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Same old, same old for Nationals in Miami

Sep 12, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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The Nationals lost a close ballgame Friday night, giving up the winning run in the seventh inning.

Really, who could have seen that coming?

It’s a broken record now, but one the Nationals can’t shut off. They just keep going around and around in circles, making the same mistakes, losing in the same fashion every single night, their slim postseason hopes becoming slimmer every time.

Yes, their odds of making the playoffs, which actually were 25 percent at the start of the week, are now down to 1.4 percent following Friday night’s games (per Fangraphs). That’s because four consecutive losses — combined with five consecutive wins by the Mets — have turned a 4-game deficit in the NL East into an 8 1/2-game deficit. Yes, the Nats have lost 4 1/2 games in the standings in five days.

And those games were all lost in exactly the same manner: From a staff that gave up the decisive runs late. Nationals pitchers have surrendered 15 runs in the seventh inning or later over their last four games.

Friday night’s 2-1 loss in Miami wasn’t exactly the kind of meltdown we saw earlier in the week against New York, but there were troublesome signs nonetheless.

Casey Janssen entered in the bottom of the seventh of a tie game and proceeded to give up the winning run. The beleaguered right-hander immediately got into trouble when he fell behind 3-1 in the count to J.T. Realmuto, then left a fastball up in the zone and watched as the Marlins catcher lined it to left field for a double.

Next came a play that might as well show up on the cover of the Nationals’ 2015 Video Yearbook: Janssen fielded Ichiro Suzuki’s popped-up bunt, passed up a sure out at first base and threw late to third base, where Yunel Escobar didn’t even bother to attempt to apply the tag. That put Realmuto in position to score on a subsequent sac fly, with Bryce Harper’s throw to the plate way off-line.

At the plate, the Nationals squandered what few opportunities they had, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. They managed just one unearned run against six Marlins pitchers,

Low-scoring games can sometimes make a team look lifeless when it really wasn’t. Sometimes, good pitching just does that to a club.

This, though, did appear to be a legitimately lifeless performance from the Nationals, not just at the plate but in the field as well. And that could be a disturbing sign for a team that mathematically remains in the race but realistically knows that ship sailed earlier in the week.

The Nationals still have 22 games to play. There are some potentially major decisions that could hinge on how they perform during these 22 games, none more significant than the fate of their manager.

If Friday night’s showing in Miami was an indication of what’s to come, these final weeks of a disappointing season could be especially difficult to watch.

  1. JayB - Sep 12, 2015 at 6:28 AM

    I never thought it would come to this but Rizzo has let it come to this with really bad decisions.

    Janssen is so not a MLB pitcher anymore let alone the go to guy in the 7th…..high school hitters could hit that 86 MPH fastball…..Rizzo refuses to see the facts and for that…………….he is also hiding for the fans….he has to go on the TV during a game and explain himself……he has done it before with really stupid moves before…HROD the closer comes to mind……if he does not do it tonight then he loses a great deal of the good will he has worked hard to build…..Could not watch yet another MW excuses fest…..what did he say this time about further defining insanity by doing the same thing with the same pitches?

  2. JayB - Sep 12, 2015 at 6:39 AM

    watched it post game now… Rizzo has his plan….lose as much as you can with the same bad players and the same bull pen rotation……with the hopes of taking the heat of MW so he can keep his little buddy……hope everyone thinks nothing different could be done and it falls on players he is going to dump anyway……god that is not how standup folks do business…..Rizzo is going to back his way right out of this or any GM job with chicken SH/t moves like this.

    • jfmii - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:12 AM

      You are making no sense whatsoever, JayB. A raving lunatic spewing nonsense. Read your post before you hit send, will you please?

      • alexva6 - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:26 AM

        when it comes to JayB on Rizzo, Mark’s headline says it all

  3. NatsNut - Sep 12, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    If the team looks like it has given up, I think it only must be because they know more about the current injuries than we do and probably realize that even with a hot run to the end, they won’t make it through the playoffs. My guess is that R.Zim’s oblique is serious and Espinosa’s wrist is too (I know exactly when that happened. Dude is a GAMER). Plus, with Span out and MAT’s knee (probably) just hanging by a thread and who knows how many others they aren’t talking about (Fister?), the writing’s on the wall. I just feel so bad for all of them.

    • janebeard - Sep 12, 2015 at 8:03 AM

      I feel exactly the same. We won’t see Zimm again this season. Even simple oblique injuries take time to heal. I somehow missed that Espi had a bad wrist. In any other month, we could trade for someone to help the ‘pen. But not this month. We’ll be lucky to hang on to second place. I feel bad for these guys. And if you’re about to post, “They get paid millions of dollars! They should play their hearts out!” don’t bother. I don’t care. It is what it is. And what it is is sad.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      I missed it about Espi’s wrist, too, but I’m way behind in watching games and reading updates. I hope that Michael isn’t hurting himself worse by being out there at this point. He didn’t look right last night, imo.

