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Familiar feeling

Aug 6, 2013, 4:36 AM EDT

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You could point to Stephen Strasburg’s inability to hold a runner on first base, a recurring problem that led to an early run. You could point to Tyler Clippard’s rare meatball of a changeup to Justin Upton in the eighth, a waist-high pitch that landed in the bleachers. And you absolutely could point to the Nationals’ continued woes at the plate with runners in scoring position, which left the crowd of 33,002 in a state of complete exasperation Monday night.

At this point, though, it really doesn’t matter how the Nationals lose games. It only matters that they continue to lose games, digging themselves into a hole that grows with each passing day at a time when they can’t afford to fall any deeper into the abyss.

“Two months left, and we’re 13 games back,” Clippard said with a sigh.

Not to nitpick, but the deficit actually is 13 1/2 games now after Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Braves, the latest in a long line of agonizing losses suffered by the Nationals this season.

“I mean, that’s baseball,” manager Davey Johnson said. “But boy, we needed that one.”
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  1. Secret wasian man - Aug 6, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Chad Tracy is what he is. Hairston had 2 hits. You couldn't expect 3. Where the problem lies is guys like Desmond and Zimm doing nothing in big spots.

  2. pwilly - Aug 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Stras pitched great but he had a costly mental mistake. After Upton's steal he went to 3-0 against Freeman. He should have just pitched around him at that point and tried to get the next hitter.

  3. Section 135 - Aug 6, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Never seen a manager quit on his team like Davey. Such uninspired play. Zim is washed up, has zero power and has no range anymore. Yet Davey still keeps hitting him and LaFail in the heart of the lineup. How are Davey's pet projects of Drew and Espi doing now. Neither is nor will be successful at even AAA yet Davey still let them go out and help ruin the season for this team. I want wholesale changes next year. If Trent Jewett in still coaching third than Rizzo has failed. I'm counting the days till Davey is gone. He should refund me for my tickets since he honestly doesn't give a damn out there.

  4. Mr Baseball - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    When is Davey going to put the correct man in the lead-off spot (Anthony Rendon)? Rendon takes a lot of pitches like you want a lead-off man to do and is a good two strike hitter. Now you can put Harper in the two or three spot where he belongs!

  5. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    On the other hand , we lost a one run game to a hot team, late in the game with Lombo and Hairston in the outfield and in the lineup. And section 135- not only is Drew not one of Davey's pet projects, but quite the opposite is true. Davey has rarely uttered a positive word about Drew. With a healthy Werth and Span maybe we crack that one? My concern is that both Lohse and Minor were having rough outings and we let them both off the hook.

  6. Unknown - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Yak, yak, yak. Lose, lose, lose. Wash. Rise. Repeat.

  7. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    We get to keep Gio.

  8. m - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    I really do not think Span ran out that bunt at full speed. It is not the first time he cruises to first base yet no repercussions for his actions. This team plays scared and the manager is indifferent.

  9. Laddie Blah Blah - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    "I'm counting the days till Davey is gone. He should refund me for my tickets since he honestly doesn't give a damn out there."He doesn't. Davey actually looks like a senior version of Alfred E. Neumann, and his "What, me worry" act is so 1950s, black and white, Howdy Doody old. Even worse, that attitude seems to have rubbed off on the FOF, but without the goofy grin.It was 20-year-old Harper who tried to rally the team. Harper leaves everything he's got on the field every single time he goes out there. Jayson, too, and Desi. But while Harper and Werth play to win, Desi is still playing to hit the 5-run HR and be the big hero. Once in a while that works, but, more often than not, he ends up hitting the first pitch into a rally-killing DP, or just strikes out. At least he's got the fire, but he needs to do a controlled burn and focus that energy more productively.I anticipate a new attitude next year. Rizzo should find a young guy out to prove himself, a baseball version of Vince Lombardi, who will drive this team to perform up to its great potential, a guy who burns to win with the same competitive fire that burns inside Werth, Harper and Desi. I think Ramos has it, too.I think young Billy Burns has that going for him, as well. Talk about energy and drive – that kid has got it. Zim and ALR suddenly seem old, and my man Rendon seems happy just to play the game. With all that intensity on the team, it doesn't hurt to have one guy who lightens things up.I still allow myself to believe that Zim will work to strengthen that shoulder in the off-season, and come back almost as good as new. If not, Rizzo and the new guy have a big decision to make. Any team with championship aspirations cannot afford the kind of play at 3rd base that we saw this year.Some guys get old faster than others. Unfortunately, ALR seems to be one of them. Some guys age well, and Werth seems to be one of those.I hope they fail to make the WC game. They ain't goin' nowhere, anyway, with the kind of leadership they have had this year. I'd rather see Rizzo get the best picks possible in next year's draft, and I rely on him to tweak the team's wrinkles and smooth them out in the off-season. He has assembled quite a stable of young arms in the minors. Need to get some young bats, legs and gloves to go along with those great young arms.

  10. SCNatsFan - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Hairston says "when you do everything you can to win you should be rewarded"; is this the same guy who popped out with a runner on third and one out in the ninth? ARE THESE GUYS REALLY THIS CLUELESS? THEY DID EVERYTHING RIGHT?!? Frustrating is this team still thinking it deserves to win games. I'm starting to fear last years team will be a special team, one remember for their magical year, not one that turned things around for the franchise.Go ahead Davey, stick your head back in the sand. Go ahead players, keep thinking it is just bad luck biting you in the tush. Go ahead Rizzo and keep thinking just becasue you got a guy that eventually he will be good.

  11. SCNatsFan - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    And playoffs? You guys are dreaming. I'm a huge Nats fan but what has anyone seen in this team all year that leads anyone to believe this is a playoff team. Focus on realistic goals like playing .500 baseball for the rest of the year.

  12. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Correction (more coffee, plz): Couldn't read the story on the site because the video started playing automatically and the commercial's audio of marching boots freaked out the cat. Didn't see the whole game but do know how it ended. Le. Sigh.

  14. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Laddie, nice summation. On the choice of the Manager, it has to be someone who Werth wants or it will be a short-term mistake since Werth has 4 more years, 4 more years.

  15. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    I do find all this continuing talk of the playoffs to be kind of silly. At this point I would like to see the team sslvage the season by pulling it together , playing some good baseball , finishing over five hundred and no lower than second. Maybe start fixing some things. Um– the bench? And for goodness sake, get Tyler Moore up here pronto. As for Zim- please remember he had major surgery in January. He was barely playing catch in ST. It's not just his shoulder, but his whole body was inactive. Give him an off season to be in his usual shape. I am anxiously waiting to see who the new manager will be as I DO think it will make a works of difference. These are talented guys who came out of ST completely unprepared. I read that they are the third youngest team by average age. That us not a veteran team that only needs a few reps and can just hang out. They need plenty of guidance. The defense was not sharp from the beginning.

  16. sjm308 - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Good Morning All:I did not comment after last nights game. Just too depressing. Wednesday's game will be the last one in person for me for almost a month. I didn't plan for this to be as much of a relief as it will be but I will be in places I never dreamed of starting on Friday. I think it was Candide that turned me on to the baseball team in Bratislavia last year. I will be looking for teams in Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and am pretty sure I will actually find a game in Greece but it will be super hot so I will just find some nice cafe and drink wine. (actually that is what I will be doing in all those countries). I am hoping that on Wed. I will be leaving the park with a happy feeling of at least seeing a win. I also hope that time away from the internet and this team will rejuvinate me and on Aug. 29th I will actually be watching meaningful baseball. I am not talking about still being in this mathematically. I am talking about being within 3 games of the wild card. I don't expect that because I just don't see how we turn a switch and play differently but I can still root for that. Off to start packing!!Go Nats!!

  17. Whack-a-Mule - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    "I mean, that's baseball," manager Davey Johnson said. "But boy, we needed that one."Mule, although a diffident creature by nature, must disagree with Mr. Johnson on this. What was played out last night was not "baseball", but rather "Nats baseball", a distinctly inferior version of the real thing.The Nats were out-played in all phases of the game save pitching. The Braves are not more talented than the Nats; perhaps less so. But they are a TEAM, playing with attitude, energy and finesse. Panache, if you will. As such, they make their own luck. They proactively, aggressively win games, rather that wait around (passively) for something serendipitous to happen.The Braves are this year's team (at least in the N.L.East). The Nats must "wait until next year."

  18. Candide - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Had a ski club training session last night so didn't get to see the game. But had MLB At Bat going on my tablet and people kept mouthing at me, "What's the score…?"Was in the car on my way home during the 9th inning, heard Charlie and Dave describing Desmond's play to catch Uggla trying to swipe an extra base. Let me tell you, those guys know how to describe a play – when I found the video of it just a couple of minutes ago, it looked exactly as I'd imagined it from their description. And they said – a couple of times – that "Desmond sees the game…" So much insight in those few words.Charlie and Dave. None better.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    "I think it's just terrible and disgusting how everyone has treated Lance Armstrong, especially after what he achieved, winning seven Tour de France races while on drugs. When I was on drugs, I couldn't even find my bike."Willie NelsonGotta love old Willie

  20. Section 222 - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Stick a fork in 'em, they're done. It will still be fun to watch major league baseball in my hometown, but I'm sure not going to be watching the out of town scoreboard for some hint of hope for a WC berth. It's just not happening. I never would have thought I'd be saying this on August 6. Baseball is a cruel mistress.

  21. karlkolchak - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Sadly, we likely will not even get the "fun" of seeing some fresh faces during the September call ups. Other than Matt Purke (who is struggling at Potomac and not likely to get the call) and journeyman reliever Tyler Roberston (not pitching well at Syracuse) every single player on the 40-man roster has been up with The Nats at least once.

  22. NatsLady - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Candide, I was on my way home from work when I heard C&D's description of that play. Wonderful. You know, so many times this year I've seen Desi backing up RZim, getting to balls RZ didn't. I know it's what he's supposed to to, but the contrast between Desi's range and Zim's is stark. Really, really hope it's a matter of health for the FOF and next year he will be back to form.

  23. Doc - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I see the problem here.The hitting coach can't hit with men on 3B. We've seen it happen with two of them this year.

  24. Tcostant - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Span is right, Davey should know that bunting for a hit when the team is playing for a sacrifice bunt is just silly.Davey with decide you want to hit / hit and run / or sacrifice; but don't give your hitter mixed message of trying to bunt for a hit in that situation.Last year, if we were in a tie game last and both starters were out of the game, I was expecting to win because of our pen. Sadly, this year, same situation and now I expect to loss. Sad but true.

  25. NatsLady - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Agree. Span did the right thing, and with the WP, it should have worked. Maybe Span didn't "hustle" enough to 1B, but I looked at the play, don't think he would have ever been safe. Davey's thinking process is strange.

  26. D'Gourds - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    FP Santangelo would actually be an excellent choice for manager. He has managerial experience in the minors. He's super baseball smart. He certainly knows the team as well as anyone already. Players seem to like him. He'd be great with the press. Why not him?

  27. NatsLady - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I like FP. He has certainly improved as a broadcaster–a lot. (Carp has stayed Carp.) Don't know if he is ML managerial material but I like thinking "outside the box."

  28. SCNatsFan - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Doesn't matter what sign Span got, Span was horrible. He bunted hard right to the charging guy, and if the pitcher hadn't encroached and got between the 3Bman and 2B then the out would have been at second. Unless the sign was for bunt really hard right at someone in a situation they will be looking for a bunt. Then Span did his job.

  29. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    There's plenty of blame to go around as to why we haven't played better as a team,especially since the end of June, but seriously, in spite of his mostly great defense, Desmond in his last 31 games, in 109 AB's, has 5 RBI's. People talk about ALR, RZimm, Span, but Desi has been awful with runners on base. 31 games is not really a small sample size. I haven't looked up how many GIDP's or fielder's choice's he's hit in to in that time, but I would think that the number is staggering.

  30. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    I also like FP as a broadcaster. I believe he was a hitting coach rather than a manager in the minors.

  31. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    I have been watching baseball for many, many years and yet I have learned a lot from FP. I am more worried that the national outlets will poach him. As for the team- the fan base needs to just let go and find a way to enjoy the game for it's own sake. There is something in every game that is either fun, admirable or surprising. Today I am grateful that Gio was cleared. Stras is learning to be a major league pitcher and Rendon is learning to be a major league player. If you can only enjoy watching if your team is in first place and dominating, you will be disappointed most of the time. At this point, I relate to this team more in their struggles , and I am pulling for them to figure it out and rise above. It will be more satisfying when they eventually succeed.

  32. Doc - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Yeah, you're right about Desi, Seams.In a recent game, they walked ALR to get to Desi, and he GIDB on the 1st pitch!My own amateur understanding of these guys, is that they don't know how to hit with RISP. Desi's the perfect example, of late. He reves it up, when he should be revving it down.Desi was on track for 100 ribis this season; now he'll be lucky to get 70!

  33. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    basballswami, great post @ 11:56 AM I'm not sure that I ever agreed more with any post ever made.

  34. MicheleS - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Swami, if there was a "LIKE" button, I would be hitting it now for your post at 11:56

  35. SCNatsFan - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    swami you are correct; Thursday I'm going to see the PNats here in Myrtle Beach and I'll enjoy the game because I don't care who wins and I love baseball. I need to bring that back to the MLB level.

  36. Doc - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Me too, Swam and your post @11:56. Thanks!Really, we don't need to appreciate the Nats in many more ways than you have discussed. If we expect them to be in the World Series every year, we shall be at the pharmacy counter for large bottles of Prozac!It's a game, sportsfans, and we're not even the players!

  37. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Only a few times in my life has " my team" had a magical year. I actually don't remember the records of my teams' seasons. I remember who I was with at games, special individual and team performances, awesome days and nights at the parks. Even this year, I had fun at games with my kids and their spouses, with friends. I remember some good and bad events on the field at those games, but I already don't remember the scores. Glad there are some kindred spirits out there who don't need to be medicated over baseball.

  38. Kirbs - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    We all got to remember. Rizzo has ALWAYS said that he was building this team for 2014. The Soriano signing kinda goes against that, but I'm wondering if there is some manager somewhere who he has always wanted that is available to sign after this year for his 2014 promises.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Joe, you are right about Desi and like most of this team they choke in Hi Lev situations. Only Bryce and Ramos got good wood on balls in Hi Lev but hit it right to them and Rendon got the Sac.Strasburg summed it up well in the postgame. The Braves weak hits that found holes vs the Nats line drives that found fielders.

  40. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I hate excuses, but it is accurate that BABIP was not our friend in that game. And the hottest hitter in the NL was on the bench. You are not paranoid if the baseball gods are actually out to get you. Yes, mistakes were made- but it does seem that this year we just do not get away with a single thing. I am not above begging for some luck.

  41. Doc - Aug 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Swam, I've been thinking about those issues myself most recently.Regardless of the reasons for the hard data of stats this year, we're not getting the breaks this year that we got last year.Just the same, the new manager will have to work on the weaknesses, e.g., Ramos catching pop fouls, SS holding runners, Desi GIDPs with RISP, RZim's throws, etc.

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Nats made 7 mistakes and Braves made 4. None bigger than having Minor face Hairston to start the 7th and the Nats couldn't capitalize. Freddy immediately pulled Minor for Carpenter but it should've been 1 batter too late.

  43. Alan G. Ampolsk - Aug 6, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    2013 team BABIP of .283 (according to Fangraphs) suggests that there's some bad luck at work. That's not the whole story – there's enough poor execution to go around – but there might also be a role for balls in play with no eyes. Just a thought.

  44. baseballswami - Aug 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    We could make a list a mile long of things that have contributed to the Nats woes this season. Anything that can go wrong…….,

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    baseballswami said… We could make a list a mile long of things that have contributed to the Nats woes this season. Anything that can go wrong……., August 06, 2013 2:22 PM You are right and that is the Baseball BABIP Gods taking more than they are giving. LaRoche smashes one up the middle and Andrelton Simmons is standing right there—is that great scouting by them or bad luck by the Nats?The Nats defensive alignments as I pointed out in April were as if Tarasco didn't pay attention to a scouting report. It's gotten much better but it's also having the top OF defense playing.Hairston finally showed what he can do as a RH vs LHP last night but then Davey somehow thought he could hit Carpenter. Wrong. Is that bad luck or poor scouting or just plain commonsense that 80% of all stat geeks would know.I guess it goes back to making your own luck.

  46. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Alan G. Ampolsk said… 2013 team BABIP of .283 (according to Fangraphs) suggests that there's some bad luck at work. That's not the whole story – there's enough poor execution to go around – but there might also be a role for balls in play with no eyes. Just a thought. I think execution has gotten better under Schu but you still have to go with the stats when it is clear like pulling Hairston with a game on the line.The other thing is that LaRoche K'd in a clutch situation and so did Werth and Desi hit a tapper and RZim K'd and Span gave himself up in a sacrifice without sprinting to 1st.If your Big Four are choking, you can't hope for the Young 3 to bail you out and I give a pass to Werth who has been MVP the last month.

  47. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    I think execution, so far, has gotten better under Schu against weak teams. Period. As to Werth's K, my question during the game was why was he even up? Have anybody bunt Hairston to 3rd, or bring in one of the 3 LH batters you had on the bench, Tracy, Bernadina, and Span at that point. If you're not going to use Tracy or Shark in that situation, why are they on the team? No confidence in them? Then get rid of them as you're playing with one arm tied behind your back.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Joe Seamhead, as soon as that happened with Werth coming in I posted and MrsB and someone else with the same question.Kolko asked Davey why he didn't leave Strasburg in (just) for bunting and Davey sounded confused and started talking about Strasburg's pitch counts. He's lost it. Scarey. I suggested at the time JZim to bunt but certainly Stras could bunt for himself and then get replaced by Clippard.

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