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Nationals let another one slip away

Sep 1, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT


You’re not going to win every game. Nobody does. But when you’ve got significant ground to make up and not a lot of time to do it, you can’t afford to give away games that were there for the taking.

Which is exactly what the Nationals have done too many times over the last month, culminating with Monday night’s latest gut-punch: an 8-5 loss to the Cardinals that included all kinds of failed execution at critical moments late.

When Ryan Zimmerman launched a 3-run homer off Kevin Siegrist in the top of the seventh, there was for a moment as much of a positive vibe surrounding this team as there had been in a really long time. Zimmerman’s blast — which gave him 28 RBI for the month, tying a club record also held by Bryce Harper (May 2015) and Ian Desmond (June 2013) — gave the Nationals a 5-3 lead. Against a Cardinals team they’ve long struggled to overcome. At Busch Stadium, where they hadn’t won since Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS.

This felt like a potential defining moment for the Nats. They had been playing better baseball, winning four consecutive series, and now they were in position to take the opener of perhaps their toughest road series of the season, against a Cardinals club that doesn’t seem to ever lose at home.

And then … well, you saw what happened. St. Louis scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh, all with two outs. And just when you thought the Nationals might have one last rally in them, with Bryce Harper at the plate representing the tying run in the ninth, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon got caught in no-man’s land on the bases, giving away a precious out and whatever momentum they had briefly captured.

How in the world did they blow this one? Let us count the ways…

— Casey Janssen gave up four runs on four hits and a walk during that fateful bottom of the seventh, an inning that included a slow cover of first base on a grounder to the right side of the infield, not to mention a four-pitch walk to Matt Carpenter. In spite of all that, Janssen was just one pitch from getting out of the inning unscathed. And he threw a good pitch to Stephen Piscotty — a 2-2 curveball that was 12 inches off the ground — only to watch as the Cardinals rookie golfed it into shallow left field for an RBI single. And then he threw another good pitch to Jhonny Peralta — a 2-2 changeup down and away — only to watch as the Cardinals veteran poked it into right-center field for the game-tying single.

— Felipe Rivero let the go-ahead run (and then two more) score after replacing Janssen, the critical moment coming on a 2-1 fastball over the heart of the plate to Jason Heyward, who drilled it to deep left field, over Werth’s outstretched reach, for a double that put St. Louis back on top for good.

— Werth couldn’t make either of two plays in left field that would have ended the inning: Piscotty’s single in front of him, then Heyward’s double over his head. He was in “no doubles” defense on the Piscotty hit, playing too deep to get to the ball hit in front of him. Then he was in a standard position on Heyward’s hit, playing too shallow to get to the ball hit behind him.

— Werth and Rendon ran themselves into an out in the top of the ninth when the former took off for third base on Trevor Rosenthal’s pitch to the backstop, only to hit the brakes after a couple steps and retreat to second base. Unfortunately, Rendon (the trailing runner) didn’t see Werth stop until it was too late, leaving him in a rundown near first base. All of this came with Harper at the plate and a chance to tie the game with one swing.

— Matt Williams managed “by the book” at a time when something more aggressive might have been necessary. The decision to leave Janssen in wasn’t necessarily the real mistake: As stated above, the right-hander made two good pitches that should’ve gotten him out of the inning with no runs crossing the plate. Besides, had he pulled Janssen and brought in Drew Storen an inning earlier than usual to try to get Peralta, he would’ve lost the lefty-lefty matchup he sought for the subsequent Heyward at-bat. Williams’ bigger infraction might have been the decision to keep Werth in left field after his team took the lead. Werth’s declining defensive skills are no secret; everyone sees them. So why wasn’t Matt den Dekker inserted to take his spot? Would den Dekker have caught either the Piscotty or Heyward hits? We’ll never know. But he probably would’ve had a better chance.

Whatever you want to pin this loss on, whoever you want to blame for it, the simple fact is the Nationals didn’t execute when it really mattered late in this game. Just as they didn’t do during their two previous losses, at home against the Padres and the Marlins.

Both of those games, like this one, were there for the taking. But in a 1-run game against the Padres, Yunel Escobar swung away 3-0 with the bases loaded and grounded into a 5-4-3 double play that killed the Nats’ chances of a come-from-behind win. Then in another 1-run game against the Marlins, Max Scherzer lost to Adam Conley and the Nationals managed only one run out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation.

