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Nats come up short

Aug 5, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

Photo by The Associated Press Photo by The Associated Press

The night started off well for the Nationals as they struck for three runs in the first four innings, entering the second half of their game with the Orioles holding a 3-1 lead.

Against most teams that would be a solid foundation for a win. Tanner Roark rarely gives up more than three runs and the Nats’ bullpen ranks among the best in the majors.

The Orioles, however, are not your ordinary opposing lineup. They present danger one through nine, or in Monday’s case one through eight. Few leads are safe, especially when they get a few looks at a given pitcher.

Sure enough, five runs for Baltimore in the seventh and eighth innings blew the game open and the Nationals lost 7-3. And afterwards, it was tough for manager Matt Williams to not look back at those early runs and wonder if the Nationals could have gotten more.

One of those runs came in the third inning off a sacrifice fly by Jayson Werth. The Nats right fielder came to the plate with no outs after Denard Span doubled and then moved to third on an Anthony Rendon single.

Werth drew a 3-0 count against Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, a noted delicacy for the veteran outfielder. Werth entered the at-bat 12-for-19 in his career at 3-0 with three home runs and 16 RBI. When he sees such a count, there is generally a green light.

As expected, Werth swung at the next pitch, a 96 mile per hour fastball. He got a good piece of it, though it soared straight to Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. Jones hopped to catch the ball on somewhat of a bad route, and Span scored easily.

Werth brought in a run, but he also gave the Nationals their first out of the inning. Adam LaRoche then flew out to right field, and Ian Desmond promptly grounded into a forceout at second.

Still, the Nationals got a run, but with two men on – one on third – with zero outs, they could have had more.

“Yeah, well, Jayson’s at-bat. It’s the sac fly, but it stops, potentially, that inning,” Williams said.

“If he gets a hit there, then we roll. But he did his job. He knocked the guy in from third base. Sometimes a homer will stop the parade, too. But he did a nice job of getting the guy in from third with a sac fly. That one was potentially setting up for a big one, but that’s the way the game goes.”

Werth, of course, did nothing wrong in the at-bat. He scored a run to give the Nationals back their lead after Caleb Joseph tied it a frame before with a solo home run. But still, they could have had more.

The next inning the Nats also found themselves with runners on the corners and no outs. Wilson Ramos was at the plate, and he also brought in a run on an out. Ramos hit into a double play to allow Bryce Harper to score from third. The Nats went up 3-1, but never scored again.

The Orioles would chip away with a run of their own in the fifth inning to make it 3-2, before exploding for the five runs later on. The Nationals struck first, but Baltimore stayed in it and came away with the win.

“They are in first place for a reason. They can hit the ball and it showed tonight,” Roark said.

“It kept in them in the game and obviously they ended up winning. But we face the Mets tomorrow, we got a big series against the Mets and we’ll face them tomorrow.”

  1. rmoore446 - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Just heard on the radio that Wilson Ramos will miss all of the Mets series as his wife is having a baby. Players are entitled to up to three days for paternity leave.

    • tcostant - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Heard the same, I have no problem with this as long as it’s not the playoffs.

      • rmoore446 - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Nor do I. It is a special time.

    • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      I have no problem with it, ever. He’s having a freaking baby. 3 days is criminally few, imo.

  2. scnatsfan - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    I will be trolling ebay starting tonight looking for my new office gnome. That is the only thing I am sure of about tonights game.

  3. alexva6 - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    listening to MW in the post game he says in one sentence that the bullpen has been pitching a lot and a minute later that it’s been tough to find innings for Stammen because the starters are going so deep. I’m not normally one to give much pause to players or coaches comments but, really?

    • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      If the starters go deep, he doesn’t get work, but the back end guys do. My inference is that the back end guys are ragged. I think this has been an ongoing issue, and the idea is to let them rest while we’re decently ahead of the Braves.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        Er, let them rest more than they might if you were playing catch up or had fewer than a 3-game lead.