      I feel sad, too. Watched the whole game last night and was disappointed but not frustrated/angry at what transpired. Maybe that’s because the little hope ember that lived inside of me is pretty much burned out (or smothered?) for the season. That, and maybe I have a bit of a pain tolerance reserve built up due to not having actually seen last week’s events play out. That must have [stunk] to see in person, or even on tv.

      (Oh, yeah, I forgot to say: I’m natsfan1a and I’m powerless over the effects of Nats baseball.)

      • alexva6 - Sep 12, 2015 at 8:29 AM

        agree on Taylor, the fall in the outfield, some funny steps running the bases. he needs to sit it out to avoid a serious knee injury

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 12, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      You’re the second person this week I’ve seen who mentioned about Danny’s hand/wrist being hurt. This I didn’t know. Can you fill us in? When was this? Please tell me he didn’t punch anything.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        See also:

        (Took me a bit to locate Baggarly, who has evidently left CSN SFO.)

        p.s. Is is just me, or is the blog s/w all [messed] up today?

      • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 12:03 PM

        Dang it. That was supposed to go with sofa’s 11:11 comment on the fortunes of the Giants. And I had to type it twice because the blog s/w blew up on me. grrr…

      • NatsNut - Sep 12, 2015 at 12:52 PM

        Toward the end of Wednesday night’s game a grounder hit him and bounced away. He shook it a couple times, looked down at it, then held it still against his stomach. He’s such a tough little MF that he didn’t draw any attention to it and even made the next out.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:07 PM

        Thx. He is one tough son of a gun.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:14 PM

        Thanks, NN, for the reminder on Danny’s hand. I saw that play, but I didn’t realize he’d hurt it that badly. Like you said, a tough guy.

        p.s. Is is just me, or is the blog s/w all [messed] up today?

        Those aren’t mutually exclusive. Just saying.

        But the page is misbehaving for me, too. Doesn’t want to scroll, I have to reload to get to the bottom.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 5:48 PM

        Yes, I’m having issues with scrolling as well.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 5:49 PM

        An advantage of the old-school desktop computer is that I can use the Page Down and arrow keys instead. 🙂

  4. alexva6 - Sep 12, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    might as well give Cole a couple starts, no reason to put Roark back out there

    same for Turner, and at SS not 2nd.

    • derwink - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:09 AM

      +1 on Turner. I would like to see Roark get more starts. He will be important next year with Zimmermann and Fister possibly leaving.

      Play Trea.

    • Dave - Sep 12, 2015 at 10:32 AM

      Yep. Time to give the September call-up guys a chance to show something. And to give the rest of us a reason to watch the games.

  5. Candide - Sep 12, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    After the disaster with the Mets, I was hoping they’d come out last night with “Natitude.” You know, like “Ckuf it, we got nothing to lose, let’s play like it” – steal bases, go in hard at second when trying to avoid the DP, even when it’s hopeless, etc.

    Nothing. When Janssen gave up the double, my only thought was “BOHICA.”* And it did.

    *(Bend Over, Here It Comes Again)

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 12, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      I had that thought when Janssen came into the game. 🙂

  6. rabbit433 - Sep 12, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Sure we have a chance. The Mets are 19 games over .500 and we are 2…..and in another nose dive. So, last night I watched the Mets play. Good team. Enthusiastic. Exciting to watch. Too bad I can’t say the same for the Nats.

  7. Another_Sam - Sep 12, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    I guess it’s the expanded rosters that prompt MW to make a few moves these days. I applaud the hook for ineffective relievers. And 👍 to Rivero.

  8. Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    It’s not that I dislike Matt den Dekker, as I have enjoyed his few successes this year, but I honestly don’t see him as being a ML caliber ball player, or at least not a starter for a winning team. That said? I’d probably have Matt play CF now and shut Taylor down for the remainder of the season, pin a medal on his chest for his efforts this year, and get him to recover and to prepare for some level of winter ball. Or if you don’t want to shut MAT down completely, then have him and Jayson Werth platoon with MdD on an every other game basis.

    As to Trea Turner, go ahead and play him at this point. I don’t think that he is close to being ML ready as a starter, but let him play out the season. No harm in him playing in what are low pressure games now, and the experience would be a good thing.

    • alexva6 - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      MdD is a fourth outfielder but I think he can be a valuable one

    • rmoore446 - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:31 AM


    • JamesFan - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      On what basis can you judge TT as a ML-er. He hasn’t played. Put him out there. Let’s see.

    • JamesFan - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      How can you say TT is not ML ready? He hasn’t played except in very limited ways. Put him out there and let’s see–although I know they won’t do that.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:31 PM

        21 errors in 111 MiL games tells me he could use more work before you hand him a starting ML job, not to mention his contract situation. Let him play out the season up here, work on improving his defense in Syracuse in the spring. Just my opinion JamesFan.

  9. Whynat - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    Serious Question: Does anyone follow the Giants closely? Since late July, their swan dive has mirrored the Nats. What’s behind it? Did their GM and manager get stupid? Players loose heart? Injuries? Just not their year? No bullpen?