These are the kind of losses that stick with you, losses that could’ve turned into wins with only one hit in a big spot, one pitch with the game on the line, one strong defensive play when it was needed most.

No, you can’t win every game. But the Nationals have lost only three games in the last 10 days, and all three were games that were there for the taking, if only with a little better execution.

At this time of year, given the deficit they face, they simply couldn’t afford to lose games like that.

  1. Sam - Sep 1, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    That felt eerily similar to 2012, when Storen made good pitches and the Cardinals still beat him. It also – for me, anyway – felt draining. With every run the Cardinals put up, I could feel any hope I had of a miraculous Nationals comeback – both last night and for the season – slowly dwindle away.

    I will continue to watch and root for the team, but I am running on empty at this point. These are some really hope-shattering losses.

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:15 AM

      I hope the boys don’t feel as you do. For what it’s worth, I saw them battle until the last out. I didn’t see any “give up” in them. It’s still possible we could take the next two (today with Joe Cool against the substitute pitcher) and tomorrow if Max can please be an Ace again.

      Gonzalez is a 23-year old rookie (the Cards first-round draft pick in 2013), he’s a LEFTY (always a plus for our righty-heavy lineup), with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in 2014 when he started five games and appeared five times out of the bullpen. He wasn’t terrific in the minors this year, going 1-4 with a 5.20 ERA in Triple-A (13 starts).

      I think the Phillies will lose today because Aaron Harang but have a shot to win tomorrow with their rookie phenom, Aaron Nola ( Yes, he’s going up against Harvey, but it’s likely Harvey will only go six innings. The Mets are trying to shore up their bullpen, but it’s still a weak spot, and Familia almost blew the save last night.

      If we can pull out the two victories and the Mets lose one, we are back to 5.5. That’s really the best we could have hoped for on this little road trip.

      • dryw4nats - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:19 AM

        Thanks NL. I’m feeling pretty down this morning, and your post helps me keep things in perspective! Until we’re mathematically eliminated, there’s hope.

    • senators69 - Sep 1, 2015 at 2:52 PM

      I feel exactly the same way — the deja vu, it was there, then gone, etc, AND that, especially last night, the manager made a huge (negative) difference for the Nats.

  2. natsjackinfl - Sep 1, 2015 at 6:59 AM

    Excellent take on the game and the Nats in general, Mark.

    Mat Williams inability to grasp the gravity of any given moment is so apparent. His managerial capabilities seem limited to the book while lacking any feel for what he is watching and then adjusting based on the situation.

    • hersheyman - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:00 AM

      Well said

    • JayB - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      yup just like he has been for the whole year….glad you are now watching closer

  3. hersheyman - Sep 1, 2015 at 6:59 AM

    Dreadful loss in every way. Fits the pattern that this team has displayed the entire year, into last years playoffs. No thinking outside the box at all. While one can point to poor individual performances and injuries, the major problem is that M. Williams is constantly killing this team by not putting them in the best position to win at the most crucial of times.

  4. Miamidad38 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    Yes but; Mark I agree with everything. However, the real sin was allowing the walk to Carpenter. Jansen should never have been allowed to pitch to him, not with a lefty waiting in the bullpen. Jansen’s an aging pitcher with little left in the tank. His “stuff” departed years ago. And sorry, but this is the time of year when Storen and Paplebon have to pitch more frequently. If you’re gona get beat, get beat with your best on the mound. They can rest in November.

  5. jfmii - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:06 AM

    Didn’t even manage by the book, or he would have had Jayson out of there after Nationals got the lead. Horrible loss

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:18 AM

      I think Mat is using the “book” for amateurs and it limits defensive replacements to the last 6 outs meaning the 8th inning and not the 7th.

      Clearly, you defend the lead and not the lateness of the game.

      Again, he shows a lack of in game awareness.

      • nicefellow31 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:42 AM

        I like that “defend the lead and not the lateness of the game”

      • jfmii - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:57 AM

        Thanks for the clarification of what is “by the book” for defensive replacements. I know I was silently screaming to come out in the bottom 7 with den Dekker and Espinosa for Werth and Escobar.

  6. edshelton2013 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:10 AM

    This makes 19 losses out of 21 games in St.Louis over the last several years.
    The Cards are playing in a different league than we are. They are professional hitters who make contact and “keep the line moving”.