      • alexva6 - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        in the pregame he said he pitched Soriano so he would have Stammen available for the 7th. he was perfectly set up but then decided not to pinch hit for Roark. I know bullpen management is a learning curve but here was a case when he had it right in front of him and didn’t pull the trigger. maybe Stammen’s results would be the same maybe not, but (hopefully) it’s another case of on the job training for MW.

      • pchuck69 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        Stammen is allowed to pitch the 8th or 9th innings if the backend is “ragged” or Stammen hasn’t had enough work.

        This whole part of the postgame press was complete BS.

    • natsjackinfl - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      It’s a catch 22. How many times have the starters given Matt 7 innings? Normally, they get to the 8th and it’s Clippard and Soriano. If the starter only goes6, it’s Storen, Clippard and Soriano.

      Hard to get consistent work for the front end but that’s their job and they have to step up.

      • pchuck69 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        It’s not a catch 22. If the backend is overworked, you use the front end in back end situations. It’s unavoidable if the backend is, again, overworked.

        I don’t know why this notion is being fought. You use the pitchers that are available for the situations that come up and those situations won’t necessarily be the same one from an earlier time.

      • pchuck69 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        …what this does require is a manager who is good at forward thinking and that’s clearly not Matt Williams.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Read between the lines: innings he can find to trust Stammen in. Once the Nats were behind he rolled the dice.

      • adcwonk - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        Read between the lines: innings he can find to trust Stammen in

        Bingo.

        And then when he _does_ bring in him, in a close game (because he wants to give our three horsemen some rest), like last night, and he blows up, it’s apparently MW’s fault.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        The Internet is also known for shooting messengers.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        adcwonk, once again you understand the bigger picture.

        Other relievers have to step up. I’d they can’t, then it’s a personnel issue and Rizzo needs to make changes.

        I would have no problem DFAing the Dayton Duo although Blevins at least is good as a LOOGY only.

    • 6ID20 - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      When considering how much the bullpen has been pitching lately, you have to factor in the times pitchers have warmed up but not ended up coming into the game. There’s been a lot of that, especially for Storen, Det and Stammen.

  4. NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    I said this in the other thread, and in my game post, but I think it bears watching.

    Tanner’s now pitched 140 major-league innings. Last season he pitched 159 innings (only 54 in the majors, and some of those out of the bullpen and for a team that was out of it). He’s approaching the most innings he’s ever pitched in his career, in the midst of a pennant race. He could go over 160 innings before September. If we get a five game lead, I wouldn’t be averse to putting him in the bullpen for a while and letting Blake Treinen take his starts.You want him for the postseason because he’s good. You also want him for next season because he’s cheap.

    Matty picked on Jayson, who had a hit and a sac-bunt? What about Desi? What about LaRoche (or Bryce)? I wouldn’t single out anyone, since, except for Span, Cabrera and Rendon, this was pretty much a team loss.

    • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      I’ll repeat my reply on Tanner’s workload:
      I like the idea of stashing him in the pen towards the end of the regular season if he hits a set ceiling, especially if the plan is to put him in the pen for the post season, should we make it in. Don’t see how it can hurt for him to re-adjust to that role in advance.

      Only thing I can think of as far as singling out Werth is that MW doesn’t like 3-0 swinging and begrudges Werth’s tendencies in that regard. Because, yeah, there were 99 problems with this game, and a 3 – 0 pitch sac fly ain’t really one.

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        That’s a theory so I looked it up. Matty had 182 3-0 counts. He walked 151 times (!). The other 31 ABs he hit
        .548/.923/1.387, 17 hits, with 8 homers and 17 RBI (also !). He never, not once, struck out. He groundined into exactly one double play, and never hit a sac-fly.

        So I’d say Matty was a pretty good 3-0 hitter. Actually, I’d say he was a pretty good hitter

        In 318 PAs after a 3-0 count (meaning he didn’t put the ball in play or walk on 3-0), he walked 201 times, struck out 21 times and slashed .362/.764/.767.

