Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Antidote Needs To Be Found

By the time the bottom of the 3rd inning was played tonight, Roger Bernadina had jumped not once, nor twice, not even three times onto the outfield walls at Nationals Park. Our Washington Nationals centerfielder truly looked like he was trying to avoid snakes in the grass. Flying spikes high to gain traction on the padded barrier, Roger needed to go airborne four different occasions in all-out attempts to retrieve hard hit baseballs smacked his way. Watching intently in Section 218, The African Queen and I really started to wonder whether Bernadina might break an ankle again?

Roger wasn't showing any fear and he certainly wasn't holding back trying to make those catches. Of course, Our Number 2 had few others choices because those hit baseballs were jumping off the bats of The Snakes--The Arizona Diamondbacks-- contributing greatly to another poor start from Jason Marquis. Washington's premiere off-season free agent signee made his 5th start of the 2010 season--his second since an extended stint on the Disabled List with elbow issues. Marquis' Saturday night August 14th appearance was no better than any of the four previous. Once again, he did not possess the toxins necessary to put those snakes down.

Which really left Sohna and I wondering: Is Jason Marquis Snakebit? Or, are his problems more than that?

Yeah, The Snakes were in town but the poisonous venom they can produce seems to have affected Marquis throughout his entire season. He's not been right from the get-go. Not since Spring Training began, not through his three starts in April--and certainly not after his two appearances over the last week. Jason Marquis' work seems tainted. There is something wrong with Marquis because he's a much better hurler than shown. At 32 years of age as Our Number 21 is this day, he might not have the velocity or pinpoint control of his younger years, but experience and knowledge should provide enough savvy, the antidote, to get him through any rough stretches. That's not happening here and it really makes us wonder why?

Jason Marquis threw three gopher balls tonight on South Capitol Street. All three pitches right down the middle of the plate. Look, Arizona's Miguel Montero, Kelly Johnson and Gerardo Parra might be good Major League hitters (and that's why they hit those pitches), but they are certainly not GREAT Major League hitters, nor are they labeled as Home Run Hitters. If there is a Home Run Slugger on The Diamondbacks Roster, it's Mark Reynolds, maybe Chris Young--but not the three previously mentioned Snakes.

Washington's Pest Control should have not spread further contamination.

And that's the issue here--Jason Marquis is better than this. Or, at least he should be?

Marquis didn't make it out of the 5th inning. He allowed seven hits, two walks and five earned runs. And he made Roger Bernadina run and dart and leap and climb all over Nationals Park's outfield walls. For the most part, Bernadina's efforts really didn't matter because Jason put Our Washington Nationals in such a hole tonight early--that not even Ryan Zimmerman's 23rd Home Run of the season in the bottom of the 2nd could help get D.C.'s Team back in this game. Especially after new Fan Favorite, Miguel Batista, entered this game in the 6th and ended up having, arguably, his worst outing of the season. The Arizona Diamondbacks getting to him as well. The Snakes, the very team in which Batista will tell you was his favorite place to call his home during his 17 seasons of Big League ball--nibbled and snacked, eventually stinging Miguel for three scored over his just one inning pitched. Montero taking Our Number 43 deep for his second home run of the evening. And yeah, Bernadina tested the padded wall for that one too--to no avail.

No, it wasn't a good night for the team that calls The Nation's Capital its home, but the more pressing matter and concern: What exactly is wrong with Jason Marquis? Expected to be a staple in 2010 at the top of the Jim Riggleman's rotation, he's been anything but for Our Manager. At some point, someone has to decide whether it's worth sending him out there again. Poisoned by The Snakes tonight, Jason Marquis again did not find the remedy to his year-long illnesses from the mound.

Final Score from Nationals Park where the home side didn't have much of a fighting chance due to another poor start from Jason Marquis: The Arizona Diamondbacks 9 and Our Washington Nationals 2. Loss Number 67 of 2010 was disappointing because at some point this year it's necessary to find out whether Jason Marquis is capable of better. No one has seen that yet and that makes the outlook for 2011 ever more frustrating. Just like the sight of watching Roger Bernadina running and darting and leaping and climbing to no avail attempting to haul in those baseball served up by Washington's starting pitcher that were jumping out of the South Capitol Street Ballpark.

Snakes were definitely in the grass tonight and that makes most people jumpy. But unfortunately, the countering agent provided by Our Washington Nationals this evening did little to prevent another debilitating loss, Washington's 6th out of their last seven games played. Countermeasures need to be found, maybe even more medicines tested. But at the end of the day an antidote needs to be found for Jason Marquis' problems. He looks weak, maybe a little bit forlorn, but he's not bereft of talent.

Hopeless Jason Marquis is not, although The Snakes did not assist him to a speedy recovery this evening at Nationals Park. Pouring on the venom, The Arizona Diamondbacks only added to the bitterness of feelings towards his work this season in a uniform representing Our Washington Nationals.

Not Good.

Game Notes & Highlights

We really can't say much more about Jason Marquis. He put his team in a big hole again and they never recovered. When he was replaced by Craig Stammen in the 5th inning, some in the announced crowd of 22,400 actually booed. In some respects, you have to feel sorry for the guy because expectations were raised so high when he first signed--but Marquis hasn't contributed just yet--and his work so far makes you wonder whether he will. Jason now 0-5 for the season.

