Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sorry, We Just Don't Get It

After Craig Stammen was lucky to get out of the top of the 2nd inning tonight at Nationals Park, but before Tyler Clippard fell apart in the 7th.

Before Aaron Rowand and Buster Posey both slammed out two run homers for The San Francisco Giants.

And before Our Washington Nationals allowed seven straight unanswered runs.

The bottom of the 6th inning was played.

In a nutshell, this one frame played of nine this evening on South Capitol Street, fully covers the frustration surrounding Washington's latest defeat. One of those in which there were too many we just don't get it moments.

Our Washington Nationals are leading The San Francisco Giants 5-4 as this bottom half of the inning commences. It's not been a real pretty game so far. What was to come did not help. The managerial decisions so mind boggling you really had to wonder what Our Manager Jim Riggleman was thinking?

The ever hot hitting Michael Morse leads off for Washington and proceeds to double down the left field line. Exactly what most everyone rooting for the home side at Nationals Park wanted to see. He's in scoring position. A solid opportunity to pick up some insurance runs. Then, the head scratching decisions commence.

Manager Jim sends Roger Bernadina out to pinch run for Morse. Morse has already homered and doubled in three plate appearances starting in rightfield this evening. Remember, it's a one run game still early, not late. We are playing the bottom of the 6th here folks. Why make this swap now when the pitching spot in the batting order is just two hitters away? Sean Burnett was the pitcher of record at that moment. D.C.'s lefty specialist is not going to bat when his name is called. So if Riggleman really wants to put Bernadina in the game, why not pinch hit him for Burnett--not pinch run for Morse. Then, after the bottom of the 6th ends--a double switch could have been made.

Instead, Bernadina runs for Morse and eventually Willie Harris bats for Burnett. Washington now burning a left handed pinch hitter off the bench that wasn't necessary.

Of course, what happens before Harris steps to the plate made little sense too. The fast flying Roger Bernadina is officially in the game and can score from second base on the softest of singles to the outfield. He proved last night he could score from second base on a bad pickoff throw. So why does Our Manager sacrifice bunt Ian Desmond with nobody out in the bottom of the 6th? We are now wasting an out to move a runner 90 feet. A runner that can just as easily score from 180 feet.

To make matters worse--Desmond lays down a poor bunt right in front of home plate--still within the batter's circle. San Francisco Catcher Buster Posey pounces on it and easily throws out Bernadina trying to make 3rd base. Ian safe at 1st on the fielders choice. Not only has one of Washington's strongest hitters in a one run game been put on the bench, but a decision to sacrifice bunt a runner, needlessly to third, has now backfired.

One out and a runner now on first base. Willie Harris stepping to the plate to pinch hit for Sean Burnett.

Then after Ian Desmond steals, Harris walks, still one out.

The recently recalled Justin Maxwell now stepping to the plate. J-Maxx the starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter for Washington this evening. Everyone knows Justin is not the best contact hitter. At the Major League level off speed pitches and high fastballs have always given him fits. Trouble--which D.C.'s team found themselves into moments later when Our Manager put the hit and run on. Maxwell swinging and missing The Giants Santiago Casilla's pitch. But Buster Posey not missing by tossing out Ian Desmond at 3rd base, easily, for out number two.

In a matter of minutes, Our Washington Nationals had run themselves out of a potential game distancing rally. And when Justin Maxwell grounded out 6-3 to end this most baffling of frames--all The African Queen and I could think of was: What exactly were we trying to do here?

It really made no sense.

There was no reason, at all, to take Morse's hot bat out of the lineup at this point anyway. What are we gaining by this move in a one-run game with three and one-half innings to play? Why are Our Washington Nationals giving up Ian Desmond with a sacrifice bunt when everyone knows he's just as capable as anyone of getting a runner home from second base with a base hit?

Why are we wasting a player off the bench in Willie Harris or Roger Bernadina--when everyone knows a new pitcher is coming in for the 7th? Sean Burnett is not going to bat for himself. A simple double switch could have saved either Harris or Bernadina for later. Why are we playing small ball in a game that was anything but pitching dominated?