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        *grounded*. Matt Williams career splits

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        Thanks, that’s pretty amazing!

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        Agree! You can criticize him as a manager (and I will), but the man knew how to hit and I expect that knowlege to transfer itself to our offense–in fact, I hope it already has. My fear is that he thinks knowing how to to hit is the same as knowing how to manage a pitching staff.

      • ratiocinational - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        NatsLady,

        You can’t strike out on a 3-0 count. Look at those splits again. He never struck out on a 1-0, 2-0, 1-1, 2-1, or 3-1 count either.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        ratio, I think the point is that he never went on to strike out after getting to a 3-0 count, not that he never incurred three strikes on one pitch after getting a 3-0 count.

      • ratiocinational - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Eric,

        That truly would be amazing, but if you look further down on the splits, at “After 3-0,” you’ll see that he struck out 21 times.

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        LOL, good point on the 3-0 count. Was typing too fast. No one can strike out then!

        Yes, I did say he went on to strike out 21 times AFTER a 3-0 count.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Oh, right, and I see NL covered that.

      • bowdenball - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        Numbers in particular counts are meaningless IMO, because as has been pointed out you can’t strike out at 3-0. There’s no context. We all know Werth has supposedly amazing numbers in 3-0 counts, but for all the times you’ve heard that does anyone even know how much better he is than league average in 3-0 counts? I’ve never heard it.

        There’s also no way to adjust for intentional walks, which obviously include 3-0 counts.

    • tcostant - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      These innings issues are usually only considered for the 25 years old and less group. I think it’s a non-issue for a 27 year old, such as Tanner.

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        I understand the usual caution for a body not fully mature. However, I would still be careful. You are dealing with a (relatively) young man in his first full major league season, and expecting him to carry a workload that could exceed 220 innings, a lot of them high-impact.

        Fister’s had a month off. Gio’s had a month off. JZim had some issues (biceps) that luckily occurred at the All-Star Break. Stras should be ready for the full workload and we should expect it of him. Just my thought.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      I think Ramos had a good game. HR, single, put bat on ball.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        +1

  5. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Ragged or not, the “front end” (where did that phrase come from?) hasn’t been very good. Barrett’s gone, at least for a while, and I think Treinen is an improvement. But we haven’t seen much of him in a BP role yet. Blevins looked good in his last outing but as everybody says it was “low leverage” and otherwise he has failed mightily. I don’t think Williams is getting enough out of Detwiler; one batter is a waste. Stammen is clearly slumping.

    Yet it is imperative for Williams to refrain from trotting out Clippard, Storen and Soriano day after day. The “good” part of the ‘pen has been overworked the last two seasons, with a noticeable mid-to-late summer fall-off. It feels like the Nats are in the same trap again — and maybe even worse off with a third of the season to go.

    I’m not sure there’s anything out there of good quality but it’s time for Rizzo to make a waiver deal for a true Jesse Orosco-type LOOGY Blevins (if not replaced) and Stammen both need to be limited to “low leverage” situations, at least until Stammen works things out. If the Nats need a sixth or seventh inning reliever it needs to be either Treinen or Detwiler — for at least one inning if not two — with the aim of using Clippard and Storen only in the eighth or ninth innings and not both of them in the same day. My sense is Detwiler is a better choice for regulation time and Treinen for extra innings.

    • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Not sure where “front end” came from. Nor, “bull pen” for that matter. But since, “bull pen” is used, I imagine dudes hanging out in a line in a pen used to corral bulls, with your early inning guys up front near the door, and your late inning guys lined up behind them ;)

      I agree strongly with your second paragraph.

    • adcwonk - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Yet it is imperative for Williams to refrain from trotting out Clippard, Storen and Soriano day after day

      Yep. I think MW knows that. They each have over 40 appearances already (actually, Clip has 50).