A one time New York Yankee prospect, Ian Kennedy, pitched seven strong innings for Arizona this evening to pick up his 7th win in 16 decisions. Acquired by The Diamondbacks last off-season in a three-team trade with The Detroit Tigers and The New York Yankees, Kennedy hasn't missed a starting assignment in 2010 and at 23 Years Of Age (on September 1st) might be a long-term solution to Arizona's starting rotation. That is, if he can quit giving up the gopher ball himself. 24 players have homered off Ian Kennedy in 24 starts this season. That's a lot.

Ryan Zimmerman homered to left in the bottom of the 2nd for that 24th round tripper allowed by Kennedy. After that, not much more for Washington. Adam Dunn scoring D.C.'s only other run in the bottom of the 4th when Adam Kennedy ripped a single to right THAT JUST MISSED the head of Josh Willingham leading off 1st base. Willingham had to duck and cover himself from the scorching liner. A frozen rope that allowed the lumbering Dunn to just beat the throw home by Arizona's Justin Upton.

Only six total hits by Washington tonight, two by Josh Willingham.

Ryan Zimmerman made several fine defensive plays this evening--two rushing in on his patented one handed pickup and tosses to first base to record an out. Another on a hoping ground ball over third base and past the bag that led The Z-Man to the foul side of 3rd--in the grass. But not far enough away to keep him from backhanding the baseball and tossing it cleanly to first.

Then there was Ian Desmond flat out diving to his right--with the baseball already past him--in the top of the 1st inning. A totally smashed grounder by Justin Upton that Our Number 6 showed his incredible instincts and catlike reflexes by snaring the baseball at what would best be described as the 11PM position on a clock. Then had enough presence to right himself, throw to Adam Kennedy at 2nd to retire Kelly Johnson, who then pivoted and tossed to Adam Dunn at first base for an inning ending double play.

But amazingly, that was not the best of the evening. In the bottom of the 7th, Willie Harris laced what looked like a sure double into the gap of left-centerfield. Arizona's leftfielder, Gerardo Parra, did not give up on the ball. Being a lefthanded thrower didn't hurt him in this effort either. With just about everyone watching expecting the baseball to find the ground, Parra raced to his left. And just when you believed he had ZERO CHANCE--Parra dove to his left--as far as he could possibly stretch--and SNARED THE BASEBALL in his glove for The Defensive Play Of This Game. This defensive gem ended the 7th, ended with Willie Harris throwing his batting helmet down in disgust and, for most part, ended any further rally by Our Washington Nationals this evening. No question about it though, that was one pretty catch.

A complete transcript coming later--Miguel Batista was the guest of honor this evening for the usual Saturday home game "Inside Pitch Live" at The PNC Diamond Club. Batista and host, MASN's Rob Dibble, spoke for about 15 minutes and took a few questions from fans in attendance.

Abe won the 4th inning Presidents Race, then joined his fellow Rushmores to place a challenge toward the Arizona Diamondback racers--The Legends. A series of big headed mascots representing four of the greatest players in Arizona Diamondbacks history--Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and Mark Grace.

Maybe it's been there before and we hadn't noticed, but the "Out Of Town" Scoreboard in right center field displayed each team's lineups and batting numbers and averages before the game. A nice edition, if it's new to Nationals Park.

And finally with The Chicago Cubs in town on August 25th and as part of DC Craft Beer Week--an exclusive beer tasting will take place at The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk. Tickets will cost $22 and include a Scoreboard Pavilion Seat and the exclusive beer tasting.

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


John B. Ramsey said...

Took my 13 year old daughter to our first Nats game in five weeks last night. We fully expected to see a Marquis disaster -- the only question was how many runs would be given up before the pitching change is made. I hoped for four -- it turned out to be five runs. Too many to come back from.

I feel bad for Jim Riggleman who cannot possibly want to put this pitcher on the mound. But the Nats are on the hook for $15 Million, so I'm sure his hands are tied. Scott Olson, John Lannan, and Craig Stammen have all had some disappointing outings thius year. but they have also had games that showed that they still have the talent to be great. Marquis has shown us nothing.

We still had fun at the ballpark though. Bargain priced club seats via Stub Hub; great service at the Stars & Stripes Club, a Zimmerman homer, and a beautiful and comfortable night to watch baseball. We'll be back soon - just not on a Jason Marquis start again!

paul said...

Off topic, but wasn't Thursday night's game eerily similar to the very late game a few years ago vs. the Phillies. You could hear individuals yelling, the ball hitting the pitcher's glove back from the catcher, etc. And the T-shirt/baseball souvenir : fan ratio was quite low.

Regarding Marquis, I can't imagine the Nats will want to play him much more. Not with all the marquee names set to join the rotation!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Paul: So few people were in the park we could clearly hear the left field visitors bullpen phone ring--twice. Sohna and I actually laughed about it. NatsTown was almost a Ghostown at the end.

Nice play on Marquis/Marquee.