    • bowdenball - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:01 AM

      The Cardinals have scored 23 fewer runs than the Nationals this season. They also have significantly fewer sacrifice hits (balls put in play that result in outs but move runners), with 44 for the Nats and just 30 for the Cardinals. They do have a higher contact rate than the Nationals, but the difference isn’t big enough to be recognized without looking up the stats- 79.0% for the Cards, 77.9% for the Nats.

      The Cardinals are in a different league than we are, but it has absolutely nothing to do with their hitting and everything to do with their defense and their starting pitching exceeding expectations while ours has fallen well short of meeting them.

      • texnat1 - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:04 AM

        The Cardinals are capable of playing successful small ball against good pitchers. They have shown this time and time again over recent years. The Nats’ run total is inflated by big numbers against bad pitchers.

        I’d take this Cardinals lineup over the Nats every day.

      • texnat1 - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:04 AM

        The Cardinals are capable of playing successful small ball against good pitchers. They have shown this time and time again over recent years. The Nats’ run total is inflated by big numbers against bad pitchers.

        I’d take this Cardinals lineup over the Nats every day.

      • Guapo - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:27 AM


        Well said.

      • bowdenball - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:28 AM

        That is also a false narrative. The Cardinals have beaten just two starters I’d describe as “good pitchers” since the all-star break Noah Syndergaard on July 17 and Gerritt Cole on August 12:

        They win with outstanding pitching and defense. They win by beating the teams they’re supposed to beat. Those are the things they are doing this year that the Nats are not. Their offensive approach has nothing to do with it. “Small ball”? The Nats have almost 1.5 times as many sacrifice hits (bunts) as them, only owe fewer sacrifice fly, and a similar contact rate. Come on. I know old narratives die hard and the dinks and dunks and walks of the 9th inning of Game 5 in 2012 is still a fresh wound for most of us, but you can’t just ignore the facts.

      • texnat1 - Sep 1, 2015 at 12:57 PM

        Right, its a false narrative that the Cardinals are able to manufacture runs when they need them. Get over yourself. You are trying way too hard to be the holier than thou Nats defender.

        Why don’t you start by looking at what they have done in the post season? Even in the Giants series last year where they got beat, they managed to average 3.2 runs a game, whereas the Nats could only muster 2.25 over 4 games, despite the fact that one of those 4 games was actually 2 games worth of innings. In the NLDS against the Dodgers, the Cards averaged 4.5 runs per game and beat Kershaw twice.

        In the 2013 post season, they averaged 3.29 runs over 17 games.

        Needless to say they also outscored the Nats in the 2012 post season.

        This is a team that can manufacture runs against top competition in pressure situations.

  7. Another_Sam - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:22 AM

    As NatsJack and others allude to, in my view often it seems to my untrained eye that the manager is the last person in the park to realize that the pitcher doesn’t have it. This phenomenon isn’t confined to MW. On the other hand I realize that managing a pitching staff from a sofa or a barstool is easy.

  8. nats106 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:26 AM

    I wish I could share Natslady’s unbridled optimism. I can’t.

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:59 AM

      It’s not so much optimism as trying to envision a positive result given the parameters. I have difficulty visualizing the Phillies winning with Harang starting, but I can imagine them pulling one out with Nola starting. Doesn’t mean it will happen that way, of course. If my schemes worked, we would have split the Giants series–for example. Before last night’s game began, I didn’t have it in the “winnable” category. But, thanks to Gio pitching reasonably well and Matheny mismanaging, it became winnable. AND, even more, we were winning it! It wasn’t even, well, if so-and-so got a hit. la-la-la, Ryan actually GOT THE HIT!!! We had the lead.

  9. NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    Janssen didn’t have it last night. He wasn’t his usual hyper-twitchy self which says to me that, for whatever reason, he didn’t have the energy level he needs. That’s the kind of body language Williams and McCatty should be reading, along with the good contact the Cards were making.

    But I agree with Mark (as I had said in the Game post). You have a two-run lead, a total gift from Matheny and Seagrist–who, believe it or not, “won” the game. Put up your best defense. Keep Danny (who had just pinch hit for Gio, if I recall) in the game and say “thankyouverymuch” to Escobar. Sub out Werth for den Dekker. Yes, call on Janssen, but tell the bullpen that Rivero, Storen and Treinen should all get up, walk around and stretch those rubber-band thingies.

    To me, this was a case (another case) where the game moved too fast for Williams. He simply didn’t expect to be presented with a two-run lead in the seventh inning and he didn’t have his plan ready. That’s a lesson he’ll learn, but at this point, it’s very, very difficult to wait for him to catch up.