      The problem is: you are supposed to use your best when protecting a late inning lead. Presumably, the Nats, being an over .500 team, will have a lot of those in the next two months.

      Therefore: the Nats either need to get another solid reliever, or figure out which of the guys they have (Det, Stammy, Treinen, etc.) can fill that role.

      I think that’s what MW tried to do last night — which is why I’m beating this dead horse that I don’t think last night’s loss is on MW.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        “I think that’s what MW tried to do last night”

        Yeah. I think in general managers have to figure out ways to test theories (“maybe so-and-so can be a back up ‘A’ reliever”), rest guys, and otherwise make long term decisions that risk short term victories. I think part of that is choosing the least bad games in which to do it. And, I think last night was absolutely a least bad game given our lead and the Braves’ night off (which is the dead horse I keep beating).

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Er, by “our lead” I meant in the standings, not in the game.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Oh, you can add “let relievers work out of slumps” to “test theories” and “rest guys”

        Totally just inferring things, though. I have no idea if managers actually think this way.

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Yeah–no. The time to test out theories is not when you have a 3-2 lead. There are plenty of other opportunities.

        I agree heartily with your second part, though. Nats need another reliever, maybe two. I can’t find the stats right now, but bullpens wear down over the season and have to be replenished, either from the minor-league system or via trade (or even a high $$ guy who’s been released by a non-contender). And I don’t think it can wait until September roster expansion. Rizzo picked up Suzuki in August and a catcher’s gotta be harder to get than relievers. Day by day teams fall out, there should be guys.

      • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        Personally, I think last night was more about working Stammen out of a slump and resting the ‘A’ guys, not about testing theories.

        And, we had a 4-3 deficit when all that happened.

        I don’t think leaving Tanner in was anything more than trusting his ability to have another gutsy showing. It backfired, then snowballed.

        In any case, it’s all highly speculative so I’ll leave off…hopefully ;).

  6. David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    The Rangers reportedly wanted Steven Souza for Neal Cotts, and of course were rejected. But we still have interest in Cotts

  7. Doc - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Don’t let Souza get rusty; sit JDub, and let Souza play tonight!

    • David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      You can’t sit Werth on his garden gnome night!

      • adcwonk - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        Hmm — you’re both right!!

    • alexva6 - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      and tomorrow when you can sit Harper against the lefty.

  8. adcwonk - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/odds/ now has us finishing six games ahead of the Braves.

    We’re gonna need Store/Clip/Sori for the Braves this week, and for October!

    • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Is that an increase or decrease as far as the projected number of games ahead?

      • NatsLady - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        About the same. I remember looking at that number a couple of months ago and being surprised. B-P does not have a high opinion of Atlanta, they never have.

  9. David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    The division will likely be decided in our H2H with Atlanta. We don’t have to dominate them, but we can’t be dominated. .500 or better over the remaining games against them will do.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    ” Nats need another reliever, maybe two. I can’t find the stats right now, but bullpens wear down over the season and have to be replenished, either from the minor-league system or via trade”

    Lots of smart people here and can’t argue with that statement above that NatsLady just posted.

    The problem is as the media was celebrating the Nats success as the best bullpen in baseball the dam was already cracking.

    I’ve tried telling you all with my Dayton Duo comment that brought hate mail my way. That was the end of June and here we are almost a month and a 1/2 removed and only the Barrett issue was resolved and he was a lesser problem than Stammen.

    Clear to me almost 2 months ago was Stammen lost his slider. He can’t fool anyone with his fastball and Blevins lost his confidence against RH batters.

    I checked spin, movement and location on pitches and Blevins has improved while Stammen hasn’t.

    That’s a problem because I’m telling you that watching Stammen is like a BP session.

    • veejh - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      September call ups should provide some relief. Just weather the storm until then.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        Yes, that will help and isn’t too far off which is why you don’t have to DFA Stammen if you cam DL him.

