Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Command Performance Lost

102 Pitches into tonight's game at Coors Field, John Lannan was pitching the Major League Game of his life. A Shutout, a Two Hitter, A Masterpiece inside, arguably, the most difficult ballpark in America to throw a shutout. Our Number 31 had The Colorado Rockies totally under control, leading 2-0. Three pitches later, this game was INCREDIBLY TIED.

One Inning later, this game was over--For Washington.

Clint Barmes would fight off an off speed pitch with two outs--and single to right. Then pinch hitter Ian Stewart would DRILL Lannan's second offering DEEP and OUT of Coors Field--hammering a fastball into the right centerfield stands. Just like that, Lead Lost, Fine Outing Lost and as it turned out--this game lost.

After receiving a Command Performance from John Lannan through Six and 2/3rds innings--Our Number 31 Lost Command, and so did Our Entire Bullpen--Losing Command of this game.

You talk about falling about. After Lannan was able to retire The Rockies Wily Taveres to end the 7th, Luis Ayala, Charlie Manning and Saul Rivera flat out gave the game away. Not one of these three relievers had ANY COMMAND of their arsenals, giving Colorado command of this affair. The Rockies scoring six runs after one out was recorded in the 8th--when Our Number 56 gave up a bloop double, walk and hit by pitch. Manning followed Luis by allowing a single, walk and another walk scoring two more Rockies Runs. Finally, with two outs, Rivera hit the first batter he faced, then proceeded to give up another walk and a single allowing Colorado to put this game away in miserable fashion. Six runs scored in one terrible bottom of the eighth inning. Playing their worst pitched frame of 2008, Washington lost total control of this game.

All four pitchers for Our Washington Nationals had lost their command this evening--when this game was on the line. Each had faltered dramatically. Pretty hard to believe, shutting out The Rockies, up by two, with just seven outs to win this game--Colorado had fought back, with a great assist from Our Bullpen, to run away with an easy victory for The Rockies. Anyone just seeing the line score from this affair must believe it was not even close. One of the most depressing defeats to watch all season.

No, I was not expecting Our Washington Nationals to go undefeated in August, but it sure looked very likely, Washington would begin this month by winning their first five games. They should have, at least until John Lannan lost his command and Our Washington Nationals lost total command of this ball game. Yeah, it's just another loss, but Our Number 31 deserved a whole lot better this evening in The Mile High City.

Final Score from always interesting Coors Field--The Colorado Rockies 8 and Our Washington Nationals 2. This game, so close to being A GEM, quickly became truly FORGETTABLE.

Game Notes & Highlights

Lannan really threw well. He had a tremendous outing. Until Stewart slammed the game tying home run, there was a distinct possibility that Our Number 31 might go the distance. His curveball was terrific all night. His command of his off speed stuff was setting up his fastball well. The Rockies were flailing at him all evening, even Matt Holliday, couldn't touch him. John Lannan struck out 8 and was mighty solid this evening at Coors Field.

Lastings Milledge made a huge baserunning blunder in the top of the second. With Austin Kearns on first base, Our Number 44 laid down a bunt for a base hit. A nice one. Colorado 1st Baseman Garrett Atkins threw the baseball away behind first base. For whatever reason, Milledge attempted to run to second base on the overthrow as Austin rightly scooted to third base. Lastings was thrown out easily by The Rockies' Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa backing up the play. A poor mental decision by Our Number 44 that may well have cost Washington another early run after Jesus Flores hit a deep drive to score Kearns on a sacrifice fly and Ronnie Belliard followed with a single to center. At times, Lastings Milledge plays the game on talent alone, not through the taught skills of the game.

Later, Ryan Zimmerman would be caught too far off second base as well, when Milledge hit a blooper behind second base for an unassisted double play in the 8th. A Rally Killing Twin Killing with "Z" and Austin on first and second with nobody out.

The Rockies would also swing one SWEET DOUBLE PLAY when, with Ronnie Belliard just off third base and Ryan Langerhans on first with one out in the top of the 7th--Emilio Bonifacio would drill a one hopper right down the third base line--right on the base. Colorado Third Baseman Clint Barmes would snare the baseball--with Our Number 10 standing right in front of him--off the bag. After tagging Belliard out for the second out of the frame, Barmes threw across the infield to retire Bonifacio for a double play and The Defensive Play of This Game. And as it turned out, The Harbinger of things to come for Washington this evening in Denver. It was all downhill for Our Washington Nationals after this rally killing double play.

During the game, MASN's Debbi Taylor announced that Felipe Lopez had signed a free-agent contract with The St. Louis Cardinals. Later, The St. Louis Broadcasters mentioned the deal on the Cardinals TV Game versus The Dodgers. Interestingly, it appears FLop was signed to a Major League Contract and will be inserted into the starting lineup.

Also, Charlie and Dave mentioned on the radio that Livan Hernandez, released by The Minnesota Twins, may have been picked up on waivers by The Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were not confirming. If true, there is a good possibility that Livo may pitch against Our Washington Nationals at New Nationals Park sometime late next week. Old Number 61 may get his chance to pitch in the new ballpark on South Capitol Street--after all. If so, you know that Livan Hernandez will be received nicely by Our Fans. He will be a favorite of mine for a long, long time.

Tonight's InGame Photo--(AP) Mark J. Terrill


Anonymous said...

SBF- Can you really blame Milledge when the 1st base coach sent him? Review the play and you'll see Morales clearly signalling him to 2nd.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Will there be a blog entry about Stan Kasten's announcement that the Nats probably won't sign most of their draft picks?

Positively Half St. said...

I am certainly not happy about what Kasten said. I have to agree about Milledge, too- I saw Morales had sent him. The kid is supposed to follow his first base coach.

