Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Frustrating Afternoon

Just like watching your children grow up at times, this Sunday was a frustrating afternoon to watch Our Washington Nationals. You may well love them no matter what, but sometimes they just get on your nerves.

Two Defensive Misplays directly led to the end of John Lannan's No Hit Bid and attempted shutout this afternoon at Miller Park.

Then, Ryan Zimmerman produced a fabulous 12 pitch At-Bat against Eric Gagne in a game tied at one apiece. Down 0-2 in the count--Our Number 11 fought off pitch after pitch, so successfully--Gagne started laughing after his 11th toss--fouled off by "Z". An emotion signaling defeat, when Ryan drilled pitch number 12 from Eric, a liner down the left field line with two outs in the top of the 8th. A game changing moment that found Austin Kearns following with a Home Run to left and Lastings Milledge BLASTING AGAIN (Is that man ever Hot!!)--with a downright CLOUT over the left centerfield wall for his 12th Homer. Also off Gagne. Back to Back Home Runs.

A now 4-1 Lead with just six outs to go for the victory. Our Washington Nationals were destined to win.

Only to see Saul Rivera lose command and Joel Hanrahan lose control in the bottom of the 8th. One Single, Two Walks and one exasperating two strike, two out bases loaded lost slider later--The Brewers had tied this ball game at 4. Hardly used backup catcher Mike Rivera had laced Joel's errant pitch deep into the leftfield corner. A bases clearing double that had Milwaukee's 15th Straight Sellout on its feet--roaring in delight.

And Washington heading down that lonely road of defeat--in exasperating fashion again. They weren't coming back from that deflating moment--no matter how hard they tried--though they did give the effort.

Just when you thought Our Washington Nationals were going to get a refreshing and enlightening win--they had found a way to lose the lead. And eventually this game, when Luis Ayala trotted to the mound and IMMEDIATELY gave up the game winning homer--a lead off shot to Gabe Kapler--in the bottom of the 13th. A no doubt homer off the facing of the left field pavilion at Miller Park that found Our Washington Nationals quickly walking off the field--and Our Number 56 seriously wondering whether his days are numbered in a Washington Uniform?

As much as I personally like Luis Ayala--he is simply not getting the job done. Now 1-8 on the season with a 6.05 ERA. Hard to believe--how good he was in 2005. One of the best setup men in the game, with a wicked silder. Now--one bad elbow surgery later--all Our Number 56's pitches tend to roll in over the middle of the plate. Sad really, how quickly Ayala has fallen.

A bad ending to a tormenting day as A Fan of Our Washington Nationals. They had their chances and failed. Even Milwaukee received a gift 13 bases on balls, yet couldn't take advantage of most of the situations. The Brewers were there for the taking--and Our Team did not close the door.

A winnable game lost against a good opponent.

Yes, this was one Frustrating Day For Our Washington Nationals and Their Fans. Some of Our Children produced, others didn't--and then some of the Veterans gave up the affair.

Now losers of three straight after playing so well over the first 7 days of August. Maybe its a part of watching a young team trying to find themselves--but it doesn't make it any more enjoyable. One of the hardest losses of the year. Washington should have won--and didn't.

How does Manny stay so patient and positive? Days like today have to eat at him.

Final Score in 13 baffling innings--The Milwaukee Brewers 5 and Our Washington Nationals 4.

Game Notes & Highlights

For a time I was wondering who would put up the first "One" on the board. Would Our Washington Nationals finally score a run in three game? Or would John Lannan keep The Milwaukee Brewers Hit Less for Nine Innings? For five innings, Our Number 31 fought through four walks to keep The Brewers under wraps. Then, a fielding error by Ronnie Belliard at 1st base missing on a Ryan Zimmerman toss started the downturn for Lannan in the 6th. Add a fifth walk and a blooper into short centerfield by Corey Hart and Milwaukee had tied this game up at one. Thanks to neither "The Guz" or Emilio Bonifacio calling for the ball defiantly. Eventually, Cristian Guzman would tail away from the pop and Our Number 6 appeared afraid--feared of running into the much larger Guzman. The Baseball glancing off Bonifacio's glove for an RBI Single with two outs. Just like that, No Hitter and Shutout Over. The Ball should have been caught. No question--if they were communicating in the field.

Not sure how much longer Our Manager Manny Acta would have left John Lannan in the game--but once again--he pitched well enough to win and only received a No Decision--not the No Hitter. Sadly.

And as much as I love Ronnie Belliard--"The Ballplayer" is not a first baseman. Yeah, I understand that Our Number 10 is playing out of position due to countless injuries--but you would think his footwork around the bag--waiting for throws would be more proficient. Ronnie looks out of place at times attempting to take any throw. How could he not understand the basics? It's not that difficult? Really, it's not. Ronnie Belliard struggled today playing first base.

