Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Instant analysis: Phillies 3, Nats 2

US Presswire photo
Edwin Jackson slides hard into Erik Kratz to end the bottom of the second.
Game in a nutshell: Coming off an 8-0 trouncing at the hands of the Phillies, the Nationals hoped to get back on track in the second game of this series. And they appeared to get off to a rousing start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a pair of botched plays by the Philadelphia infield. But then the bats went silent just as Edwin Jackson started serving up home runs, three of them in total. The Nationals bullpen did its job to keep the deficit at one, and everyone in the ballpark nervously waited for the lineup to break through with the game-tying (and perhaps game-winning) rally. It never came. All of a sudden, the Nationals have lost two in a row and have seen their record fall back to 19 games over the .500 mark.

Hitting lowlight: Stymied for the better part of seven innings by Vance Worley, the Nationals finally got their chance to rally against the Phillies' highly suspect bullpen in the eighth. And they were in prime position to drive in at least the game-tying run after Ryan Zimmerman (who was out of the lineup for the second straight night with lower back tightness) came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit single up the middle. But Michael Morse swung right through a 93 mph fastball from Josh Lindblom, then Zimmerman surprisingly tried to steal second on lefty Jeremy Horst's very first pitch to Adam LaRoche. He was immediately gunned down to end the eighth, the most frustrating moment in a very frustrating game.

Pitching lowlight: This was something of a strange outing for Jackson. On the one hand, he put 12 men on base in only 5 2/3 innings. On the other hand, he managed to escape allowing just three runs, all scoring on solo homers. The right-hander was by no means sharp, and his pace was painfully slow at times, especially after he slid hard into the plate to end the bottom of the second. But he did find a way to get some outs when he really needed to, and because of that he at least gave his team a chance. Davey Johnson perhaps gave his veteran starter more rope than others in his rotation, not even having anyone warming in the bullpen during a shaky fifth inning. That's the kind of respect he'll give an experienced pitcher like Jackson, and ultimately the strategy worked.

Key stat: Tonight's official paid attendance was 23,777. That's the first crowd at Nationals Park under 25,000 since May 15.

Up next: The series concludes Thursday at 7:05 p.m., with Ross Detwiler taking the mound for the Nationals against fellow lefty Cole Hamels (who makes his first appearance at Nationals Park since he intentionally plunked Bryce Harper in the back on May 6).


Clip&Store said...

whats up with the low paid attendance?


mick said...

maybe fans are in a slump too, lol

mick said...

attendance not surprising and I have a logical explanation, August is vacation month for most families and i bet you will find most baseball fans fit that demographic

mick said...

In fact, in Philly, the last tow weeks of Auguts you will find Phillies attend down because they all go to the shore

rogieshan said...

I'm concerned about the productivity from our number one catcher. Is Jesus Flores running on fumes? Even if Davey reduces his workload between now and October, he is still on course to surpass his career high in games caught. Rizzo may be happy now about his roster, but there's still two months left to the season.

#4 said...

Just catching up out here on the west coast while vacationing. I could only watch Gameday and look at the highlights. It looked like our friend Bo Porter may have made another mistake tonight. At least he was aggressive with two outs this time. Someone pointed out that his aggressiveness got the Nats the their 11th run on Sunday. Please remember there was only one out when he sent Zim. Chances are he would have eventually scored. Bo was lucky he didn't run the Nats out of a inning there.

This series has been a classic case of the Boswellian "regressing to the mean". The Phillies are due to play a bit better. Rollins, Utley, and Howard are not bums. When those three are in the line-up they should win some games. The Nats were due to cool off a bit. They just need to keep playing. They'll be fine.

Lastly, this jumped out at me as I was catching up on the comments:

JayB said...

"yea....not making needed moves like INF and Catching is really paying off Rizzo. Dope! Chad Tracy starting MLB game at 3rd base for anyone let alone a Division winning want a be team.....Not good at all."

I decided that JayB's Tracy comment was perhaps reasonable, so I decided to check the Nats competition to see who they would start at 3B if their starter went down. That seems appropriate since at least four of the teams will make the playoffs and two or three of them will win a division title. Here's what I came up with:

ATL - Juan Francisco
CIN - Todd Frazier or Scott Rolen - they've sort of been splitting the spot
PITT - Josh Harrison/Pedro Alvarez - splitting also.
STL - Daniel Descalso
LA - Juan Uribe/Adam Kennedy - 3B has been a black hole for LA until they got Hanley.
SF - Joaquin Arias

I have to say that stacked up against these guys, Chad Tracy doesn't look too bad. Most of them are powerless .240 hitters who play slightly better defense than Tracy. Certainly someone will win a division or at least make the playoffs with a back-up 3B who is worse than Chad Tracy.

mick said...

rogie... I think Nats will be OK, however, if the Nats lose series to Marlins in the same manner, then there is a serious problem

mick said...

#4... that is good work my friend!

Exposremains said...

If I'm an other team playing the Nats in playoff I keep stealing bases until they stop me.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

With apologies to MicheleS:


William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

Nobody on our team has ever needed to learn how to hold on runners. I didn't think they were missing Ramos because he wasn't all that great offensively or defensively either, but catching has been a huge weakness this year and I don't know if Solano is the answer. Flores has been around for years and years now. He is unlikely to show much more.