    • alexva6 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:38 AM

      +1, I guess my comments were in progress as you were posting

      just means they have to win the next two instead having the luxury of being able to split them.

      • rmoore446 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:45 AM

        Good analysis NatsLady and Alexva6.

    • hweiner3 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:56 AM


    • hweiner3 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      I’m new to posting here, but have been posting regularly on another blog for the Nats. I agree hardily with everything you say about MW’s lack of ability to manage situationally. The Cards game is similar to that of most good teams, and that is play small ball, and make sure everyone in the line-up is able to hit breaking balls as well as fastballs. If it’s strike 3, foul it off or put it in play. To win against such a team when you have the lead, you need to have your best defense and best pitchers. Rivero coming in when all those troublesome lefties were due up would have made more sense than leaving Janssen in. And Werth also needed to come out and den Dekker in.

      All told, the Nats still have a chance to win the division, but if they are more than 5.5 games back going into the Mets series, I don’t like the odds.

  10. alexva6 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    after Escobar ended the sixth MW should have switched in Jansen to bat in his spot and left Danny in the game. a half inning later he has to switch in Turner burning a pinch runner he could have saved.

    he’s still just a step slow in game situations

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:37 AM

      yep. I thought exactly the same (see above).

      • Another_Sam - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:50 AM

        Sigh. We’re all saying the same thing. Two run lead in the 7th at this time of year, you want to see all hands on deck – including the manager. Last night cried out for defensive replacements, quick hooks, and out of the box moves. There likely won’t be games in October to pull out all the stops.

    • pchuck69 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:58 AM

      Escobar had a terrible game last night. His hand is still swollen! What do they expect?

      I even asked it out loud, “Why is Escobar still in the game?”

  11. stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:44 AM

    I saw this quote in a year old article I was reading about the firing of Bo Porter, and it struck home:

    Most GMs these days hire a “yes man” to be the manager, as managers become more of an extension of the front office and less independent thinkers.

    That’s what we have here. Mr Rizzo feels that he has put together the best team his money can buy and Williams’ job is to push the designated buttons at the designated time. Hence the “three closer” approach (Janssen, Storen and Papelbon have all been closers… match ups aren’t supposed to matter to them). I think Matt understands that he won’t be fired as quickly for losing while following the script as he will for freelancing and coming up short (or possibly even for freelancing and succeeding! I know it sounds crazy, but that’s corporate baseball in the era of hundred million plus dollar a year payrolls).

    I haven’t liked Matt Williams or believed he brought anything apparent to the table from pretty early on last year, but I’m also beginning to think that responsibility for collapses this year run right through Willians to Rizzo.

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:24 AM

      Well, you could have said that about Bochy when he was the Padres’ manager. Or Buck Showalter any number of times. I think it takes years and years to develop into a good manager, to have the “reps” that you need to react to situations, because you’ve been through it (or something similar) before. You have to have a plan for almost every contingency, and at least an idea what to do when the unexpected happens. And it all has to be in your head, basically. No laptop simulations during the game. 😉

      • nicefellow31 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:46 AM

        Which is why, in the “old days”, managers developed in the minor leagues. In modern times, managers are hired from big league benches or TV studios.

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:49 AM

        Oddly, I’m not sure that Metheny himself isn’t a similar type of corporate functionary manager. Used to be a catcher, though. For some reason those guys may start out a step ahead.

        I think we can probably agree that bringing in a manager with Matt’s degree of inexperience just because they had a good relationship elsewhere has proved pretty disastrous.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 1, 2015 at 4:25 PM

        FWIW, Terry Collins came up through the ranks, and managed Houston and Anaheim, without particular distinction that I recall.

  12. pchuck69 - Sep 1, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    It almost always seems to happen against the Nationals but seldom the other way. Pitcher X threw a good pitch but they hit it for double or a homer or they drove in a run. Good pitches thrown by opposing teams, on the other hand, seem to remain good pitches, ie we don’t turn their good pitches into hits at nearly as high a rate.

    • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      Nobody does what the Cardinals do, stringing together bleeders, bloops and bases on balls into a four or five run inning, punctuated with a well timed line shot double. After a while you stop calling it “luck.” It’s how they play. We’ve certainly seen it before, up close and painful.