Lastings Milledge is ON FIRE!! Three more hits today. RBI Single in the 6th to break Washington's 27 Consecutive Innings Scoreless string. And that Colossal BLAST!! into the left centerfield area of Miller Park. Like every hitter, when you are more patient and ahead in the count--you can do some damage. Our Number 44 doing plenty of that lately.

Ryan Zimmerman slowly raising his batting average--not hitting much for power--but standing at the plate with more confidence now. His 12 Pitch At-Bat against Eric Gagne was The Story Of This Game--until Our Bullpen gave up the lead late. In the field--Our Number 11 returning to the fine grace we have all come to expect. Three times this afternoon, Ryan went to his backhand side to snare a liner down the line. How many times can you say it--but Zimmerman is the finest fielding third baseman in the game. He just needs to start producing more at the plate.

The 13 Walks given up today by Our Pitchers were ludicrous. How many times do you have to tell someone--throw some first pitch strikes!! Pitching from ahead in the count is how you succeed. Not by luck--only because The Milwaukee Brewers could not take advantage this afternoon of the Bakers Dozen free passes provided by Washington.

Joel Hanrahan had no reason to throw anything in over the middle of the plate to Mike Rivera with the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the 8th. Washington was up by three--there was a fudge factor. Our Number 31 could have attempted to nip the corner and force Rivera to swing at something he would otherwise not. Rivera had two strikes, The Brewers Catcher was going to go for anything close. A bad pitch decision by Joel Hanrahan. Hopefully, he will learn from this mistake.

Saul Rivera had an even stranger day. Our Number 56 recorded five outs, struck out three, but still managed to give up two walks, two hits and eventually the game tying runs (thanks to Hanrahan). Usually effective--Saul was inconsistent for 1.2 innings today in Milwaukee. And his performance set the table for Washington's downfall.

Finally--Has Garrett Mock learned anything from his two previous Major League Starts for Washington June? Tomorrow--Our Number 50 gets the starting nod in this series finale with The Brewers. Time to find out whether Mock has the stuff to perform on The Major League Level. He needs some confidence that comes from a Successful Start.

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Darren Hauck


davidson said...

I agree that Z's stops at third have been pretty amazing, but anyone else notice how he's lazily throwing over to first base. I was watching the milwaukee broadcast on mlb extra innings and they were certainly noticing. What happen to his arm? Is her hurt or just lazy? That's been my only concern with Ryan since his return.

Anonymous said...

Zimmerman's seems to have acquired a very lax attitude this season. Maybe he is disgusted with losing. He certainly doesn't seem in any hurry to sign a long term contract. He is certainly not the same player, especially with the bat, that he was when he came up in 2005. He has lost his power and now hits mostly weak grounders and pop ups to the right side.

Anonymous said...


Not to belabor a point made in response to an earlier post, but, after his short stint Friday at 1B (where he looks far more comfortable than Belliard or Casto), it's clear to me that, at least defensively, Langerhans is the man. Of course, with Parra, a lefty, starting yesterday, Belliard was the logical choice. I know that Belliard is the stronger hitter, but Ryan's offense and plate discipline have improverd, and he has shown that he can produce with the bat when given some regular ABs. So, Manny, why not give him a shot at first against righty starters? Having Belliard as a reserve in those games would also balance our bench from a lefty/righty standpoint when we need a pinch hitter in a key situation.

P.S.: I have to disagree with Anonymous at 9:44 regarding Zim's "laxity." It seems to me that the only thing we're not really seeing from him since his return from the DL is extra-base power. But maybe this is due to some residual weakness in his left (lead) shoulder. Zim is the least of our problems.

Andrew said...

davidson said...
I agree that Z's stops at third have been pretty amazing, but anyone else notice how he's lazily throwing over to first base.

Hasn't that been the way Zim has been doing it here on routine grounders?

Ryan's demeanor to me is more just his own self frustration.

One of his quotes early in the season to use humor about his at-bats he referred to himself as a "defensive specialist".

If we could get a big bat in the 4 hole next season, Ryan's stats will perk up as he will see a much more favorable selection of pitches.

His at-bat in the 8th inning yesterday vs. Gagne was a real good sign. Ryan is getting better extension on the ball and as soon as he gets under some of these the HRs will return.

Anonymous said...

"The Plan" has created a prelong period of losing that has resulted in a "culture of losing". When things are going well, the spirit and performance are good. BUT, after a lost, the losing culture takes over..the spirit is very low, the play is poor, walks, errors and lack of hitting (bases loaded w/no outs and no runs scored)are common and everybody (players & fans)are waiting to see how they are going to lose. It effects both the veterans and young players equally. A non-competitive team has a very negative impact on the ML players who may be adversely affected while they are still here. Things need to change on the field or this culture may be irreversible.