Skip to content

Sun-day, bloody Sun-day

Sep 23, 2012, 11:23 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper picks up the ball after Jayson Werth lost it in the sun.

There’s apparently something about the September sun at Nationals Park, the way it hovers just above the third base stands in late afternoon and aligns itself perfectly with routine flyballs hit to center and right fields.

“Once 4:05 comes around, you’ve got the shadows at the plate,” Bryce Harper said. “You’ve got the left field stands, with the red seats or whatever. And then you’ve got the sun monster behind. It’s just something that happens, and you’ve just got to play with it and hopefully it doesn’t happen any more.”

“It” is the stomach-churning feeling outfielders get when they realize they can’t see a routine flyball fast approaching them from underneath that bright sun. “It” was a feeling both Harper and Jayson Werth experienced Sunday afternoon, each at critical moments during what would become a 6-2 loss to the Brewers.

Harper completely lost sight of Ryan Braun’s fourth-inning flyball to center, letting it fall to the ground for a gift double. Braun wound up scoring Milwaukee’s first run of the game.

“You can’t catch what you can’t see, you know?” Harper said with a shrug. “Nothing you can do about it.”
Read more

  1. peric - Sep 24, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    Great question to Davey about outfielders managing the fall sun Mark.Seemed odd for it to happen to two outfielders in the same game. Atlanta is probably thinking the Fates of Baseball have cut the Nats metaphorical thread of baseball life if they were watching this game … I wonder how the Nats feel about that?Looks like CMW may pitch again against the Cardinals. That could mean Lannan twice against the Phillies. That does not bode well no matter how you look at it.

  2. UnkyD - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    Why would Wang be up for the Cards?

  3. Section 222 - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    There's no need for CMW to start another game until we clinch the East. The rotation lines up as follows, as far as I can tell, with no off days. Davey wants to throw three lefties against the Phillies this week so Gio and E-Jax will switch places in the rotation, with Gio pitching on regular rest, and E-Jax getting an extra day. Even if he starts on 10/2, Gio could start a playoff game on regular rest on 10/7, which would be Game 1 if we're the number one seed or Game 2 if we're the No. 2 or 3 seed. If we start our NLDS on 10/6, JZnn would be well rested and ready to go. MIL — E-Jax, Gio, Wang, JZnnPHI — Lannan, Det, GioSTL — E-Jax, JZnn, LannanPHI — Det, Gio, E-Jax10/4 Off Day10/5 Off Day

  4. JaneB - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    I will say we turned toward the backstop, when Haper lost that first ball, and the sun was blinding. When Werth lost the ball, the sun seemed worse. I wish it had happened to the Brewers. I noticed when they put Ricky Weeks in a shallow RF position, when they put the shift on ALR, the ball went to him like it had a homing device on it. Brewers definitely had a better day in the outfield.

  5. hiramhover - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    Ladson tweeted that Davey says CMW will make one more start. I'll put as much stock in that as I do any of Ladson's tweets–which is to say, I'll wait to see if Mark, Amanda, or one of the more reliable beat reporters confirms it.And if the division is really on the line, I'd be surprised to see him, regardless.

  6. SonnyG10 - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    Another sun day tomorrow. How about it affects the Brewer's outfielders and not ours. We need this to even out.

  7. Feel Wood - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Wang was fine today. He certainly wasn't the reason they lost the game. Far from it. I see no reason why he shouldn't get another start.

  8. Section 222 - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    I thought he pitched fine too. But there's no need for him to start again, unless it's in place of Lannan. I'll be interested in the explanation.

  9. mick - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    I can't believe the news todayOh, I can't close my eyes And make it go awayHow long…How long must we sing this songHow long, how long…'cause tonight…we can be as oneTonight…Love Bono and the Nats!had to post this, lol

  10. baseballswami - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    I swear someone added extra days to this month and a few extra games to the season. This is excruciating.

  11. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    My auto correct back on. Have to figure what I did get rid of it before.

  12. Bzl. - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    222… If things go reasonably well, Gio gets skipped in the last Home series so he can start Game 1 of the playoffs. So, Wang would get that start. If things go reasonably well.

  13. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    My auto correct back on. Have to figure what I did get rid of it before.