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:02 AM

        “Nobody does what the Cardinals do as consistently as they do it

      • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:08 AM

        No offense, but this kind of analysis reminds me of when the Orioles won that string of one-run games. Yes, it happens but it’s not a repeatable skill, season after season, to depend on bloopers and bleeders falling in.

        The problem, as I see it, is the Nats’ defense is not good. Period. If you look at stats and rankings, it’s very low. That’s what allows the bloops and bleeders, not some Cardinals’ magic. No, it was pitcher not getting to first base, poor outfield positioning, terrible left fielder, injured third baseman (who isn’t a true third baseman, anyway), talented but inexperienced first baseman, and so forth and so on.

      • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:14 AM

        We have only one outstanding defender in the outfield, Michael A, and he’s still learning. Harper is barely adequate (he frequently misjudges balls and takes bad routes) but he makes up for his deficiencies with enthusiasm and hustle. Werth, in addition to being slow, can’t seem to “find” himself in left field.

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:41 AM

        No offense taken, but this has been Cardinals baseball for years. Yeah, seeing eye grounders aren’t coachable, but those little punch shots to the outfield are. Two in last night’s decisive inning… how many in 2012 NLDS?

        We will disagree agreeably about this. I just think when you see the same team over multiple seasons and different players taking the same approach and getting similar results, at some point you have to stop thinking of it as luck.

        I thought I saw the ghost of Daniel Descalso out there in the seventh last night.

      • bowdenball - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:05 AM

        As I pointed out before, this is entirely false. The Cardinals are one of the lesser offenses in the league in terms of runs scored. They are winning with pitching and defense, not offense. One game to the contrary does not outweigh five months’ worth of clear evidence.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 1, 2015 at 4:27 PM

        So you’re saying, it’s just the Nationals they pick on like this? That’s actually worse.

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:02 AM

      I don’t think that’s true, recently. With most of the lineup healthy and productive, there’s been plenty of offense and plenty of key hits, even on so-called “good” pitches by the opposition. The losses are on our pitching (starters and bullpen).

      • jfmii - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:08 AM

        Agree totally. This team’s perceived invincibility in March was based on starting pitching. Got it for 2/3 of a season from Max, and everyone else has underperformed, with Max’s recent woes being the final straw breaking the camel’s back.

        And it didn’t help to have a makeshift defense all year.

      • Guapo - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:15 AM

        Exactly. Nats were a WS favorite b/c they were supposed to have dominant pitching and an adequate offense.

        The offense has been adequate. The pitching is below average in the NL.

        The top five NL teams in team ERA are in the playoffs. Pitching and defense wins in baseball, at least in the NL.

      • therealjohnc - Sep 1, 2015 at 12:40 PM

        Don’t underestimate how much of the pitching underperforming is due to the defensive inadequacies of the baseball team, which exist for a variety of reasons. The Nationals are one of the worst teams in baseball at defensive efficiency (converting balls in play into outs). That’s what happens when you have Escobar play 3b all season (not originally part of the plan, I know), Desmond struggles the first half of the season defensively as well as offensively and Clint Robinson ends up on first base for a substantial chunk of the season. Beyond that LF has been a glaring hole defensively, with Tyler Moore, Clint Robinson, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth all having their adventures out there.

        When you look at Fielding Independent Pitching, the Nats’ starting rotation has actually been quite good (outside of Fister). Gio in particular has been hosed by the Nats’ lousy defense. Despite the fact that his batted ball profile is basically the same as it’s always been, Gio’s BABIP is over 50 points higher (.347) than his career average (.295). That’s bad luck and bad defense combining. Last night was no exception. After the one out walk, Gio gave up: a swinging bunt chopper to Heyward that didn’t even make the infield dirt; a fly ball to RF by Molina that Harper took a bad route to (fooled by the swing?) and thus couldn’t keep the ball in his glove; and a ground ball that Rendon couldn’t get to. That was two runs, the third coming in on Reynolds’ clean single to LF. To his credit, Gio was mentally tough, not only stopping the bleeding but setting down the last eight batters he faced in a row to give his team a chance to win the game. Which they coulda woulda shoulda after Zim’s heroics (and Matheny’s own vapor lock as a manager).

  13. scnatsfan - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    Even the brightest optimist can’t see MW being back to manage next year. Rizzo can’t be so bull headed he can’t see what has happened this year.

    • veejh - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      Really, all these managing blunders are a carry over from the post season last year. Oy. I’m shocked Rizzo has allowed this to continue over and over.

