Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's see what they're made of

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ivan Rodriguez's words couldn't help Tyler Clippard or Ian Desmond tonight.
NEW YORK -- This was the kind of loss that hadn't been seen around these parts in quite some time. Actually, it had been more than a year since the Nationals last lost a game they once led by five runs.

So this 8-6 setback to the Mets, featuring an eighth-inning meltdown of epic proportions, stings. It's the kind of loss last year's team grew to expect, and the kind of loss this year's team never believes is possible.

But it happened. The boxscore spells it out in all its gory details. The three runs allowed by Brian Bruney, followed by the three more runs allowed by Tyler Clippard. Throw in an Ian Desmond error and a bases-loaded walk by Miguel Batista, and you've got the worst loss of this young season.

You've also got the first opportunity this year to find out what these Nationals are made of. Will they allow a crushing loss like this to linger, or will they brush it off and return tomorrow afternoon with renewed purpose?

To a man, every player inside the visitors clubhouse at Citi Field tonight insisted they'll come back strong tomorrow.

"We will. That's what this club is all about. We fight," Clippard said. "Yeah, it hurts right now. But we'll sleep it off, and tomorrow we'll be ready to go. It's a 162-game season. This is going to happen."

Sure, it's going to happen to every team a couple of times every season. But these are the kind of losses that left the 2009 Nationals shell-shocked and often led to lengthy losing streaks. One crushing loss led to another, until the momentum was so strong in a downhill direction, it was impossible to make it stop.

To date, the 2010 Nationals have exuded a different personality, one of professionalism and togetherness. They still haven't dropped more than two games in a row this season. Their three previous worst losses (all in 10 innings) were immediately followed the next day with victories, giving everyone confidence that tonight's shocker will be a mere bump in the road and nothing more.

"Absolutely," Desmond said. "This team has been through so much adversity the last couple years. We lost, I don't know the number, but 10 in a row I'm assuming, 20 in a row. One loss isn't a big deal. We'll bounce back."

(For the record, the 2009 Nats' worst losing streak was eight games, set from Aug. 28-Sept. 5. They did, however, have five losing streaks of at least six games.)

So tomorrow afternoon's series finale suddenly looms large for Washington. A strong, winning effort makes tonight's game a footnote. Another shaky performance makes tonight's game the start of a downward trend, as the stench of this loss lingers.

"I think the lingering effect is like momentum: It depends on your next day's starter," Jim Riggleman said. "Your next day's starter will dictate whether there's a lingering effect or not. ... I know our guys will come out ready to play tomorrow. It's a tough loss. We'll agonize over it a little bit tonight and then hopefully get right back after it tomorrow and win a ballgame."

You heard your manager, Craig Stammen. Your team's counting on you. Go get 'em.


Anonymous said...

Why do I keep thinking that if Riggles had left Olsen pitch through the 7th none of this would have happened? Olsen was pitching too well to pull him out that early.

Anonymous said...

**Through the 6th**

Sorry, my bad.

john d said...

mark my words, this is the loss that when it all comes crumbling down we will look back on. absolutely embarrasing. to play that well through 6 and to have it all taken away in one inning is mindblowing and i really dont think its gonna b that easy to recover from this. its gonna hurt for awhile. i hope iam wrong...by the way pleaseeeeeeeeee trade bruney and bring up storen!!!!!!! clip needs help!!!

Cwj said...

John D - It isn't all going to crumble down. A very tough loss yes, but really the only one so far through 33 games.
Last year's Nats had about 3 of these type of losses in the first couple weeks (many involved Hanrahan).
They'll bounce back. It's just that some of these pitchers were due for a bad outing (Clippard). They can't be perfect everytime.

Anonymous said...

This one is 100% on Riggleman for taking Olsen out. Put the shaky bullpen in position to blow it. I guess he should get one mulligan after their good start though.

Anonymous said...

Kind of interesting this loss happened the same day about the 2005 post when the Nats blew the big lead late in the season

natsfan1a said...

I have a hunch that this team will not crumble.

I'd also be interested to know why Olsen was pulled (I'm coming down with a cold and retired before the pregame).

aspenbubba said...

The comments above convey all my thoughts though I still want to write.Marks' article of 2005 was the harbinger of things to come. Bruney needs to be demoted . Bring English back or anyone not named Storen (too soon). Olsen was not happy being relieved . He was speaking obscenities as he walked off the mound and left for the club house soon after.I can see the season unraveling. Clippard was due for a let down and Batista is relying on the few remaining skills he has . Not a contributor at this point and he needs to be released.

Jim Webster said...

Mark, if you jinxed 'em with that great post about the bullpen meltdown at Petco in 2005 ... quick, put up a piece about Ramon Ortiz' near-no-hitter (complete with homer) at RFK in 2006 as an omen for today.

Jack T. in Florida said...

Have you ever seen a flatter 94 mph fastball? Bruney was lucky he didn't get hammered Monday night.
There are so many talented arms in the system that it is absolutely unnecessary to put up with his dilusional comments. Please send him packing!!!

K.D. said...

It was time for Olsen to come out, he was losing it. He had battled hard and it looked like he was upset with himself, not with being pulled. Bruney on the other hand, acted like he was upset with being pulled after only thrown seven pitches and then was saying it was poor pitch selection. His first batter he threw ball, ball then came a hit. To Wright he threw strike, strike and than (third or fourth choice Pudge put down) came a hit out to right field. He was predictable, he needs to change speeds mix it up and quit being stubborn. I do think he has good stuff and don't think they should give up on him.

Anonymous said...

The line up today does not inspire much confidence. Guzman batting fifth at shortstop? Nieves? Harris? Bernadina? What is Riggleman thinking? He brings in Clippard when he shouldn't to win, loses, then emasculates the line up the next day? Earth to Riggleman?

Meridian said...

If one accepts, as I do, the premise that after a devastating loss like last night's it's really important to win, then I think you set aside the "day game after a night game" mentality and put your strongest lineup out there. This isn't it.

john d said...

iam just so used to this team crumbling and carrying a loss like this on their shoulders for months. I really hope iam wrong. everytime i see bruney come into the game i change the channel because i cant watch this guy. he is this years hanrahan. i beg rizzo to get rid of him. if its to early for storen then lets bring up english. anything is better then this guy. on a positive note to bruney it wasnt all his fault. if dez fields that ball this melt down never happens. if they can win today ill forget this loss but if they lose its going to linger with them.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this team has no killer instinct. When the easy pop dropped in front of Morgan last night, you could see it.

When the Nats were up 6-2 they kind of let up and coasted. We have a lot of nice, nice men on the team. It's hard to imagine Zimm saying in the dugout, "We're up 6-2 so let's step on their neck and put them out of their effing misery."

If a team ever needed a guy like Pudge to close the door for five minutes and let that team know he would not tolerate this again, it was the Nats after last night. But I don't think that happened.

This team needs a little less Labrador Retriever, and a little more Pit Bull.

Doc said...

Just saw Kurt Schilling on ESPN. He said he has never seen anything like SS. He was most impressed with his pitching brain, as much as his stuff.

Unknown said...

you all are starting to sounds like a cubs message board! so much negativity. this is a quality squad that's putting solid effort out there every night and winning games, despite a lack of production from right field, and a relatively shallow bullpen.

let's have some positive energy in here! go nats!

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

What they're made of? Apparently a mix of heart and awesomeness! :-)

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