  14. Doc - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    Sun of a B…!! It's time that the Sun stopped playing favorites!The Nats' bat boy needs to sneek into the Visitor's dressing room to-night, and drill small holes in the Brew Crew's sun glasses.Tomorrow will be a better game–for the Nats!!

  15. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Good plan Doc.

  16. hiramhover - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    FWIW, James Wagner at the WaPo paraphrased Davey's comment re: CMW differently–not that he definitely would start again, but that he could make another start if needed. Which in trash time, after they've clinched the division, could be a possibility.

  17. Section 222 - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    Bzl, absolutely right. That's why I said I don't think he'll start again until we clinch. For those games, he's the perfect fill in starter. He certainly made a decent enough showing to deserve another start before the season ends. And thanks to hh for noting the Wagner piece on Nationals Journal. That makes perfect sense. I'm sticking by the rotation I laid out in my first comment as the most likely lineup of starters for the next two series. Once we clinch, all bets are off.Two comments on today's game, which couldn't have had more perfect weather. I'm hoping for clouds tomorrow because the Nats outfielders are really spooked by the sun. And Marvin Hudson is a really awful ump. I sure hope he'll be considering another career in the off season.

  18. peric - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    Why would Wang be up for the Cards?There's no need for CMW to start another game until we clinch the East.Clearly section 222 (again) never bothered to listen to Davey's postgamer. Instead he blathers on with his official schedule of starts. In response to a Taiwanese reporter's question about Wang in the playoffs Davey "sidestepped" slightly and said he will likely pitch again before the end of the regular season. He said he wanted a lineup of right-handed starters against the Cardinals. From that I infer that Lannan will likely pitch twice against the Phillies, both in Philadelphia and in DC before the end. As he also said he liked to line up lefties against the Phillies. He again stated that he felt that Wang and Lannan were starters.He did come back to the playoff question when he said he would only keep 4 starters for the playoffs. Implying Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Detwiler, and Jackson.

  19. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    Go Dodgers up 5-1 after7

  20. Manassas Nats' Fan - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    Go Dodgers up 5-1 after7

  21. peric - Sep 24, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    BTW, another question was posed about Wang's future with the club. Davey pointedly said that one weakness was starting pitching depth. So, it was something that would be discussed in the offseason.E.g. Welcome aboard Ryan Perry.

  22. Section 222 - Sep 24, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    Thankfully, hiramhover was around to point to a story about what Davey actually said w/r/t Wang so we don't have to rely on peric's inferences.My so-called "official schedule" is just a guess. I think it's more likely to pan out that the prediction that Davey will start Wang against the Cards before we've clinched.

  23. Swift Eagle - Sep 24, 2012 at 3:30 AM

    Reds just lost, Nats are still .5 up for the Z…SF also lost, Nats up 3.5 on them…We Want that Z!!!

  24. Laddie Blah Blah - Sep 24, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    Bad calls, infield bleeders, seeing eye grounders, blinding sun "doubles" – the Nats have seen all of that, and are still in complete control. They can win 6 of the remaining 10 and never have to look at the scoreboard.For the 2nd straight appearance, Burnett looked to be his old self. EJax, Det and Gio have all just had excellent outings, as has JZ. If JZ just duplicates the performance he gave last time out, the Nats SP will be returning to form at precisely the right time.The Nats started the season winning with pitching and defense, and they have all the tools they need to finish things up the same way.

  25. baseballswami - Sep 24, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    All I can say is Go Nats! You have given us a great season.

  26. Another_Sam - Sep 24, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    I just looked at the (hardcopy) post. The standings look good again.

  27. Expos4Ever - Sep 24, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Thursday is my last day at work (office closure). Two weeks ago, I didn't think there was any way my last day would come before the Nats clinched the division. The magic number is still 6 and I only have three days left. Go Nats, no more messing around, it's time to get it done! :)

  28. 320R2S15 - Sep 24, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    strange game, decent crowd, but small for a first place team at the end of Sept. The USAF and the duck commander, quite a combo. Luck was with the Brewers. The little girl sang pretty well. Did anyone on here win a jersey? tis been a long season,satisfaction almost there, but I'm feeling greedy.