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      I read an ESPN article where the author can’t imagine MW will manage tonight’s game.

      • scnatsfan - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:29 AM

        I can only see that if Rizzo wants to gauge how Knorr handles the team otherwise, at this oint, it would serve no purpose other then to stomp on Williams. I root, I hope, I understand math but I have a hard time believing this season isn’t over.

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:33 AM

        That’s the same sort of ESPN Nats expertise that’s still grumping about the Strasburg shutdown. Dude knows nothing about this team except the game he just watched, plus a quick glance at the standings. IMO.

        Wouldn’t be very upset to be proved wrong, though. I seem to be assembling quite a track record of that this year.

    • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:30 AM

      We shall see. He has already stated that Matt isn’t to blame for the dramatic drop in WAR from his frontline players. And to be honest I think MW was following the “three closer” bullpen strategy Rizzo approves last night.

      But this may finally be too much for even Rizzo to swallow. Again, we shall see. But I don’t think it’s a given we won’t see Matt in Viera in February.

  14. Doc - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:26 AM


  15. kirbs3256 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    When are the call-ups for the 40 man announced?

  16. nats106 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:35 AM

    Wow, I just the lowlights at the end of the game on MLB quick pitch. After Heyward’s double, I packed it in for the night and missed the WP/PB where Rendon went and Werth didn’t.

    Wow, ow, ow ow. I hate making political statements, but we need gun control laws to prevent the Nationals from shooting themselves in the foot.

  17. nats106 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:35 AM

    (saw) the lowlights……

  18. coop202 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    If there’s a dumpster fire with MW I can’t see how rizzo isn’t at least a little burnt by it…

    • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:42 AM

      I like your metaphor better than mine.

  19. philipd763 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    Yes, the relief pitching sucked but the real cause of the loss was poor outfield defense. Harper botched Molina’s drive in the 4th inning when he took a circuitous route to the ball. That lead to the first 3 runs. Werth, who can no longer move, misplayed or misjudged Heyward’s fly in the seventh which hit the base of the left field wall and lead to the other five runs. A more talented left fielder could have caught that ball.

    • coop202 - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:50 AM

      This is why I point a little to rizzo…. On record pre trade to mets saying several times we need cespedes

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        My feeling is that the Mets were not going to be outbid for Cespedes.

      • coop202 - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:12 AM

        Eh we’re holding on too tightly to future players that will likely never start for us but have huge trade value. We can pay, we just don’t

      • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:55 AM

        @coop202–as far as I know, the only untouchables are Giolito, Turner and Ross. Other teams had scouts looking at Fedde, etc. We don’t have a great farm system right now.

        Also, it remains to be seen if we “need Cespedes.” He wasn’t the Mets’ first choice (he was their FOURTH choice). Apparently he has problems with teamwork. Also, he’s 0-for-11 in the last four games (three walks).

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 1, 2015 at 8:58 AM

      Unfortunately, that “more talented” left fielder is NOT Clint Robinson or Tyler Moore. Mat denDekker and maybe an inexperienced Danny Espinosa but, certainly not the other two fan favorites.

      Cespides would be an interesting add this off season.

      • coop202 - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:08 AM

        Nah he’s too expensive under a new contract for us. That’s the disappointing thing about rizzo – he builds teams that on average should consistently outperform, though sometimes you have under performing years with 86 wins (can’t complain too much I guess). He doesn’t build home run teams though, and a large issue is his reluctance for mid year rentals for future bench prospects. That and I hope the O’s somehow move on from Buck…

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:10 AM

        Back a Brinks truck up to his house if you want Cespedes. Has anyone improved his free agent value more than he has this year?

        But he may be another one who’ll get a contract that’ll extend far beyond his probable productive years. He’s not a kid.

      • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:59 AM

        Not by me. He’s expensive and streaky. Reportedly has problems with teamwork. I agree we need help in the outfield with Werth presumably (hopefully?) going to the bench but I don’t think Cespedes is the answer.

      • therealjohnc - Sep 1, 2015 at 12:51 PM

        Werth is still one of the better bats on this team – his recent performance should have already reminded us that over 2013-2014 Werth was the best hitter on the team, ahead of both Harper and Rendon. Remember how so many thought Zimmerman was washed up/done? His double and HR last night, both in critical situations, merely remind us that reports of Zimmerman’s demise were greatly exaggerated. I don’t think Werth moves to the “4th OF” role on this team until maybe 2017 (the last year of his contract) – and perhaps not even then.

