Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shooting Themselves In The Foot

"They are shooting themselves in the foot, one toe at a time," declared Dave Jageler on WFED during this evening's broadcast featuring Our Washington Nationals and The Philadelphia Phillies. Perfect summation because on consecutive nights, poor base running by Washington affected the outcome. Less on Tuesday night when The Phillies' Cliff Lee pitched one outstanding complete game in an eventual 5-0 Philly win. But three more mistakes at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday evening were gaffes that altered the final score.

You can't lay down a bunt, as Livan Hernandez did with runners on 1st and 3rd with one out in the top of the 2nd and have your lead runner caught too far off the bag. This wasn't a suicide squeeze, nor was it even a set safety squeeze. Just a move Livo made on his own. Yet, Ian Desmond showed inexperience when he found himself too far down the line toward home plate. A mistake that Phillies Catcher Carlos Ruiz wasn't going to miss. And his resultant peg to Pedro Feliz at 3rd nailed Desmond easily diving back in.

Miscue Number 1 in a one run game that only got worse when Justin Maxwell got caught off first base on a liner to right by Wil Nieves in the top of the 6th. Running on the play, J-Max couldn't get back in time before Philadelphia's rightfielder, Jayson Werth, caught the fly ball and then tossed his own liner to Ryan Howard at 1st to cut down Maxwell. Rookie mistake Number 2 in a still one run game--that incredibly got worse when "The Guz" got caught off 1st base himself in the top of the 7th, after Ryan Zimmerman broke his bat on his swing--the resultant softly stroked baseball landing right in Howard's glove--who tagged first base for the second straight inning ending twin killing.

Veteran Mistake and Miscue Number 3 when Cristian Guzman did not see the play developing right in front of him. This coming moments after Our Number 15 had laid down a sacrifice bunt with Pete Orr on second and Willie Harris on first with nobody out. But the baseball was not batted far enough away from Phillies reliever Chan Ho Park, who simply wheeled and threw a perfect strike to Feliz at third to retire Orr. This all coming in what was then a 2-0 game in favor of Philly--still close.

Poor baserunning coming on the heels of last night's three baserunning blunders and then the sight of Philadelphia pulling off a beautifully set up double steal this evening in the very first inning with two outs. The Phillies getting it done on the basepaths when Washington could not as Ryan Howard took off for second base with Chase Utley on 3rd. And when Wil Nieves threw through to "The Guz" covering second in an attempt to pickoff the former NL MVP, the smart Utley took off for home and scored easily when Nieves' throw was late and Cristian Guzman hesitated throwing back home believing--wrongly--he had slapped down his tag on Howard on time.

Mental mistakes that had Charlie Slowes commenting: "If I was not here with you Dave, watching this in person, then I wouldn't believe what we've watched."

"Unacceptable on any level," replied Dave Jageler.

Yeah, it was that type of night. And this was before Jayson Werth powered out a Grand Slam following two walks by Sean Burnett and a hit-by-pitch allowed by Tyler Clippard. The final walk coming after Raul Ibanez had lofted what seemed like a routine fly down the left field line that Willie Harris had all the way--until the wind took a hold of the baseball--and it landed in the stands. A cruel reminder of the frustrating two nights this has been for Washington in South Philadelphia, when Ibanez stayed alive, walked and Werth then greeted Jason Bergmann (who replaced Burnett) and blasted out his no doubt shot to left center that put this game away for good.

"We are just giving up chances to win," commented Interim Manager Jim Riggleman on MASN's Wired Wednesday earlier in the game. "And I am not happy with what I have seen these past two nights."

Sohna and I doubt many other D.C. Fans were pleased as well. Just a crappy game.

Final Score from Citizens Bank Park where Washington ran themselves out of most any advantage on the bases tonight, The Philadelphia Phillies 6 and Our Washington Nationals 1. Loss number 95 in 145 games proves again--you can never waste too many chances against any ball club--especially a Defending Champion. And as Dave Jageler so well stated--Washington was shooting themselves in the foot. And in doing so were making it impossible to get a leg-up on anyone.

Game Notes & Highlights

Livan Hernandez pitched another fine game going six complete while allowing just two runs, both scoring on non-conventional ways. Utley in the first on the double steal and Raul Ibanez in the bottom of the 6th when Desmond--while trying to turn two at second base--took a relay toss from Guzman and never set himself with Werth barreling down on him and winged the baseball well past Adam Dunn at 1st Base. Typical Livo though--seven hits, two walks and the ability to bare down when runners are in scoring position against him.

Too bad Our Number 61'st double stroked down the left field line in the top of the 4th didn't come in the bottom of the 2nd when his ill-advised bunt proved costly when this game was still in the balance at 1-0 Phillies. Just a costly bunt, which setup everything that came after.

Desmond with two more hits, including a double. But he showed why he is still a rookie when he got picked off third by Ruiz on Livo's bunt and then did not hold the ball with two outs in the bottom of the 6th when Werth came sliding into him on a possible inning ending double play. You sometimes have to fail to succeed, and Ian hopefully learned something tonight about The Big League game.

Ryan Zimmerman is really struggling at the plate right now. 4 for his last 36 and now batting below .290 for the first time since April 16--the 8th game of 2009. Adam Dunn 5 for his last 20 with four walks and two home runs. And Josh Willingham 6 for 38 in September--covering 11 games. Power needed from the middle of our lineup now missing as all three are unfortunately slumping at the same time.

And finally--before the start of tonight's game--while watching MLB Networks' Batting Practice Pre-Game(s) Show, a crawl was scrolling across the screen that displayed this interesting stat. Since 2005, Ryan Howard leads all Major League Players with 83 Runs Batted in against ONE PARTICULAR TEAM. Yeah, you guessed it--Washington's.

The Philadelphia Phillies now winners of 14 of the 17 games played between these two teams this year--pretty incredible stat too.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Matt Slocum (AP)


Chris S. said...

The problem with road games is that they don't have your awesome photo montages (usually).

An Briosca Mor said...

Isn't this the second time now that Livo has decided on his own to bunt, with disastrous results? Is Riggleman afraid to give him the sign to not bunt when he shouldn't be bunting? The guy can hit, there's no reason he should be trying to lay one down if the situation does not call for it.

Screech's Best Friend said...

ABM: Yes, Livo also bunted in San Diego unexpectedly with runners on 1st and 2nd and the lead runner was thrown out. Last night on MASN, Riggleman mentioned on "Wired Wednesday" that he believed he had addressed this with Livan then, but for some reason he attempted to bunt again last night. It was clear Interim Jim was not happy with Hernandez bunting in a hitting situation. Especially for a guy that can swing the bat.

An Briosca Mor said...

Maybe Interim Livo thinks he's less interim here than Interim Jim and thus doesn't need to pay attention to him. Interim Livo may be right.

SenatorNat said...

ABM - I concur with you once again. Interim Jim needs to win at least 7 of the remaining 10. Should Livo be the only guy delivering quality starts over the last 17 games on consistent basis, he has a better chance of returning than Riggles, for better or worse. Managers that manage .450 are easier to come by than pitchers who eat up innings...

SenatorNat said...

I meant to say that he needs to win at least 7 of the remaining 17, obviously. Winning five or less and I feel viscerally that Riggles is doomed. 56 wins and all bets are off. 60 wins would get him the job, as Kasten-Rizzo can say that he took a team everyone said would compete with the 1962 Mets for historically horrendous and he actually wound up winning one more game than the year before! Rizzo is a consumately good and respected baseball leader. But, our starters are not going to help deliver 10-7 record with four of the games are v. Phil and Dodgers who are fighting for home field.