Total head scratchers. This was over-managing to the max when swinging away would have sufficed.

Final Score from Nationals Park where the aggressive, attacking, not sitting on the lead excitement from last night's dominating victory over the Boys From The Bay was all but forgotten: The San Francisco Giants 10 and Our Washington Nationals 5. Loss Number 49 of 2010 made little sense because D.C.'s Team played conservative baseball. They tried to protect their meager lead instead of improving on it. There was plenty of baseball left for San Francisco to mount a comeback as the 6th inning moved to the 7th. Three more times The Giants were coming to the plate against Washington pitching. And all Our Manager could think about was protecting a one run lead in the bottom of the 6th as if he was playing the bottom of the 8th.

Sorry, we just don't get it. That bottom half of the 6th inning played tonight on South Capitol Street made no sense to us.

None whatsoever.

Game Notes & Highlights

From a late Friday night game and story posting on Nats320, to a early rise to head over to Nationals Park for The Picnic In The Park before tonight's game versus The San Francisco Giants--The African Queen and I are pretty exhausted--especially when we need to be back on South Capitol Street late Sunday morning. So this will not be the usual Game Notes & Highlights.

A complete story on the 2010 Picnic At The Park to come. To say the least The Pied Piper of Our Washington Nationals drew the biggest crowd for the first signing session. The autograph line for Stephen Strasburg probably ran a good 100 yards down the main concourse at Nationals Park on the 1st base side. Sohna and I stuck with what we always enjoy most--the photo sessions with players and coaches.

Before tonight's game, we dined at The Red Porch Restaurant and then took in the festivities at the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk Happy Hour. Our Man Trip was tripping with his support of Our Washington Nationals in a very unique way.

Craig Stammen did not pitch well again this evening. When he walked off the mound to the dugout after being lifted in the middle of the 6th inning--you really had to wonder whether Our Number 35 will be back at all in a starting assignment after the All-Star break. Craig Stammen is just not doing his job. The same might be stated about Tyler Clippard. Mr. "No Nonsense" not performing well of late. Now saddled with six losses and an ERA moving above 3.00 (3.31) for the first time all year. No one needs a break more right now from pitching than Tyler Clippard.

Ryan Zimmerman still hot at the plate. Michael Morse on fire. No one deserves more at-bats than Our Number 28. Morse has earned the right to play and Our Manager Jim Riggleman needs to find Michael more playing time.

I don't recall Justin Maxwell's batting stance being so pronounced at the plate? That's a wide stance.

Matt Capps official National League All-Star Practice Jersey now available in The Team Store at Nationals Park.

And finally, around 8:10 to 8:20 tonight at Nationals Park, the most magnificent glow you could ever witness during sunset occurred. The rain clouds that had overshadowed the day dissipated. The sun was shining brightly to the west. This golden hue overtook the ballpark. Very special and we doubt few others noticed.

Tonight's In-Game Photos, Nick Wass (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Jim H said...

Nice photos of the ballpark reflecting that golden hue. When trying to capture those colors while filming, it's referred to as "magic time".

Too bad the game was less than magical.

paul said...

Spot on analysis of the sixth inning, and Riggs also boxed himself in when he had no one to rescue Clippard in the seventh. For some reason he did not want to go with Peralta until it was too late.

Too bad about Clippard. The silly "peaches" song they play won't be the same while his ERA is above 3!

I was wondering about your stamina when I saw you at the ballpark at 2 pm. I'm thinking, will the Nats provide for a cot underneath the ballpark somewhere?

Edward J. Cunningham said...

SBF, you're not the only one wondering what Riggs seems to have against Morse.

Ken in Cincinnati said...

Don't agree with you about Stammen. He had one bad inning. Other than that, he did not pitch bad. He had the team in a position to win. Could he have pitched better? Yes, but that wasn't that bad.