        What you should see more often is additional rest and late inning replacement for defensive purposes. But if a game is still close it’s hard to take a guy out when you might need his bat. Remember when Riggleman got BBQ’d for taking Morse out for defense in a game where Morse had homered twice?

    • therealjohnc - Sep 1, 2015 at 12:45 PM

      I don’t think there’s a LF in the Nats organization who would have made a play on Heyward’s double. There might not be three LF in MLB that would have done it (maybe Brett Gardner?). That ball was smoked, and at an angle (directly over Werth’s head) that is difficult for any outfielder. I’m not sure about Piscotty’s single, because I didn’t get a look at how quickly Werth reacted to the ball.

      The Nats’ farm system is actually pretty good right now. In addition to an abundance of pitching, Auburn CF Victor Robles has been getting a lot of buzz in the prospect press. You’ll see his name a lot more once the prospect lists are updated.

  20. stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    Does anyone know what the deal was for St Louis in the top of the seventh that they couldn’t get a bullpen move together? Pitcher couldn’t get loose, or what. Both Metheny and the pitching coach looked like they were trying to pass kidney stones the whole time.

  21. jfmii - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    Mets have those three young studs, then old roly-poly Bartolo comes out and throws two straight gems with a zero-run relief appearance jammed in between. I’m afraid it is their year.

    • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      Potentially four, with Matz (next year, I’m thinking). It’s why they felt they could overpay in pitching prospects for two months of Cespedes.

      • coop202 - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:06 AM

        I’m sticking with I don’t think Noah is much better than detwiler was

    • npb99 - Sep 1, 2015 at 5:34 PM

      Exactly. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the line score. What’s with this guy?

  22. exposremains - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    I said it in April that this team is a .500 team. Too inconsistent. As much I want them to make the playoff, they would have no chance. Ace can’t pitch anymore, rest of staff(inconsistent) way too many defensive problem, bullpen unreliable(you trust Jansen in 7th inning of WS)i hear Brad Lidge used to be a closer as well…offense too many Ks, cant do the little things. MW inexperienced manager just a terrible choice for this team. Rizzo made good trades, drafted obvious guys, poor roster construction, too many guys playing out of position, bullpen build on hopefulness more than actual proven talent. He always says make guys with a good make up. I see a team that crumbles under pressure, maybe he should say a team of nice guys.

  23. stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    It will be, erm… interesting… to see if the Nats put on a late, probably futile run a la 2013 or fold up like a lawn chair. I’m hoping for the former but not as sure as I was a short time ago.

  24. tcostant - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    Read the Nats recap, pure golden Williams bashing

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:54 AM

      I’ll pass, but thanks for the warning. Today is a day for skipping the sports news on TV and radio.

  25. JayB - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    this team is made up of weak folding lawn chairs….they have folded time and time again the past 4 years…this is just the same team chemistry costing a whole lot more $ now with less heart and desire…they are all rich now.

    • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:07 AM

      You know what? They still brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. This team has many many problems but thus far “quit” hasn’t been one of them.

      That said, we shall see who shows up for the remainder of the season and who checks out.

      • therealjohnc - Sep 1, 2015 at 12:54 PM

        Yeah, the team has fought back from deficits many times this year, including yesterday against the best team in baseball playing in a place where they are almost impossible to beat. The players have a lot more fight in them than they get credit for. Unlike many fans, the players just don’t quit.

  26. JayB - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Yup put head in the sand….it sure works for MW and Rizzo

  27. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:00 AM

    I cant believe I am still so angry…

    Rizzo wont fire Matt. Pointless. As Rizzo then would be admitting that he may have made a mistake. And then that would open up the door to asking about other Rizzo ‘failures’ i.e. not acquiring another bat at the trade deadline, more BP help, etc.

    With that said – I love those people who now are saying that MW is a ‘scapegoat’ like some of his decisions (actually lack of) don’t play a part in what happens in the game. And then when you ask people, so what about ‘insert topic here’, the answer is, ‘Well, errrr, uhmmmm, he knows more about baseball than any of us combined.’ Love people like that…

  28. Misswonderly - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    Werth was playing no doubles for Piscotty because a double represented the go ahead run. Piscotty’s cheapie single tied the game. That’s why he moved up for Heywerd too: he represents the go ahead run, and even a single sinks you. Nothing wrong with the positioning, but I agree that den Dekker should have been in there when the Nats had the lead late. No saying he could have made the catch at the wall either: those catches are why we love Taylor so much, they are not a given.

  29. JayB - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    Njack comes to mind as do about 5 others….nothing can be done nor should it because we did not have baseball for 35 years……it is just baseball and teams win and lose and it is just a game of chance anyway

  30. stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    JayB, we all accept full responsibility for not being as unrelentingly miserable as you are every single day of the year, rain or shine. Your reward is a heaping helping of Get Over Yourself.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:33 AM

      Actually Stoava, somebody has to go through life constantly bitter about things that amount to entertainment for the rest of us.

      Let JayB languish in his bitterness. Better him than us.

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        That sums it up for me.

      • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        I’ll hope and scheme as long as the Nats are not mathematically eliminated. If it should happen that they are eliminated, I will still go to every game I can (just got my ticket for the make-up Reds game). Because winter.

        Also, you never know when there will be a no-hitter, or a great catch or someone hitting for the cycle, or just, you know, baseball.

      • stoatva - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:28 AM

        NatsLady, I attended quite a few Senators games, as many as my family could afford so not a huge number, between about ’58 and ’69. Watching those awful teams I nonetheless saw an unassisted triple play, saw (in Baltimore) Tom Cheney set the still standing MLB record of 21 Ks (16 innings pitched!) and countless smaller memorable moments.

        I’ve seen losing and I’ve seen winning. Unquestionably winning is better. But if you have no appreciation for the game itself (honestly, I took a hike for awhile during the hundred loss seasons because the stupid was making me crazy, more than the losing) then you simply aren’t cut out to be a baseball fan.

    • bowdenball - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:38 AM


  31. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    Lost in the angst (which I share) over Monday’s loss, the Nats made no moves at the August 31 last-chance trade deadline, right? Not that I was expecting anything in paticular, but it speaks to the ‘this is the team we are’ and ‘we’re not trading away the future’ approach. I won’t be able to watch the next two games, but I’m hopeful that NatsLady is right about the favorable pitching match-up tonight. We’ll see. And GYFNG!

    • NatsLady - Sep 1, 2015 at 10:49 AM

      Do we know who came up with roster expansion? Or is Rizzo waiting until the minor-league season is over?

      • langleyclub - Sep 1, 2015 at 11:20 AM

        Pretty much guaranteed that they Nats will activate the MLB players on rehab assignments (Carpenter, Moore and Uggla – I think that Reed Johnson had a setback). Given that the bullpen is a little taxed would not be surprised to see the Nats bring up Matt Grace and even Rafael Martin (who has been lights out) today as well.

        When the minor league season ends this weekend, they may also add a third catcher (which could require dropping someone off the 40 man) , and another left handed bat and maybe a long reliever.

  32. Muddy Ruel - Sep 1, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    Yesterday I hoped on this blog that the baseball gods would get a kick out of the having the Nats beat the mighty Cardinals while the lowly Phillies did damage vs. the Mets — b/c and the “experts” would pick otherwise. Okay, well, now I claim the baseball gods DID bless the Nats last night … but the Nats’ 2015 bad karma overcame the blessing. It’s not too late for propitiate the gods and move forward. Someone needs to kill s chicken …

  33. micksback1 - Sep 1, 2015 at 4:29 PM

    I am very frustraed right now. I was excited after Zim’s 3 run homer and I felt Gio did his best and gave the team a chance to win.

    Cards manager makes a RARE, and clear mistake by not taking out his lefty facing Zim or not walking Zim and facing MR. Groundball hitting Escobar.

    But alas…. not to be out done, MW tops the Cards manger in incompetence and exceeds anything he did in the department of being a horrible manager. MW has NO feel for his pitchers’ his team and there is no doubt in my mind that this arrogant BUM is the worst manger this team has had PERIOD since 2005.

    Yes Acta had issues, but, he had ZERO talent and had to deal with clowns and losers like Morgan and Dukes ad he had NO PITCHING!!! Riggleman at least got the team over 500 before he resigned.

    This clown, and loser of a manger who is so arrogant in the post game has destroyed this team and season.

    BTW: Jansen is a bum and a loser and the door can not hit his ass faster on the way out!!

    I know Rizzzo can not fire anyone now. But, Mike, if you let this clown comeback, you risk alienating a great fan base who loves this team for years. Please get rid of this arrogant and dishonest idiot after the season, PLEASE Mike, I am begging you!!!





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.
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