I'm glad I missed the end of the game. I actually woke up long enough to go down just before the top of the 9th. I saw the score, gave up the lost cause, and went back to bed.

Anonymous said...

re Milledge, we 9,000 viewers had a much better angle on the play than either the player or the coach. We could clearly see he wouldn't make it, but we could also clearly see that he was being sent.

Tough loss, but it's hard to make a 2-run lead hold up in that yard. Especially with the Rockies making some very nice defensive plays (I include here Tulowitzki's line-drive DP; I don't fault Zimmeran for that.)

Anonymous said...

Tought one for Lannan. I was watching the Rockies broadcast through MLB Extra Innings and the Rockies announcers were really excited when they pulled Lannan out of the game. They openly admitted that they felt Colorado had no chance of winning the game with him on the mound.

Anonymous said...

Manny Acta sucks when it comes managing pitchers. He manages like he is reading from a Manager for Dummies book. It reads like this.....

"if starting pitcher A gets to a 100 pitches then remove from game and put in reliever B who did not pitch the night before. Repeat until you have the worst team in baseball."

Anonymous said...

In defense of Manny Acta, he made the right move last night.

1. You have a young pitcher in August who is five pitches from a career high. He’s thrown a lot of innings this year.
2. The team is 28 games under .500. In the big scheme of things the pennant race is not of the line.
3. The bullpen’s ERA has been the best in MLB since the all-star break.

Criticizing him after it didn’t work is easy. However, if Lannan goes out in the 8th and then comes up with a tired arm, that would be much worse than taking the chance that bullpen can do the job.

Anonymous said...

Two comments:

1. Completely agree with #4 and disagree with Anonymous at 9:16. Also, since we're not privy to any conversations Manny may have had with Lannan and/or Randy St. Claire, we don't know if Lannan was getting tired or Manny and St. Claire may have seen something that told them that Lannan was at the end of his effectiveness for the night. Also, while you're at it, why don't you give Manny credit for removing Redding at just the right time on Monday?

2. SBF -- I don't think it's really fair to say that Lannan lost command in the seventh. Barmes' hit was a soft bloop off an off-balance swing that just found no-man's land. Otherwise, Lannan is out of the inning without even facing Stewart. On Stewart's HR, he clearly got a bit too much of the plate, but that's one mistake in seven innings -- something any pitcher would take, and not, by itself, evidence of a loss of command.

As for Ayala and the rest of the eighth inning crew, you're completely right -- no command (actually no control) whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Oh don’t think I was not criticizing Acta before it did not work too…..SBF and many of us have been pointing out the problem with Acta’s approach all year. But hey your point about it not really being a big issue for this year is well made except I would come to a different conclusion, that is, keeping a starter in longer to have him learn and build arm strength is a good thing now when it does not matter. Based on how Lannan throws, I kind of doubt he is in danger going 130 pitches once in a while and the number of innings does not seem high to me. He has long periods of rest between starts and someone has to pitch the innings….is 200 innings really that many over 7 months?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Anonymous @10:23AM John Lannan pitched an outstanding game. He had command all night and on just one pitch he lost commmand and it was costly. That is all I am saying. You can't complain about that young man's effort last night. The fact that John was nearly crying in the postgame press conference was pretty hard to watch. He cared, but knew one mistake had destroyed an otherwise marvelous performance. He is going to learn from that mistake and a better team behind him on the mound, would not have allowed this game to get so far out of hand.

John Lannan was SO CLOSE to pitching a MASTERPIECE. Sadly, he lost. He went to Graduate School Last Night.

greg said...

anonymous, you have to build arm strength gradually. they're likely looking at two years ago vs last year vs this year and what the increase in innings has been each year.

lannan pitched 158 innings last year. he's already pitched 134 this year, with probably 8 or 9 starts left. if he pitches 6 innings in each, that's 182-188 innings. a reasonable increase of 30ip. if he ends up over 200, we start to get into the area where history shows guys could break down soon after such a large increase in innings.

Anonymous said...

The discussion about how to treat young pitchers is a good one, and I don't want to derail it in any way.

But I'd like to pick on just one little thing buried in here: not every home run was a mistake by the pitcher, and not every mistake by a pitcher is hit for a home run. Though I haven't reviewed the game tape with Randy St. Claire or anything, I'll bet you 17 cents, right now, that John Lannan made at least 8 mistakes last night. Only one of them traveled over the outfield wall.

(I see and hear professional sports-writers and -casters make this error constantly, so it's perfectly understandable. But what are blogs for, if not for venting about our pet peeves?)

Anonymous said...

Scooter raises a good point. Right now, some Rox blog is probably going on about how well they played, not what mistakes Manny may or may not have made. Sometimes the other guy just beats you.
Now, five walks and two hit batters, that's not the other guy beating you. Manny didn't lose this game, but I have to wonder what was going on in the bullpen, that all three of them couldn't find the strike zone with a gps, google earth, a dog, and a geiger counter.
Or something.
Go vote for the Rushmores now.

Anonymous said...

That Anon. was supposed to be me.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Scooter: I was talking with someone today that mentioned exactly what you stated about Lannan possibly making more mistakes, it's just that The Rox didn't hit John out of the park. They missed his bad pitches previously. In fact, my friend was telling me that he was surprised to see Number 31 come out for the 7th, as he felt Lannan was tiring.

He pitched alot of innings so far this year, and has nearly 7 more weeks to go.

Of course--a two out bloop single and one bad toss later, this game was changed. Maybe, Stewart misses that pitch, as others did before him last night, and it's another ball game. And we another reason to discuss a different situation on the blogs. Good point.

Anonymous said...

I hate to see Manning left in too long.

That was the only mistake Manny Acta made last night.

At least you had a chance in the 9th inning down by 1 or 2 runs but not 4 runs or more.