Lombardozzi needs to become a utility guy and out of the starting line-up as soon as Desmond is back, who apparently has a mysterious injury that makes you play great except you aren't supposed to play. I didn't think they needed any major deals provided they intended to play La Roche and Zimmerman regularly, which apparently they don't because every time one of them sneezes, Johnson sits them.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@William O. Douglas:

I share your frustration at our inability to throw out base stealers. But I don't think the blame belongs solely to our catchers. Our staff just allows too many walking leads and great jumps. Flores had no shot tonight at Pierre in his two steals. They were solely on the pitcher.

But when the throw sails into center field, yes, that's on the catcher.

Unknown said...

23,777 is pathetic! Fans like that don't deserve a play-off team, which is fine because this team isn't going to make it.

The collapse has begun. I'd be surprised if the Nats win even 25 more games this season. Every one of their starters will be either shut down (Strasburg), is injured (JZim), inconsistent (EJax), a head case who will collapse under pennant pressure (Gio, Detwiler) and no good to begin with (Lannan). Nothing was done at the deadline to address the lack of a utility IF, a catcher of even replacement level quality (Pudge couldn't hit but at least he could throw out runners) or another starter. Every team in the race EXCEPT the Nats got stronger.

With Hamels on the bump tomorrow, a sweep is all but inevitable.

It's over folks - I've watched a lot of baseball and I know a playoff team when I see one. The 2012 Nationals are not, NOT a playoff team. Maybe next year.

peric said...

I decided that JayB's Tracy comment was perhaps reasonable, so I decided to check the Nats competition to see who they would start at 3B if their starter went down.

Its not just third base its shortstop. That's where Lombardozzi flags. He really isn't a good match for any position other than second base or perhaps left field. They could probably use a third starter allowing Lombo to return to more of a UTL role. Its why some where speculating about Stephen Drew and I've seen recent comments about Jed Lowrie. This is what they need and not Chad Tracy. Tracy is better suited as a pinch hitter not a UTL or backup. He's a younger Matt Stairs type player.

We'll have to keep an eye on Zach Walters to see if his fielding improves as Desmond's did as he progressed higher in the system. Jeff Kobernus and Anthony Rendon's college teammate at Rice, Rick Hague are also possibilities but fielding wise both seem limited. Anthony Rendon may be able to play all three positions but that can't be know until he gets some minor league playing time.

What really chafes JayB is the fact that the strategy appears to be to wait for these players to develop ... they are cheap. Or use them to trade for a higher level prospect who would be just as cheap.

Thus putting off winning until they have enough cost controllable prospects at the major league level. In short NOT going for it now by making a key trade or trades.

However, the expense won't be in salary it will be in quality prospects from a system that was long bereft of almost any at all until the last 2 years! And not signing Aaron Crow steamed quite a number at both Stan AND JimBo and likely hastened their departure. Even ownership gets upset about trading homegrown prospects ... when they are just starting to develop and get good.

Its a tough balancing act ... its like trying to balance on the edge of a blade because of the number of unknowns that go into creating both a successufl winning major league team and franchise.

But Rizzo and Clark are good. And both have track records. I'm surprised JayB never mentions Roy Clark as he is a great baseball man and a pretty good judge of talent. And he is a big part of their current approach and philosophy.

mick said...

Unknown... Nats attendance has been EXCELLENT!

mick said...
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mick said...
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mick said...

Unknown said...
23,777 is pathetic! Fans like that don't deserve a play-off team, which is fine because this team isn't going to make it.

let me add my friend, Nats are almost at 1.5 million fans with most of their home games left to play and are 13 out of 30
Nats attendance has been EXCELLENT!

peric said...

I think if Koyie Hill's batting average were 30 points higher he might have been called up by now to assume 1/2 of the catching duties. Davey makes it sound like they just go back to Solano when he is ready. But I think they may need a major league catcher who has caught more than 100 games in a row. The weak short bench both offensively and defensively probably makes Davey reluctant to make that move. But it does look like its time.

#4 said...

Peric -

To be fair to Rizzo, Lombo was never his back-up plan at SS. Espinosa was. They are using it now.

I think JayB's gripe is simply the quality of back-up that is being brought in, not the the one you are stating. I guess I should let him make his own argument though.

Anonymous said...

A couple of bad games for sure. That being said, the Braves lost so no real ground lost tonight. Bo Porter sending Ejax home and Jzim stealing attempt had me screaming at my TV well before they were called out (I saw those outs coming). I am ready to get the next game going and hopefully take the Miami series

whatsanattau said...

If pudge were on the team this year we would have better numbers against base stealers, but not the 40% rate he racked up last year. Ramos had a better year last year too. But with these pitchers it exposes the weakness of Flores in particular. Its not too late to add a catcher, but I don't think it is critical. I do think DeRosa is overmatched and the bench under staffed. HRod needs to go DL.

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

The comment about "not a play-off team" is a typical garbage anonymous comment. How about St. Louis back in 2006? Were they a play-off team? They won 83 games. Do you think the Nats can win that many?

