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Brewers 10, Nats 3: Homestand off to ugly start

Aug 21, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT


GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of a brutal road trip, the Nationals returned to D.C. on Friday night hoping to re-establish themselves as a legitimate contender for the NL East title. Then the game started and everything that happened afterward suggested anything but.

The Nationals were rocked by a last-place Brewers club, done in not only via a flurry of hits but a stream of gaffes in the field that seemed to get worse with each passing inning. Gio Gonzalez gave up five of the runs, four of them earned. Doug Fister and Tanner Roark then entered for mop-up duty but instead made a bigger mess of things, the nadir coming during a 5-run seventh that left the crowd of 29,916 booing the home team.

This game also saw Yunel Escobar depart with an injury suffered during the top of the first when he collided with the wall and a fan seated in the front from along the third-base line. It saw Max Scherzer pinch-hit for Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth (and line out). And it saw Trea Turner make his major-league debut, nearly beating out a fairly routine grounder to short, only to be ruled out on a call that required replay review to confirm.

Add it all up and you get an ugly loss to start an important homestand, one that leaves the Nationals under .500 (60-61) and in danger of falling 5 games behind the Mets in the NL East.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: The game was potentially still within reach for the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth, down 5-2 with one out and a man on base. But after Craig Counsell pulled starter Jimmy Nelson in favor of lefty Neal Cotts, Matt Williams countered with Ryan Zimmerman pinch-hitting for Clint Robinson. Zimmerman wound up striking out looking at a 3-2 fastball on the inside corner. Right-hander Corey Knebel then entered to face Ian Desmond, who struck out chasing a 2-2 fastball at his eyelids.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: It wasn’t entirely the fault of pitching, but the top of the seventh was a complete failure by anybody in a Nats uniform. Officially, Fister and Roark gave up the five runs, but they were aided by some atrocious defense. That inning included a catcher’s interference call on Jose Lobaton and an attempted throw to the plate by Bryce Harper that scooted past Lobaton and Roark, bouncing off the backstop and ultimately letting two runs score via a sac fly. It was ugly, and the crowd let the players know it.

KEY STAT: The Nationals are 11-21 since peaking at 10 games over .500 on the first day after the All-Star break.

UP NEXT: A couple of promising young right-handers go head-to-head Saturday night when Joe Ross (3-5, 3.86) faces Taylor Jungmann (7-4, 2.23) at 7:05 p.m.

  1. abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 10:41 PM

    The Nats just didn’t help themselves tonight. While the final score is what matters, it seems in a lot of bad streaks the Nats strikeouts help them get there. Good thing we have a night to sleep and regenerate hope after each of these frustrating games.

    At least CO is tied ATM and we may not lose ground to the Mets. That was close at home, I think NY got it wrong, but I have a dog in that fight.

  2. alexva6 - Aug 21, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    sad to watch RZim come to the plate praying for a walk

    has to be the worst constructed roster in play right now. keeping Fister active is totally pointless

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 10:47 PM

      Certainly not the worst. But I agree they have gotten themselves into a position with holes you could have hoped they would have avoided or worked out at the deadline. I still wouldn’t trade them wholesale for say the Phillies. 🙂

  3. JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 10:57 PM

    Ian D has to sit…no DFA him….he is no help at all…..I was behind home plate for that K and that ball was so clearly high and out of the strike zone as soon as it left the pitchers hand…..but good old guess and check Ian had decided to swing no matter what before the pitcher toed the rubber…..just not a MLB player anymore.

    • dcsnakehead - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:29 PM

      You know when you go to a game and their is an idiot sitting behind you running his mouth and spouting out crap? Guess what? That is you. Desmond has been hitting over .300 for the past two weeks. He has 4 HR in 2 weeks. Perhaps you do not realize that baseball players will be out the majority of at bats. Stop watching baseball. Switch to a sport with higher percentages. On the specific pitch you are referring to where Desmond struck out, the preceding pitch was had a called strike below the knees. All night the strike zone was wide in all directions. Protecting the plate is a rationale response to a pitcher friendly umpire.

      • JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:34 PM

        Come on…that pitch was at eye level……as he always does…he decides to swing before the wind up with two strikes….that is who he is….that is not what this team needs….play Turner…does anyone think this team is going anywhere this year?

    • Dave - Aug 22, 2015 at 7:42 AM

      Desmond’s play at the plate and on the basepaths manufactured 1/3 of the runs scored by the Nats last night. He was error-free on defense. I don’t know what game JayB saw that prompted the above diatribe, but it wasn’t last night’s.

  4. JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:00 PM

    It is no longer fire MW it is fire Rizzo now….he has allowed this joke of a roster construction for over a month while the team has lost and lost and lost……it is not going to change Mike and Ted Lerner would have every reason to fire you right now.

    You can not use your past strengths to defend this past 6 weeks of decisions…..enjoy Seattle or LA cause you have earned the right to apply for new jobs.

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:13 PM

      DFA Desmond and fire Rizzo tonight? Well I am frustrated too, and am not a big Desmond fan ( though I think he is a solid major leaguer), but that not only won’t happen it doesn’t make much sense. Desmond has value, and he has played well the last few weeks for the most part (I say that despising his guess and swing for the fences approach which I don’t think is smart or effective on average). And Rizzo, no matter the triggers he didn’t pull at the deadline and his faith in players not showing it thus year, well, Rizzo created a team that won the Division twice and he certainly deserves years more before that forward momentum is too far in the past to buy good faith.