      • veejh - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        That being said, scoring a solid reliever in between now and then wouldn’t hurt, either.

    • David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      I’ve never disagreed Stammen was struggling (I hope you weren’t referring to any of my comments as “hate mail”). What I’ve argued is that Stammen experienced this same exact thing last year and many were asking for him to be sent down or DL’d as they are now. And he broke out of it and was as good as ever down the stretch. For a guy who has been so good for a few years now, I’m not so sure it’s unfixable.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        David, No, I literally got hate mail over it. There were some ticked off people of course sending anonymous emails and probably the same person.

        Craig’s a great guy but a very inconsistent pitcher. If his slider isn’t working, it’s BP.

        Again, I don’t like the hindsight game and you generally want to see if a reliever can find themselves, but truthfully Stammen has only had 6 really good outings. Some others were decent based on results but not dominant and the rest have been awful.

      • veejh - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        We have to 2 months to resolve the Stammen problem. Maybe a short stint on the DL for some “injury” may be what the doctor ordered.

  11. Drew - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Serious question: I wonder whether the Nats would call up A.J. Cole in September to get another power arm in the pen.

    Yes, his future is as a starter, but Jim Palmer started out in the Orioles’ pen and it didn’t damage his career.

    I’d like to see what Treinen and Cole could do in the 6th and 7th. Can’t imagine those would be comfortable ABs.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      A good question; I wouldn’t object.

    • Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      I don’t know much about Cole, but I imagine Treinen coming out of the pen would be like Zinn in the NLDS.

      • David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        I’m not convinced Treinan has the swing-and-miss, even with the high velocity. Though his slider the other day was very encouraging

  12. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    I don’t see how September callups are an answer as the guys who get called will be the ones they’ve already sent down — Mattheus, Barrett, Cedeno.

    Nor do I see getting, or even bothering to look for, two more relievers. Four things can happen on a waiver deal and three of them are bad. One, you get lucky and it turns out well. Two, you get unlucky and the guy can’t swing-and-miss his grandmother. Three, you pay too much in prospects (and the Nats don’t have that many top-level prospects that they can spare any). Four, you take a bad contract (or most of one). Just give me one guy who can pitch to Heyward and Freeman and I’ll be happy.

    • Drew - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Why not try Cole?

      Look what David Price did in relief for Tampa in 2008. He came up big and even saved a game 7 in the playoffs.

      You have a big arm that’s big- league ready. Why settle?

      • alexva6 - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        A J Cole is not David Price, no disrespect intended.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Drew, I think those options have to be considered. That’s also how Wainwright got his beginnings with the Cardinals.

        Tough choices to be made if 40 man spots have to be opened.

    • veejh - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      September call ups help, if in fact, Stammen, or anyone else are ailing.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Do you want to get better or do you just want to keep a seat warm in the BP?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        Theo, they will help eat up innings. The AJ Cole idea is an intriguing one if he is an improvement.

        Matt Willaims needs 7 studs and right now he has 2 duds.

  13. Eric - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Harper Gordek’s post from July 21 sounds exceptionally prescient in light of Tanner’s outing yesterday.

    NatsLady – he seems to agree with you re: Roark and fatigue.

    Today he gets into strength of schedule for our starters, based on opponent aggregate OPS. Pretty fascinating. If you accept aggregate OPS as meaningful, Fister has faced the toughest lineups and Roark the easiest among starters, and Clip has faced the toughest hitters overall.

  14. David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    I not only think it’s a possibility, I think it’s probable that AJ Cole is in the bullpen down the stretch. And I think he could make a big difference down there.

    • David Proctor - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      If we start to pull away (or after we clinch), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cole get a couple of starts either.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        Nice to see an exchange of suggestions. Somebody would have to come off the 40 man to make room or a move to the 60 Day DL.

        Glad nobody suggested Giolito being a Callup because that’s not happening.

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