa John's are summarily canceled.

  44. hiramhover - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    pRAA/ISO is correct.Hard Times promotion only requires Nats to score 6 runs, not necessarily to win:http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ballpark_demo/information/index.jsp?content=guide#H

  45. sjm308 - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    pRAA – I can pretty much tell you that it does require a win for the wings as I had to buy them the first time I tried with a loss and 6 runs. At least that was the case at the College Park Hard Times. At least they were a decent price and the beer was cold. I agree with you on the wave proviso.

  46. sjm308 - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    pRAA – I stand corrected – just went to Hard Times site and I now see that the manager at the College Park Hard Times was wrong to deny me my wings!! The outrage! Again, not a big deal and I just trusted he was right. This was way back in the spring so since then I have only gone when we have won. That will now change, thanks for the headsup!Go Nats!!

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

    pRAA — Excellent suggestion. That may be the only way to make the fans behave. Hit 'em where it hurts!

  48. Section 222 - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Of course, since the Papa Johns promotion is for everyone not just fans at the game, it would be little unfair to penalize those watching on TV (or just checking the score in the morning) for the actions of the fans in the stadium.

  49. pRAA with the ISO - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Well, the lazy fans lounging on sections of their sofa are penalized by the actions of the players in the stadium if they score 5 runs and lose. So what's wrong with penalizing them for the actions of loser fans in the stadium?

  50. realdealnats - Sep 2, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    I'll add to the comment below: I think the #1 way for the staff to work on the base stealing problem this late in the season is not to issue unintended walks. I know it's better to issue the walk than than the solo in the top of the 9th but… Also agree Flo should have fired a couple down to first to keep Craig honest. He's the last guy you want to give up 90 feet to in that there's no way he scores from first on a single. I like going after batters first as a focus, but maybe in the late innings especially and for playoffs a super conservative philosophy should start to be worked in at least between the Knorr and the catcher. _________________The obvious thing for the relievers since they do not hold runners for whatever reason the solution is very easy. You can not allow a hit once the base is stolen. That would take care of the problem.

  51. Candide - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    natsfan1a said…Oh, and nice that the broadcasting team wasn't piling on about the SSS and seemed to get the reasons for it. Verducci was quite knowledgeable about the team, particularly as compared to some other Fox broadcasters (cough, McCarver). :-)Do you mean like when they said that "Frank Stammen" was coming in to relieve Zimmermann?And when Burnett came in, Cunegonde asked me, "Did he say John Burnett?" I told her I was sure he musta said Sean, but on reflection, Cunegonde has much better ears than I do (she hears things I don't hear, she hears everything I say, even if she isn't in the same room as I am, or even the same building…), so I suspect they did say "John" Burnett. Cunegonde can hear the difference among "there," "they're," and "their." Spooky.BTW, chapter forty-two in Cunegonde's continuing blossoming into a baseball fan: A year ago, she would not only not have picked up John-versus-Sean, she wouldn't have reacted to Burnett's being announced as Helen Burnett other than to remark that it was an odd name for a guy with a goatee.

  52. realdealnats - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Cunegonde can hear the milk in the refridgerator starting to turn…

  53. Candide - Sep 2, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    (uh-oh… is this going to turn into a "Chuck Norris is so tough…" kinda thing? "Cunegonde's hearing is so good that…")

  54. NatsFanJim - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    This is everyone's fault. Davey, McCatty, and the pitchers. Even all-star prep players in high school work on their time to home and pickoff moves. These are major leaguers with big stakes and big money on the line and they don't? Especially when the whole universe knows this is their achilles heal? Absolutely this is negligence at best, incompetence at the worst. The pitchers should have been working on this all year — with a stop watch, until they get it right. Far too many bases have been stolen without a throw from the catcher this year — a disgrace. So, Davey, McCatty and all of you pitchers, get your freakn' act together — get off your asses, take the buds out of your ears, and get yourselves out to mound pronto and work your arses off to get this problem under control. And do it now.

  55. NatsFanJim - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Storen should have corrected his horrible little "foot drag thing" as he delivers his syrupy slow delivery at 1.8 to 2.2 seconds: that is horrible.All star select prep player/pitchers work on this and get their times down to 1.5 or better — and their 17 year old high school players. I do think it's overdue for our pitchers to do the same thing — especially Storen. He should be embarassed by both is unsound delivery, and the results of that delivery and what it is doing to the team.

  56. natsfan1a - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Oh, bummer. Thanks, 222. I'd thought it was based only on runs scored. Good thing I didn't try to order today instead of last night. :-)Morning all. 1a, unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the PJ promo only applies if we win. Not sure about the Wings! promo.

  57. natsfan1a - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    But that one would apply only to Terrance. :-)They do need to add a proviso to both deals saying that if a wave occurs during the game the free wings and/or Papa John's are summarily canceled.

  58. natsfan1a - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    I'm pretty sure that his tortoise runs faster than he does.Also agree Flo should have fired a couple down to first to keep Craig honest. He's the last guy you want to give up 90 feet to in that there's no way he scores from first on a single.

  59. realdealnats - Sep 2, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Candide–Why uh-oh? Actually your post got me to check out the PDF of Candide. Great beginning, although I'm too busy to read the whole novel right now. (uh-oh… is this going to turn into a "Chuck Norris is so tough…" kinda thing? "Cunegonde's hearing is so good that…")

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