You know what makes a team a play-off team? Making the play-offs makes a team a play-off team and yes, plenty of mediocre teams have made the play-offs and do almost every year.

For all the know-everything prognosticators, until I see your betting slips, who cares what your opinion, unsupported by any facts is?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Wil Nieves was DFA'd by the Rockies today.


Wil Nieves.

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

I am fair from sure that a team's attendance has much pertinence here. If the Nationals want to increase their attendance, I can think of two things they can do immediately:

They can stop gouging on food and beverage prices and they can stop the incessant noise during the games. It is interesting to listen to the baseball radio broadcasts because they omit all of the extraneous garbage noise that the Nats impose on many of their unwilling fans. It is surprising but the radio experience is far better than the live experience in terms of maintaining the traditional sound and feel of the game.

I do not want to hear introductory rock music for each Nat who comes to the plate. I don't want to be exhorted to make noise. I will grudgingly put up with the National Anthem, even though that is a fairly late addition to baseball, but I certainly don't need to then be subjected to God Bless America in the 7th--what does it have to do with baseball?

I certainly don't want to hear the song The Final Countdown during the ninth inning. I hate that song to begin with and it does nothing to make the game more interesting or exciting, only the opposite.

I would go to more games but the Nats have decided to cater to casual fans who apparently prefer an amusement park atmosphere to a traditional baseball one where you can hear the sounds of the ballgame and perhaps even listen to a transistor radio while you watch. The O's games are only slightly better, but there still are a few venues where the game is still the attraction, perhaps Boston foremost among them.

Adamnational said...

@William O. Douglas Loeffler - Couldn't agree with you more - It's Baseball, not NASCAR. Two words: Fenway Park...

SonnyG10 said...

Base runners are stealing on our pitchers, not our catcher. They typically take 1.5 seconds to deliver a ball to the plate. The catcher needs about 2.1 seconds to catch the ball and throw it to second base. That's 3.6 seconds. A great base runner only needs 3.3 seconds to steal and a good one only needs 3.4 seconds to steal. To stop the stealing, the pitchers need to use a slide step or otherwise hurry their delivery so that they are getting the ball to home plate in 1.1 or 1.2 seconds. Randy Knorr has explained that they don't want their young pitchers rushing their pitches, because they may miss their targets and have the pitch knocked out of the park. So they put up with the stolen bases. So don't blame our catchers, they have no chance.

Looks to me like this is something they need to work out, but do you do this in the off season or spring training. Other teams don't seem to have this problem, at least not to our extent.

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

According to our announcers, Boston may be the best, but apparently even there traditions have taken a hit. If you read this article, you can see one reason why the Nats' experience is so bad: Stan Kasten.

The Nats and the Kastens of the world make their profit-maximizing choices and I fully support them in that, but let's not have people coming on here and claiming that attendance is pathetic with the implication being that we are poor supporters of our team.

The Nats have opted to present a fan experience modeled upon those of amusement parks. Fans are captives and exposed to food prices that they would never ever even contemplate paying anywhere else--well, maybe at the movies, and there is literally nowhere to escape from the blaring loudspeakers, just like at MarineLand or what have you.

Not only that, the music and P.A. driven noise actually interferes the appreciation and focus of the game of many traditional fans--the casual fan doesn't care--he is thrilled to know what Bryce's walk-up music is, but doesn't give a damn about his obp.

A start, would be to at least begin having week-day games rock music-free. Particularly in spring, you are likely to have an older male crowd and even if it is not a constant thing, many of us will attempt to see such games. I think I would prefer to see Ross pitch during a game with no rock music to seeing Stras pitch live under the current format.

natsfan1a said...

So, female fans stay home in the spring? Dang, and here I've been going to ballgames in April and May for all these years...d'oh!

Particularly in spring, you are likely to have an older male crowd and even if it is not a constant thing, many of us will attempt to see such games.

pRAA said...

Randy Knorr has explained that they don't want their young pitchers rushing their pitches, because they may miss their targets and have the pitch knocked out of the park. So they put up with the stolen bases. So don't blame our catchers, they have no chance.

This strategy works fine as long as the pitchers aren't putting many men on base, which was the case earlier in the season when pretty much every single pitcher was dominant every time out. But when there are one or two guys getting on almost every inning, that's when the pitchers get exposed because the other teams start running on them. Watch what happens when a veteran like EJax or Gio pitches with runners on and compare it with what happens when Strasburg or Detwiler has to pitch from the stretch. EJax and Gio will pay attention to the runners, throw over to keep them close, etc, while Stras and Det will be concentrating on the batter and ignoring the runners. They leave themselves with only one way to get out of a jam - the strikeout. But if it's a night when they don't have their best stuff (and those nights happen to every pitcher, especially in a long season) they're out of luck. The guy who got the leadoff bloop single steals second on them, moves to third on what would have been a DP grounder if he hadn't stolen, and then he's scoring on a sac fly. And that's not even the worst case. Controlling the running game is a big part of what these young guys with dominant stuff - Strasburg in particular - need to learn before they can really be called elite pitchers.

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