      I hate watching them line this too, and there are consequences. I just think they need to be measured, appropriate, and based on the future, not the frustration of the now.

      Feel free now to insult me and tell me I don’t care enough. I will still read your posts, find the thought provoking in them, and agree you posting your opinion here, knee jerk as it may be, is better than saying you should be barred.

    • JT - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:20 PM

      Fire Rizzo? Sure, let go of the best GM in baseball.

      Patience. Still plenty of baseball left.

  5. JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:20 PM

    Has to be come consequences for this level of melt down over several months…..can not just be bad luck…..Turner is the future then play him. Ian is not helping the team…..Matt William has lost the team…that is clear….you do not go out and lay that bad an egg if you care and this team just does not care about MW…..Rizzo has the accountability that this team is a total dysfunctional group. I strongly believe Rizzo is a great GM but he has dug in his heels that on his guys and will not budge…..fine…..lots of good GM’s get fired and end up in new spots….he can sign Uggla and WIlliams in Seattle next year.

    • Steady Eddie - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:27 PM

      Enjoying talking to yourself, Eeyore?

  6. JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:25 PM

    Cespedes is 4 for 4 with 7 RBIs tonight and batting .300……that is why Rizzo has let the organization down…he cares more about his ego and his guys than doing what is in the best interest of the team….is shows.

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:33 PM

      I suspect he trusted them rather than put his ego above the team. If it was just his ego and this year I would have expected big moves as they swooned in July. I suspect he simply trusted them more than I did, and he knows more than we do. At the track you can bet the right horse and lose, it is part of the game. You try to take lessons from each loss though.

      And if I think Rizzo is a good GM, I am willing to suffer a learning year for the good lessons I anticipate will pay off later.

      • JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:38 PM

        Lots of good GMs to be had…..Rizzo has proven that he builds a great farm system and the worst pull pens and benches in baseball….then he refuses to make the trades needed for fair value…..We needed OF and Catching in July along with Tyler for the 8th….they were there for fair prices….Mets made the moves and are going to the playoffs because of it.

      • abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:51 PM

        Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong. Maybe Rizzo got it wrong this time, though it isn’t certain yet. But even if he did get it wrong, I trust him to learn from it. Two div titles and two disappointing years (I think over .500 is better that poor, but can be disappointing) doesn’t say “give up” to me. And showing some patience doesn’t say “gutless”, “doesn’t care” or “losing culture”. This ain’t a downward trajectory the last 11 years.

  7. JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:30 PM

    ENJOY putting your head in the sand?

  8. RoadApples - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    Very disconcerting in my opinion that the Nats Radio Crew ( that indeed are darn good ): whining about playing a later game yesterday and the travel inconvenience.
    Note to them boys: Stay

    • JayB - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:42 PM

      Nats and Nats Fans have nurtured a culture of excuses for bad baseball… is getting worse and worse and Rizzo has the accountability to stop it by holding those people accountable…….but he will not do it because he drafted them in the 1990’s or he shared a bus with them in 2000.

    • Section 222 - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:42 PM

      I was at the game so missed this. But I did hear Dave Jaegler in the postgame saying that the Nats can’t really even think about being in the playoffs until they get themselves over .500. That’s the truth.

      At least if they were complaining about the travel effects, they weren’t complaining about the strikezone. That really gets old.

      • abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:53 PM

        Heh. It all gets old but the winning eventually. And if we really had years of winning, maybe that too. Being human and all.

  9. natsfan09 - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:48 PM

    I just cringe at Desmond, Worth, and our bullpen right now. This team is just totally lost and sad. Plenty of baseball left? Sure, but at this rate, we will be watching the playoffs without our Nats in it. They just aren’t clicking, and I totally love Zimmy, but swing the bat!!

    • abqnatsfan - Aug 21, 2015 at 11:55 PM

      He does seem quite hesitant at the plate the last few days. Especially considering the power he had started to flash.

      Now back to my futile watching as CarGo tries to rally CO from 13-9 back against Clippard in the 8th.

  10. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 22, 2015 at 12:36 AM

    Poor pitching, poor hitting, poor fielding. Reminds me of the first three or so weeks of the season.

    • rlndtln - Aug 22, 2015 at 8:52 AM

      Can not understand the Trea Turner call up when we need a OF.Then we put the wrong guy on the DL.We are short a bench player and we put TYMO on the DL instead of Fister.

  11. Nats Fan Zee - Aug 22, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    Well, if this play continues and there seems to be little reason to believe that we will see a sudden about face anytime soon, I think MW should play Turner @ SS, Rendon @ 3B, Espinosa @ 2B, MAT @ CF, CRob @ 1B, Harper @ RF, Desmond @ LF ( yep, that’s right … If Danny can play there, so can Ian) and fo C, Pitchers choice.

    At least this will get the 2016 infield playing together and who knows, it might shake it up enough to shake off this funk. It CAN’T be worse than how they have performed save for about 6 weeks of dominate baseball in Late April/May and a week in June.

    Anybody else have any ideas?

    • therealjohnc - Aug 22, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      CRob won’t be starting at 1b next year. Ryan Zimmerman will. On merit.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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