  29. Bzl. - Sep 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Is the sun worse for the Nats than for other teams? Is the sun worse this year than in the previous 4 years at the Park? Seems it.

  30. MicheleS - Sep 24, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    320R2S515.. The crowd was 33K which is good for the Skins homeopener. Bzl. = the sun, we are probably only noticing it since we are fighting for something. We only remember bad play (not the causes) from the previous years.

  31. baseballswami - Sep 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    In September – Adam's foot WAS on the bag, bad calls, sun-monsters, rain outs causing rotation changes, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Talk about adversity – seems like things have not been falling our way. I am sincerely hoping that the Nats can just hang on and win enough games to clinch. We cannot depend on the Braves losing, they have been playing out of their minds. The Nats have been playing their worst baseball of the season. Time to turn this thing around and go on a tear. It won't matter if we win the division if we continue to play badly.

  32. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Oh, I forgot. As I was walking to my car in the Metro garage after the game, I saw a cute duo. The boy was 9 or 10, and was wearing a several-sizes-too-large Werth jersey. The burly dad was sporting a Harper jersey. I liked that, the little kid with the veteran's jersey and dad with the rookie's. Also brought to mind a moment in the (much promoted) Dierks Bentley concert on Saturday. He talked about how the original concert had been postponed when he went to spend time with his dying father, and how cool it was on Saturday when he came to the park and saw a jersey with his last name on it before he and his young daughter threw out ceremonial pitches. Then he sang this. Boo hoo. (You knew I would cry, right? I always do. :-))

  34. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Edited for correction:Not a pretty game (okay, a rather ugly one). Hope that it was an aberration and they'll get back to their winning ways today.Oh, and re. Doc's idea, they could also color over the Brew Crew's lenses with magic markers. Nah, too obvious. I like your idea better. Cheaper and faster than designing and building Mark's sunshield. Plus, that would have to be collapsible for the bottom of each inning. With our luck, it would probably get stuck open. :-)

  35. sjm308 - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Just a little torn.So excited to have a first place team, but just a little worried that we are not playing well going into the playoffs. Of course 3 or 4 great starts by Zimmnn, Gio EJax and Det will ease my mind. This is just so different from the previous years where we were already looking toward what would be happening in the off season. Now, I at least am thinking about 1. Can we hang on to win the division2. Is finishing with the best record really a bonus? (after this year it obviously will be)3. Is Davey going to be able to turn things around so we head into the playoffs with momentum?Bought my grandson a playoff shirt that is at least 5 sizes too large but at least he will have that as a keepsake. My son's boy is due in Nov. so he will get the World Series shirt!!OK, off to my last game until Oct. 3rdGo Nats!!

  36. Tcostant - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Before the game Sunday, you almost though the game was a give away; but to have the gane at 2-2 with Wand and the Brewers ace out, you figure that is a game we should win with our pen. Opportunity loss…

  37. Tcostant - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I can buy Ladson tweet, Wang could make one more start after the Nationals clinch and they need to set up their post season starters order. But make no mistake, he won't start again until th emagic number for the division is zero and he won't be on the post season roster.

  38. Dave - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    @sjm308, I don't think I could count you among the Legionnaires for your analysis there. If one saw that game yesterday, one would have to ask some of those questions.But my answers (at least) to your three questions are:1. I bet we can.2. No, the best record is not a bonus at all. I hope the Nats clinch and then lose some games so Cincy takes the #1 seed. I'd rather see the Nats play the Giants than the Braves.3. If anybody can right the listing ship, it's got to be Davey.Okay, back to work. (Yes, students, your teacher is doing very important work on the computer while you're taking that quiz.)

  39. m20832 - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Just one question, why doesn't the sun bother the teams our boys play?Let's get the brew crew today for a series split! GYFNG!!!

  40. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I'm not big on sticking labels on commenters, but sjm definitely isn't a gloom and doom type. I will confess to being a little worried about the level of play down the stretch as well. I do trust in Davey. :-)

  41. Feel Wood - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Just one question, why doesn't the sun bother the teams our boys play?Well, rather late in the game Carpenter pointed out that the Nats had hit into only two outfield outs all day. Sun is not usually a problem for infielders fielding grounders or outfielders fielding base hits.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter