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After rare meltdown, Nationals will try to regroup

Jul 29, 2014, 12:35 AM EST

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MIAMI — The 2014 Nationals really haven’t had to deal with losses like this, gut-punch losses in which a 6-run lead somehow turns into a 7-6 loss before anyone has sufficient time to process the carnage.

The mood inside the visitors clubhouse at Marlins Park on Monday night was one of disbelief, a group of players and coaches shell-shocked after a rare implosion by the Nationals bullpen, most notably closer Rafael Soriano, charged with four runs in the fateful and disastrous bottom of the ninth.

“No excuse,” Soriano said. “Every pitch that I throw, I don’t think I have the good command that I have before. A bad day for me and for my team.”

Yet as the shock began to wear off and the larger picture began to come back into focus, players in every corner of that clubhouse insisted this team won’t let this loss, staggering as it was, carry over in any way.

“They’re fine,” said Matt Williams, who had his own series of managerial decisions to rehash when he left for the night. “A loss is a loss is a loss. It stings a little more when you’ve got the lead late and it doesn’t happen for you, but they’re resilient. If they’ve shown anything this year, they are that.”

The Nationals indeed have shown some resiliency this season, though mostly in the form of overcoming injuries and the occasional late deficit themselves. They have not, however, needed to bounce back from a loss like this, testament to just how good their bullpen has been since Opening Day.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had to deal with a lot of these,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “This is such a good bullpen that typically when we get up a few runs late, the game’s been over. So I think that’s kind of why it’s a shock, because it hasn’t happened much this year. But it’s going to. You play this many games, you’re going to see some crazy stuff. And this happened to be one of them.”

What lessons can the Nationals take from this one? There are no shortage.

— Don’t assume any lead is safe. Up 6-0 in the seventh inning, they had no reason to think the outcome of this game was still in doubt. They perhaps acted a bit like it, though. Jordan Zimmermann, who carried a shutout into the seventh, started throwing fastballs over the plate and wound up surrendering back-to-back, two-out RBI hits, ultimately bringing his evening to an earlier exit than planned. The right-hander looked like he could go the distance. Instead, with the score now 6-2 and his pitch count at 91, he was pulled.

— Don’t attempt to make unnecessary plays when trying to protect a sizable lead. When the score was still 6-0, Nate McLouth (who had just taken over in right field for an injured Jayson Werth) attempted to make a diving catch of Garret Jones’ sinking liner. McLouth didn’t come all that close to pulling off the play, instead letting the ball get past him and roll to the wall for an RBI triple. If he simply keeps the ball in front of him, the seventh inning (and everything after that) might play out in a different manner.

— Don’t stick with old-school pitching roles based on stats instead of sensing who has the hot hand and who doesn’t. Drew Storen entered with two outs in the eighth to face Giancarlo Stanton in what was now a 6-3 game with another runner on third. Storen proceeded to back the big slugger off the plate with an inside fastball before getting him to flail at a couple of sliders outside. It was a masterful performance by Storen, taking up only four pitches, and it suggested he was feeling particularly good on this night. So why not stick with him for the ninth inning? Because the Nationals led by three runs, and that meant this was a save situation, and Soriano is this team’s closer. What’s remarkable is that had the score been 7-3 instead of 6-3, with the save no longer in play, Williams probably would have stayed with Storen. But Williams — like just about every other MLB manager, it should be noted — always goes to his closer in a save situation.

— Don’t stick with the closer once it becomes obvious he doesn’t have it. When Soriano threw four straight balls to open the ninth, alarm bells should have been ringing. As good as the veteran right-hander has been this season, he has over time shown that when things go bad, they really go bad. Sure enough, Soriano followed the leadoff walk with a double to Jones, then an RBI single to Marcell Ozuna, then a sacrifice fly to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, then an RBI triple to Adeiny Hechavarria that tied the game. Not until Soriano plunked pinch-hitter Donovan Solano — the fifth Marlins batter to reach base out of six who stepped to the plate in the inning — did Williams emerge from the dugout to take the ball from Soriano.

To be fair, Williams’ options at that point were limited. Tyler Clippard was unavailable after throwing 21 pitches Sunday in Cincinnati. Storen and Ross Detwiler had already been used. Craig Stammen needed to be saved for extra innings. Aaron Barrett had struggled in the ninth on Sunday.

So Williams waited until the Marlins had a left-handed hitter at the plate in Christian Yelich before summoning for Jerry Blevins. Blevins did his job, striking out Yelich on a 2-2 pitch. But now the lefty had to stay in to face Jeff Baker. Right-handed batters are hitting .324 against Blevins this season, and Baker proceeded to drill a changeup over Bryce Harper’s head in left field for the game-winner.

“No margin for error there,” Blevins said. “I was focused in on getting Yelich, trying to get him to swing at a pitch that I feel comfortable with, and I got him out. Then I wanted to get ahead of Baker, I wanted to throw a changeup down. It didn’t get down and we lose the game.”

“Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t work, and tonight, it didn’t,” Williams said. “But we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

That was the message being delivered throughout a sullen clubhouse late Monday night.

“It’s, whatever,” Werth said. “You move on. Things happen. We’ll be fine. We’re a resilient team. Got a long way to go. We’ve got a good club. I like the way things set up for us and the way we’re playing. It’s just one game.”

  1. NatsLady - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Don’t forget Werth going for the extra base with the 6-0 lead in the 7th inning. Maybe he didn’t know he’d get hurt (hindsight) but he had to know he could get thrown out. Also, isn’t that against the unwritten rules?

    • Nats Amore - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      You make a great point. When I first saw JZim with the sac bunt up 6-0 in the 6th and then Werth’s attempted stretch in the 7th, I’m thinking “isn’t this a bit rubbing it in the Marlins’ faces”? And this truly was one of those 1 in 100 games where following the unwritten rules of baseball etiquette seemed appropriate but turned out not to be.

      • NatsLady - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        Werth said in the WaPo article he would do it again.

    • bowdenball - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      It’s a good point, but it Werth’s defense I thought it was a sure double as it trickled into the corner. Stanton was moving in the opposite direction of 2B to field it. It’s not that easy to gauge in a split-second. Still not a smart move considering, but not really an obvious error like for example leaving Blevins in to face a righty with the game on the line.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:50 AM

    I thought I could sleep well. 4 hours of restless sleeping. Thanks Soriano for nothing.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:43 AM

      Yeah… I know what you mean… Just not sure what MW was thinking…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:49 AM

        If Clip wasn’t really available, then MW was praying that Marlins hitters would be unlucky and hit them right to fielders which didn’t happen.

        Choices were Barrett, Stammen and Blevins at the time. Not exactly the 3 you want when the game is falling apart.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:10 AM

        I don’t think I can buy that…. Becuz didnt Sori just pitch, the last 3 out of 4? And didnt he labor yesterday (gave up a run if I remember although it wasn’t charged to him)… So If Clipp wasn’t available, then how was Sori?

  3. rabbit433 - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:02 AM

    Well, it’s making for an interesting season! Now, just win this series! No biggie.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:06 AM

      NatsJack, so much for whatever Kasten said.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        It was just last week. He was talking to Bowden his radio show.

        But I didn’t believe him. I never do.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        Exactly. He’s always been a double-talker.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:47 AM

      Looking to replace D Haren?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:53 AM

        Yes but also to upgrade behind Kershaw and Greinke for the playoffs as Beckett and Ryu have had their injuries.

        Immediate need is they want to replace Haren and go on a roll. While they feel good about making the postseason, winning their division is a crap shoot with as poorly as Haren is pitching.

  5. scnatsfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:43 AM

    In a game of bad decisions the team goat goes to…. God so many choices.

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Even with the base running mistake Werth made… And the lay out attempt by NM… Nats still lead 6-3 in the bottom of the 9th… Why Storen only comes in for 1 batter, when he was clearly hot and ready to face more, idk… Why Sori comes in even, idk… Why Sori was allowed to stay past the 3rd batter when he was not fooling anyone and pitching BP, idk… Why MW leaves Blevins in to face a righty when EVERYTHING SUGGESTS THAT HE DOESNT PITCH WELL AGAINST RIGHTYS, idk…

    The big marine has a lot to atone for in this game… His 9th inning management was a disaster.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:12 AM

      Nats win tonight and you turn the page.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:17 AM

        Everyone does…. But winning tonight doesn’t dismiss the fact, that this was a win that got away…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:19 AM

        True. It hurts. June 21 2012

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:20 AM

        July 21 2012

  7. Another_Sam - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    One run games bring out the armchair experts. So – here I am. IMHO The only real bone to pick is NM’s outfield play. But it’s all baseball.

    • chaz11963 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      Not true Sam, I think a lot of MW’s decisions at the end of the game are real head scratchers. He should never have left Soriano in for so long. He really gave away the game.

  8. Another_Sam - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    I read the posts and think I’m looking at the wrong standings board. This club is on top – right?

    • Nats Amore - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Sure they’re on top, but by a half a game (two in the loss column to be fair) with about 60 left. In other words, the division title is still totally up for grabs, and the only way to increase the lead to something meaningful is to take advantage of the chances you have to gain a game on your challenger. That said, I remain very optimistic about the Nats’ chances.

      • NatsLady - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        The Oakland A’s agree with this. They lost last night to the Astros, cutting their lead to 1.5…

  9. laddieblahblah - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    The Nats will be fine. It’s the Ghost I’m worried about.

    Davey had an approach that I thought was very prudent, and very smart, and very simple. He tried to have 2 set-up men and 2 closers, just for circumstances as last night’s, when both the primary set-up man and the closer had both seen a lot of work, and both needed a night off.

    Davey’s problem was that he did not have the horses that Matt has now. At one point Lidge was his secondary closer, and HRod was, at another. And he had a Rule 5 pickup, Brian Broderick, that had to be carried in his pen, effectively reducing Davey’s stable to only 6 horses, instead of 7. Matt already has a former closer on his staff (Storen – and Clip, too). Why not designate Storen as his backup guy when Soriano needs a night off? Storen would have finished off that game last night, IMO, without breaking a sweat.

    “So If Clipp wasn’t available, then how was Sori?”

    Beats the heck out of me. Maybe we should ask Emily Post about the proper protocol in that situation.

    I liked the way Bryce made contact last night. If he has his hitting groove back, then he could solve the 5-hole problem in the order. Matt could slot him in the 3-hole, and move Werth to the 5-hole behind La Roche and ahead of Ramos (when he is in there) thereby allowing Desi to resume his accustomed role as the most productive 7-hole hitter in baseball. When Lobaton is in there, just slide Desi up to the 6-hole. Desi is now 2 for 20 since Matt stuck him in the 5-hole, with 3 walks (that’s from memory, so I may be off by 1). Take the Mendosa line, slice it in half, and you have the Desmond line in the 5-hole.

    Espinosa is demonstrating that his RH bat is worth keeping in that lineup against lefties. Another big, clutch hit from Danny from the right side, again, last night – a 2-out, 2-run bases loaded single that seemed, at the time, to be a game-clincher.

    And JZ has got his groove back, big time. Maybe that was the best news on a dreadful, forgettable night in Miami. Gio demonstrated that his shoulder is not an issue for him, too. The Nats’ rotation seems as healthy and as ready as at any time this year, just when they need those guys the most.

    The news wasn’t all bad last night.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      Don’t worry about my lack of sleep or deep indigestion and burning in my chest.

      This may have been the sign to Rizzo and ownership to get the improvements.

      I’ve been saying for weeks to send Barrett back to AAA and get him settled down and hungry again and bring me Treinen. That guy is stone cold killer. I still want Ziegler. He was great again in relief last night and they are overworking him. Those sidearm guys can frustrate any batter.

      Taylor Hill becomes emergency starter.

      If you aren’t going to get us Beltre, Castro or Utley, then get me Cody Ross or one of the 4 other pinch-hitter names I mentioned as Hairston’s replacement. One faced the Nats last night but doubt he’s available as the Marlins might be buyers themselves now.

      Do not sit on your hands.

  10. ArVAFan - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    It’s all Joe West’s fault. If he hadn’t called “balk” on Barrett earlier this year on his effective pitching motion, Barrett’s pitching would have been better the night before, and Sori would have had that night off and been better last night. Or maybe it’s the minor league pitching coach who let Barrett develop that motion without realizing it wouldn’t play in the Bigs.

    On to tonight: (1) get another great pitching performance and (2) don’t waste it!

    • rmoore446 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      This is funny! First smile of the day. I’d love to blame it on Joe West and move away from the debris field of last night’s game.

  11. chaz11963 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    Hard to disagree with this:

    http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=340728128

  12. mrnat7 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    I’ve never found in the fundamentals of baseball a pitcher in relief can only pitch certain innings. Storm after pitching to one hitter and striking him out is pulled so Sori can pitch and try and get a save. Is this in Sori’s contract to receive all the save situations? In my book Storm tries to finish the game and takes tonight off . We have to many copy cat Managers who think relief pitchers can only pitch one inning.

  13. philipd763 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    I don’t blame Soriano for the meltdown. We all know he’s not that reliable and his stats lie. I blame Matt Williams for having his thumb up his butt last night. I really believe he’s scared of the cocky and surly Soriano and therefore was reluctant to yank him when the game was still salvageable. Williams can’t be that dumb.

    • adcwonk - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      We all know he’s not that reliable and his stats lie….

      Riiiggggthhhht.

      So that string of, what, 25 straight scoreless appearances, just a lie?

      Thanks for my early morning chuckle.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Soriano has appeared in 40 games so far this season. In 16 of them (40%) he has given up no baserunners at all. In another 12 (30%) he has given up only one baserunner. That’s right, 70% of the time he gives up one or no baserunners. You could look it up.

      • adcwonk - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        But the OP says all stats lie. What are you doing bringing facts into this for?

  14. Sam - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    Mark, I totally agree that Williams could have (and perhaps, should have) stayed with Storen for the ninth inning, but that’s a decision that has to be communicated to Soriano in advance. Something like, “You’re our closer; it’s 100% your job. However, in some cases, we may stick with the hot hand.” If that message wasn’t communicated to Soriano ahead of time, there’s reason for him to be skeptical that he has his manager’s faith. Of course, looking over the way he had performed this year, there is no reason for him or anyone to believe that. Still, in the heat of the moment, you don’t want a team member to think that he’s lost his job – even if it only happens a handful of times the whole year.

    Having said all that, I have no idea if Williams has communicated that message to Soriano. If he has and he still decided to go to Soriano in the 9th, then I think it was a mistake. Too many “what if” scenarios for me to really know – just my speculation.

  15. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Arguably the problem goes back to Barrett’s clunker the day before. According to one source Williams had planned to rest Soriano on Sunday but when Barrett coughed up two runs it morphed into a save situation. Another sign Barrett, who is a fine prospect, is not yet ready for prime time. Cue the Hot Stove League: What will the Nats do about the closer role in the off season?

    Where I have a problem is the so-called “closer’s role.” They’re paying Soriano $14MM to close, so — unless Williams saw something Saturday that alarmed him, and obviously he didn’t — you let him start the 9th; clearly, Soriano is not someone you bring in w/ runners on base. But last night after the first five pitches it was clear it wasn’t working. Everything was flat, and up. But Blevins would have been just as inadequate with a runner on and nobody out as he turned out to be w/ one out and a bunch of ducks on the pond. Hobson’s Choice.

    I think the right play, if Williams was really committed to resting Cllippard, would have been to bring Detwiler out for the eighth, even though he didn’t really impress in the seventh. He’s a big strong guy, power arm, former starter who should have been able to pitch to more than four hitters.

    So maybe the culprit in this story isn’t Barrett but Zimmermann, and the Nats chronic inability to get extended innings from their starters. (I know, I’m ignoring McLouth’s contribution.) And if there’s a nice LH relief pitcher available between now and Thursday the Nats should probably go after him.

    [Sidebar: I really think Williams has Clippard’s and Storen’s roles backward. Clippard should be the seventh inning guy. And if he were the seventh inning guy he could have come in to clean up Zimmermann’s mess by facing one batter before turning over the eighth to Storen.]

    • Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      “Arguably the problem goes back to Barrett’s clunker the day before. According to one source Williams had planned to rest Soriano on Sunday but when Barrett coughed up two runs it morphed into a save situation.”

      A great point. Not only did he not get to rest, he had to get ready in a hurry, and was dropped in to a high stress situation.

  16. tcostant - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Soriano just didn’t have it last night (he didn’t look so good in the save the day before either). I could see it, you likely saw it and the guys on TV were noting that all his pitches were right in the zone. I would have got him out of there at 6-5 but was so glad when MW did get him out of there at 6-6. Blevins did his job vs. the lefty, but I was saying to my wife, get him out now and I rather see Barrett. Painful loss.

    Also Espi’s bonehead play to not tag out a guy right next to you (and got the out at first instead) blowing the chance for a double play was just bad for guy know for his defense. The week before he dropped a pop up that the OF could have and should have got, I’m so over him and want to see more of Walters.

  17. lovedanats - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Baseball is full of superstition. Mine is that a 6-0 score where Nats lead is the unluckiest score in baseball. I always root for them to tack on at least one more. I can thank the trauma of Game 5 for that one.

    • adcwonk - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      I think the key is right in MZ’s title: A rare meltdown. Every team has them of this magnitude, and in the back of my mind, all season long, I’ve been thinking: gee, this hasn’t happened to us yet, I wonder if this is the night it will . . . .

      The fact that they are pretty rare for the Nats is why they have among the best record in the NL.

      FWIW, I hadn’t been paying attention, but my workmate tells me that the Dodgers are going to skip over Haren, so that Grienke and Kershaw are lined up to pitch against the Braves Wednesday and Thursday. (That was the best news I’ve heard this morning!) (See http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/schedule/sortable.jsp?c_id=la&year=2014)

  18. MicheleS - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Better learn this lesson now than in October

    • lovedanats - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      Agree.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        The key is “is it learned”

    • tcostant - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      Thank you, something to take from this train wreck.

  19. coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Just strange game but I’ve always been put off by the Monday morning quarterbacking like the above. I would have like to see storen come back out (and of course no need for mclouth) but I can live with the rest of it. Interested to see the BABIP switch from innings 1-6 and 7-9 (marlins had a bit of bad luck turn good and is vice versa- see jzim).

    • coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      *jzim’s awesome grab for starters). Sori gets tonight off leaving clip for the save op I assume hoping it comes up? Should be interesting

    • adcwonk - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      Monday morning quarterbacking

      Just for the record: I was yelling at my TV (and my wife and son were there as witnesses): “Don’t let Blevins pitch to the righty!!” (Even though, granted, I had no idea who was available in the ‘pen)

      • coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        Ha ditto, except I was watching the marlins broadcast on the AFN and they just seemed baffled by it all.

    • tcostant - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Coop that’s what Blogs do, you might want to go read a good book instead of coming here…

      • coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Wasn’t talking about the blog chief.

      • coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Also just to be fair I usually tune in to see what’s going on in game because I tend not to be able to watch. Only could see last night because it made the AFN broadcast.

  20. sjm308 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    That was rough.
    We chuckle with glee when we read or hear about Kimbrill blowing a save so I guess these things sorta even out.

    This great game gives you so much to talk about as Mark and others on here have noted.
    I am happy to read that no one wants MW replaced or sent to his room but my thoughts are he made several mistakes. Of course during the action this is just so much more difficult but I also wonder why Storen was not sent out to finish the game, and then wonder why Soriano was left in for such a long time. I had not thought about Detwiler coming back out for the 8th but that makes sense as well.

    Hoping we can win another series (that would make 5 in a row I think)

    With Soriano struggling two games in a row is Clippard your closer tonight? Maybe we can enter the 9th with a big lead and not have to find out.

    Even though we lost, very pleased to see JZimmnn back on track
    Happy to see Bryce find his swing
    Happy to see Espinosa contributing

    Go Nats!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      LaRoche also swinging well.

      Soriano did exactly what Barrett did the day before by putting the first 2 on base.

      Difference is MW sprung into panic mode and got Soriano in there.

      If Clip truly wasn’t available, Stammen should’ve been up and heating quickly but MW may not have had confidence in Stammen and thought Soriano would get out of it.

      If you don’t have confidence in Stammen or Barrett, replace them. If you do, use them. Nobody has confidence in Blevins getting out right-handers and it’s not good to leave your closer in while he’s self-destructing. As someone wrote, it was like watching HenRod. Have to have options in case of emergency.

      If lesson was learned, move on. Nats still in 1st Place.

  21. Dave - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    Both the “save” and the “win” are loathsome statistics that are arbitrary and cause managers to do stupid things. I wish they would disappear from the game.

    We saw MW manage to the save stat two days in a row with negative results. We lucked out on Sunday; Monday was a disaster.

  22. Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    If McCatty and Williams and/or Clip truly felt Clip wasn’t ready due to the workload from the night before, then putting him in would’ve been worse than losing this game. That’s a Fredi move, and we’ve all seen how their elbows do down there in Hotlanta.

    If I grant that, then only bones I have to pick are McClouth’s poor judgement and not giving Storen the 9th, with the latter being hard to judge *too* harshly. Either you trust Sori or you don’t, and Williams has no choice but to trust him. And, his stats this season certainly give him cause to do so confidently.

    I think it’s worth noting that Clip had a really rough start to the season, but MW stuck with him, didn’t change his role, and has been rewarded mightily for it. I hope things play out the same with Sori going forward from here.

    Werth’s effort to stretch a double was boneheaded, but I don’t think you can really blame the loss on it in any real way. Harper’s failure to score on Espi’s ground out hurt, but I really think he (or maybe Henley?) thought it was catchable, and was worried about being doubled off.

    • coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      That piece by Danny is one of the bad luck BABIP pieces. Hech made a hell of a play on a hard hit ball (he stared down Bryce while spinning on the ground, just all around good play) and I think bryce is being a little more careful after the last few games.

      • Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        It really was. We made some bad mistakes/possibly had our hands tied (Clip), but they also executed really well at the end, both on O and D. Had we played tight, we would’ve won, but you still have to tip your cap some. Coming back on a 6-0 deficit in the 7th isn’t easy under any circumstances.

  23. NatsNut - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Wait, haven’t we already learned this lesson? (cough..game 5…cough)

    “Don’t assume any lead is safe. Up 6-0 in the seventh inning”

    • bowdenball - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Game 5 of the NLDS was already 6-3 after 5 innings. It was more of a slow bloodletting punctured by a finishing move than the late-inning collapse we saw yesterday.

  24. Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    PS – I’d like to add one thing to the great list of positives sjm posted above:
    – The game thread was a lot of fun last night, and, for the most part, it stayed…reasonable…even after the wheels came off. There were blips (which imo should’ve remained entirely in place for people to own their actions), but considering the magnitude of the implosion, it was impressively smooth sailing, imo.

  25. NatsLady - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    I haven’t put up my game post yet, but, as requested, I did put up a poll so you all can vote (er, vent) on the result of the Marlins series? Do you think the Nats will be so demoralized they’ll get swept? Or recover to win the series. If you go to the blog (here), and put your mouse to the upper right corner, you’ll find the poll.

    • Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      I’ll take the poll, but in the interest of conversation here, I’ll say that I’m dubious about Stras tonight; hopeful about Roark tomorrow. I give us an 80% chance of avoiding the sweep, a 30% chance of winning the series. I’m 37.3% confident in the accuracy of my odds predictions ;)

      • NatsLady - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        LOL on the calculations. I too feel that the results of the series depend on Stras, on Werth’s ankle, on Giancarlo’s homers and a lot of other stuff and NOT on an emotional letdown from last night’s game. Learned that in 2012. That’s why fans should have long memories and players should have short ones.

    • adcwonk - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      Do you think the Nats will be so demoralized…

      No. Not at all. Meltdowns happen from time to time. It’s part of every season. There were some good signs last night, and I’m sure the players are aware of them, as well as knowing that the meltdowns have been so rare.

      Players know they have to have “short memories”.

      Let’s kick some butt tonight, guys!

      • breakbad1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        NL–thanks for doing this. I was among the distraught group on last night’s thread that believed the loss would carry over. In fact I suggested doing a poll–and you’ve done it! So thank you.

        When I click the upper right bar-chart icon, I get the story of another gut-wrenching loss from 2012, but I don’t see the poll itself. I’ll gladly register my despair if I can find that poll–can you post a link?

        Thanks again, and I really am hoping you’re right about all this.

  26. Section 222 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    I think the right play, if Williams was really committed to resting Cllippard, would have been to bring Detwiler out for the eighth, even though he didn’t really impress in the seventh.

    So maybe the culprit in this story isn’t Barrett but Zimmermann, and the Nats chronic inability to get extended innings from their starters.

    Not sure what game you were watching. JZnn went seven innings. Det did pitch the 8th. And Storen finished it by striking out Stanton on four pitches. Clip was unavailable because he felt tired according to Williams in the post game We didn’t know that at the time, but that’s what MW was working with. The right play, as you call it, would have been to leave Storen in for the 9th and hope to give Sori the night off. That was even more obviously the thing to do with Clipp unavailable to bail out Sori, or pitch in extras.

    Not having Clip available made hooking Sori after a few batters more problemmatic. Maybe you go Barrett and hope for the best, or call on Stammen and basically concede the game if it goes past 10 innings.

    Silver lining was JZnn’s superb pitching and Harper squaring one up. Those two could carry us a long way.

    • adcwonk - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      and Harper squaring one up

      He actually hit two that were 100+ mph.

      • stoatva - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        I’m ready to see Harper move up in the lineup. Of course I’m ready to be done with the notion that certain pitchers are “entitled” to pitch certain innings and any variation from those roles is a disrespect to them.

  27. stoatva - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    We will never know for sure, but I think Harper would have been DOA at home. Hechavarria had him in his sights as he was fielding that ball, and it think that was the play he was expecting to make, rather than spinning and firing to first. JMTC.

  28. Section 222 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    I want to comment on several aspects of the criticism of MW’s bullpen decisions last night. This had nothing to do with Sori’s contract, or with some sense that he “deserves” to pitch the 9th. He’s not afraid of Sori’s “surly manner.” (That’s a crock by the way.) And it has nothing to do with player over team or wanting to pad Sori’s stats. It’s all about MW’s conventional view of the bullpen. The cult of the closer I call it. He believes, as did Davey, that when there’s a save situation and your closer if available you use him. No matter how advisable going with someone else might be, like last night. And once you bring him in you stick with him even if it’s clear that he doesn’t have it. He thinks this about his setup guy too. Remember early in the year when he’d leave Clip in even when he was clearly off his game? MW is a conventional manager in this sense, unable to see the forest for the trees.

    Last night, with Clip unavailable, his bullpen options were limited. It was a perfect situation to let Drew close out the game. He three four pitches in the 8th and clearly had his A game. If he faltered in the 9th, he could bring on Sori as he did the night before. But he burned a reliever when his pen was already short. Bad move. It’s his fault, and there’s absolutely no reason to deflect any blame for the decision to Sori. Sori’s pitching performance, of course, is another matter.

    • 6ID20 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      Name one manager in MLB today who doesn’t automatically go to his closer in a save situation.

      • Section 222 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        I’ll bet Joe Madden would have kept Storen in. LaRussa might have too, when he was around. But even if no one would, that doesn’t make the cult of the closer right.

        My point, of course, was that this was MW’s problem, and didn’t have a think to do with Sori’s personality or contract. Do you disagree?

    • Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      On a tangential note, are there every contractual stipulations specifying how a player will be used? For instance, is it possible that Soriano’s contract includes a clause along the lines of, “if available, Soriano will always be the first choice to pitch in a save situation, and will only ever pitch in the 9th”?

      I first thought of this back when Clip was going through his early rough patch and people were clamoring for him to switch roles with Storen, at least temporarily.

      • 6ID20 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM

        No.

      • Section 222 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Not possible.

  29. manassasnatsfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    There are 2 positives. I looked at the standings and we are still in first. Also Mike Dunn got the win. Mike Dunn? Yes he is on my fantasy team. But for that matter so is Zim and Soriano. But relief win in fantasy ball are like gold. Platinum is a complete game shut out, and I got that after wards with Vance Worley, so I ended up sleeping good.

  30. coop202 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Does stras’ horrible run in Miami combined with the “will we recover!!??” Question warrant a reverse lock today? Cause I could be down with that

  31. 6ID20 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    A Soriano meltdown last night was almost inevitable. First, Johnny and Ray spent about half the pre game show gushing over how good he is. Second, it’s the end of a long road trip meaning he’s been out of the hyperbaric chamber all that time. He needs to start carrying that thing along on the road trips like a vampire does his coffin.

    • Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      lmao!

  32. Eric - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Harper Gordek has a very interesting (imo) batter-by-batter breakdown of the 9th.

    He supports almost everything that was done (even if he doesn’t strictly agree) with the exceptions of precluding Clip and Barrett from the game before the game even started and not pulling Blevins to face Baker. He puts the loss pretty squarely on those decisions.

    • Section 222 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Interesting post. You’ll note that Harper G agrees that the cult of the closer is wrong in certain situations, including here:

      “The failures that had Soriano pitching the ninth are the failures of the game, not Williams. In fact, most people wouldn’t consider those decisions wrong. Even though I think they are, (especially if you know Clip and Barrett are not pitching tonight – makes a lot of sense then for the 4-out save) having a good pitcher in to pitch the ninth is never a bad thing and that’s where the Nats ended up.”

      Also, I’m pretty sure Clip himself had told MW he couldn’t go. I don’t think MW just unilaterally made that decision. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the game had gone to extras.

    • chaz11963 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      I’m a big fan of Harper. He’s analysis and insight is always very practical and sensible.

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