Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hangover Effect

After surviving last night's "Nearly Speechless" loss, The African Queen and I slept it off and awoke this morning ready to root on Our Washington Nationals again tonight--as always. And we were ready, watching the entire game on MASN, while listening to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on WFED 1500AM. Although, we are pretty sure some of our fellow citizens of NatsTown were watching a rousing Game 7 Hockey Playoff Match between The Washington Capitals & New York Rangers from Verizon Center. A series decider that found The Caps coming all the way back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to advance to the next round of The Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But for us, our attention was focused on South Philadelphia where Our Washington Nationals suffered badly last night and then played this evening in a manner that could best be described as The Hangover Effect. Monday's demoralizing defeat, setting the table for a sparkless performance this evening.

Body language means everything and it clearly seemed as if everyone playing for Washington was a little down. Understandably so, our players still appeared a bit stunned and slightly dazed. While we were hoping DC's Team could bounce back with a feel good victory, tonight's 19th game of 2009 turned out to be a very flat affair. Washington never really got untracked and The Philadelphia Phillies continued to bang the baseball all over their puny ballpark while taking advantage of a few key DC miscues.

Again not playing perfect baseball, a five run bottom of the 3rd inning by The Phillies was the microcosm of this entire game.

Our Washington Nationals can not make even the slightest mistake these days and NOT get punished by The Baseball Gods. During this evening's 3rd frame, John Lannan served up an off-speed pitch right over the plate to Chase Utley and the Philadelphia All-Star made Our Number 31 pay for it with a two-run homer to right. Not a decisive blow by any means, but hurtful when Alberto Gonzalez committed his 6th fielding error with two outs moments later. Another misstep that found Lannan flustered. John then walking last night's Philly Hero, Raul Ibanez, on four pitches--only to find Pedro Feliz taking John deep, one hitter later, over the left field wall for a quick 5-0 lead.

Mental mistakes and pitching command issues directly leading to The Phillies taking advantage of John Lannan. As sharp as Lannan was last Thursday Night in that extraordinary 1-0 loss to The Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Our Number 31 was merely average tonight--at best. Three total homers allowed (two to Utley), nines base hits, two walks, John wasn't sharp. And when The Defending Champions pounced on Washington's lapses again--this game was over--quickly.

Staggered and unable to mount any serious comeback, Our Washington Nationals played under what looked to be the effects of a hangover. That pounding migraine you just want to go away, but instead lingers and makes you feel even worse for another 24 hour period.

Final Score from Citizens Bank Park, The Philadelphia Phillies 7 and Our Washington Nationals 1. A ball game in which Washington never really had a chance to win.

Game Notes & Highlights

On the bright side, Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a 1st inning double tonight. And Adam Dunn continues to get on base and slam the baseball. His 6th Home Run this evening to go along with another single and walk, leaving Dunn with a robust .328 Batting Average by the end of this game.

Phillies Starter and 2008 World Series MVP, Coles Hamels, twisted his left ankle in the top of the 5th attempting to field a John Lannan bunt. After first believing he was fine, further warmups showed Hamels was hurting and he left the game, replaced by Chad Durbin. Durbin rewarded The Vulture Win as Cole did not finish the required 5 complete innings. You could tell Hamels was miffed he had to leave the game.

The Bullpen By Committee Approach now in the works for Washington. Joel Hanrahan relieved of the closer duties as of today. Garrett Mock not the 8th inning guy. Joe Beimel expected to become closer when he returns from The DL on May 6th. Assistant GM Mike Rizzo stating tonight that Julian Tavarez, Kip Wells and Beimel will get the load of the late inning work in close games for the time being. Note how all three of those veteran pitchers are his personal roster pickups after taking over for the departed Jim Bowden.

Willie Harris returned to the 25-Man Roster before tonight's game. Justin Maxwell optioned to AAA Syracuse. Cristian Guzman expected to be activated for tomorrow night's series finale against The Phillies. A corresponding roster move will have to be made. Alex Cintron or Alberto Gonzalez on the bubble to be optioned. "The Guz" will bat leadoff for the time being. He doesn't walk much, but he is the best choice for now.

Washington now 4-15 on the 2009 Season, 7.5 games out of first place. Interestingly, if not for playing Washington and winning--The Florida Marlins would be 6-8 over all. The Phillies 8-7, The Braves 6-8 and The Mets 7-10. If Our Washington Nationals had played well enough to win five of the late inning games they blew--they would be in the middle of the pack in a struggling National League East. Instead, they find themselves well at the bottom of the division.

Finally, The African Queen joked tonight--it takes a strong stomach to stay a solid citizen of NatsTown. And we are not wavering.

Tonight's InGame Photo--H. Rumph, Jr. (AP)


Chris S. said...

To be fair, Citizens Bank Park is roughly average in total dimensions, and last year the Phillies hit exactly one half of their home runs at home and one half on the road.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Chris: But, Citizens Bank Park allowed the third highest amount of homers per game in The National League last season--2.33. Only Cincinnati's 2.64 and Houston's 2.39 parks were greater.

And 6th in the Majors--AL Team Parks for the White Sox 2.76, Orioles 2.55 & Rangers 2.52 allowed more as well.

Chris S. said...

True, but remember that the Phillies have been built to live and die by the long ball, and they were involved in every game at Citizens Bank Park.

I don't actually know how to isolate that effect, but I was responding to "The Philadelphia Phillies continued to bang the baseball all over their puny ballpark..."

Last year someone sent me to a website that plotted more or less every pitch of every game, but the URL is slipping my mind right now. It was fascinating.

NatsGuy said...


I can't watch it anymore. I am still a fan but this is just too painful. This was the first game I have not bothered to watch this year. In ten years of the Senators and 5 years of the Nationals I can say I always hung in there. But I always felt they were doing the best they could with what they had. I don't feel that with this bunch. There is just something missing besides talent. Maybe they don't have any fire and that can only come from leadership. Manny would be a good manager with a great team that already knows how to win. This team needs a manager who can light a fire.

Hopefully I can get my fire back after a couple game suspension for lack of faith.

natsmania said...

Ok, as a Nats fan, I really have to disagree with the "puny" analysis of CBP. Last time I checked, both teams were playing in the SAME ballpark. And, I believe, in this series, the Nats hit more home runs than the Phils...so maybe, just maybe, we should all stop blaming the park... after all, we didn't play 15 games there.

Screech's Best Friend said...

No one's blaming the park for last night's loss. The fact of the matter is that baseballs are launched out of Citzens Bank Park at a higher rate than at most every other one in baseball--by both teams. That's always been the point. CPB plays small whether anyone else wants to believe it or not.

CG said...

I agree with you SBF, but even if I didn't, I think Nats fans are entitled to a little hyperbole if you look at some of the heartbreaking losses we've had and our record.

Chuck said...

Screech's Best Friend,

I really enjoy reading your blog, I try to read it as often as I can. I think it is so great that you and the African Queen are so loyal to your team. I wanted to send you an e-mail, but I couldn't find your e-mail listed on this site. However, I will be in Washington DC May 13-16 and I plan on attending the Nats game on Friday, May 15th with a friend of mine. This will be our first ever visit to Nationals Park and I was wondering what you would recommend regarding food we should try and things we should try to do at the stadium. Thanks for your help with this, as I said I really enjoy your blog it is an entertaining read!


SenatorNat said...

Manny does not exhibit a lot of fire, but he does seem to be very proficient - hard to know whether another young manager would make a real difference - when Rick Eckstein first arrived, my instinct said that he would one day replace Manny - I have no idea why my gut tells me that this may still happen. Nats have had some major things go right for them, and yet they have the worst record in baseball, and do not seem to heading out of the doldrums either:

Z-Man hot and signed to long-term deal;

Johnson healthy and second in NL in hitting and finds niche in the batting order;

Dunn everything and more than we could even have expected out of Teixiera at the plate and has terrific team attitude;

Dukes is playing, out of jail, and showing his many tools everyday;

Guzman is again a hitting machine;

Kearns is somewhat better than 2008 - somewhat. Williamham seems like a great National - fan favorite type;

Shawn Hill is let go, and is on the disabled list;

Joe Beimel looks worthy of the $2 million signing as lefty reliever;

Zimmermann looks like the real deal in his first two starts in the majors, winning both!

So - what is wrong? Pitching, pitching, pitching, starting at the back end: Hanrahan not ready to be a closer. Rivera did not get enough work, apparently, at WBC. Shell was shelled and then shelved. Hinkley not reliable. Mock is a bird. NO RELIABLE STARTERS - best bet is Zimmermann.

Fielding last in majors again, as supposed defensive type Gonzalez sent down over 6 errors at short, leaving Alex Citron, a joke in the field last year as defensive back-up to Guz. Dunn is still liability. Milledge gone to minors over fielding miscues as much as not getting untracked in center. Z-Man and Johnson at times not finding handle on the ball even, and Dukes using sunglasses only to adorn hat...

Focus, focus, focus: that much a manager can insist on. Manny observes but does not engage, it seems. Fielding practice should be mandated until Nats are in the middle of NL in fielding. As for major deficiency of pitching, there is little we can do until Strasburg and Van Allen and those types emerge. Bergmann; Mock; Ditweller; Ballister; Cabrera unlikely to fill out any good teams' starting rotation. Leaves us with Lannan and Zimmermann for the future. In the meantime, Nats Lose will be an oft-repeated phrase, me thinks.

Trust in tactical arms over stockpiling. All nuclear.

LetTeddyWin.com said...

SBF, looks like Bergmann's not going to be your closer. Optioned to Syracuse.