  10. rgsie - Sep 12, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    Hey, Next year Baby….Wait until next year….World Series, parades and good living…yeah buddy.

    • natsguy - Sep 12, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      With what?

  11. philipd763 - Sep 12, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    This team is dead just like its manager.

  12. philipd763 - Sep 12, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    I think we have at least 5 more seasons of RZ ailments as his Nick Johnson body continues to decline. Who needs this guy for 40-50 games at $20 million a season? He will be gumming up the first base situation for years to come.

  13. npb99 - Sep 12, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    I wish they´d try to keep a winning record, but it really doesn´t matter. What does matter is making sure injured players start healing and will be ready next spring. There was an absurd number of early year injuries last year, which made me wonder what kind of training and rehab program the Nats run in the offseason.

    • coolhandbane - Sep 12, 2015 at 11:25 AM

      Yep. It seems like we need a new training and rehab staff and program going forward.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        Well, Jayson Werth rehabbed in the Fairfax County pokey.

    • NatsLady - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:16 PM

      I was wondering that, too. One lesson is that players should have their off-season surgeries as soon as possible and forget the “rest and rehab” route–which seems to work in only a small percentage of cases. If Werth and Span had had their surgeries earlier maybe it would have been different. Span never got a solid spring training, probably aggravated everything with coming back too soon (and he’s not that young).

  14. TimDz - Sep 12, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    Safe to say the Nats will not make the playoffs. With winning comes accolades and with losing, unfortunately, comes finger pointing.
    As for me, I’ll write this season off as one filled with too many injuries, too few clutch at bats, far too many errors at the beginning of the season and one great season by a player who has most likely not even reached his peak yet.
    The wonderous thing about baseball is that there is always a team like this years Mets (similar to the Nats in 2012) and I wish them well…even though I don’t think they stand a chance.
    I will watch the remaining games, curse when they lose, cheer when they win and always root loudly from my living room (all apologies to my neighbors). I will follow the offseason moves and count the days to when pitchers and catchers report.

    • NatsLady - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      That about sums it up for me. I don’t look at it as two underachieving seasons out of three. We’ve had meaningful baseball into September for years now, and that’s a lot better than it used to be, a lot better than teams like Milwaukee and Seattle (what HAPPENED to Seattle, anyway, speaking of pre-season “contenders”)?

      Did you know that Ramos has the most RBI of any catcher? Did you know he is second in throwing out runners and that he is “Yadier Molina” in that category? Yes, he has a lot of work to do on his defensive game, but there are worse catchers out there.

      Maybe there was no out-bidding the Mets to get Clip back from Oakland. I know from the rumor mill that Rizzo was in there trying. Rizzo, like it or not, never likes to go “all-in,” as the Mets did. He likes to save something for next year and the year after. You have to admire Sandy Alderson for the job he’s done, but if the Mets wash out in the first round, it’s back to square one with them next year–great young rotation, but not much of a lineup. I could see the Mets beating the Cards–injuries are finally catching up with them–but the Dodgers are another story. I’ll be rooting for the Rangers, if they make it, as the underdog story of 2015.

      • Tyson - Sep 12, 2015 at 6:35 PM

        You really have no idea what you’re talking about with the Mets. They still have a stocked farm, even with all of the promotions and trades- contracted position players to return are Conforto, Grandy, Lagares, Duda, Wright, Flores, d’Arnaud, Tejada, Cuddyer. That’s a nice foundation to have on top of Harvey, deGrom, Syndergard, Matz and Wheeler coming back in June/July. Also returning from infury/surgeries will be just about the entire bullpen which went down in the spring and first half of the season, with Familia emerging as on of the best closers in the game.

        The reason that the Mets lineup was pitiful for 2 months was because of injuries. Wright, d’Arnaud, Cuddyer, Duda and Lagares either missed tons of time or had chronic conditions that effected them before DL stints- Lagares may need Tommy John surgery, for instance. Not to mention that their envy-of-baseball rotation is cheap for the next 3-6 years, freeing up money to make runs at Cespedes or other big free agent bats, and potentially trading a big dog starter for top shelf bat.

        The Mets are set up for awhile, and this board has not given them respect. All of the losses last week weren’t wins for the Mets, they were losses for the Nats acording to this board. The Mets second half run was a fluke, instead of the result of activity by the GM to address their needs. The only game that the Nats truly threw away was Tuesday with the walks, however the biggest plays were hits which could just as easily have been pop ups or ground outs. They came through when they had to. They beat the Nats from pillar to post because, I know it’s crazy but bear with me, just maybe the Mets as they stand today are a much better baseball team than the Nats? They have been since August 1. Rizzo had a chance to improve the bullpen during both deadlines, somehow he didn’t make a single move. HE was definitely in a tough spot with the lineup as all of the injured guys were coming back, but there were moves he could’ve made and again, I’m stunned that the only pen move he made was Pap… even a waiver deal would’ve been an improvement. Shockingly he did nothing.

        Keep saying the Mets have no chance against the Dodgers- as they showed against Strasburg on Wednesday, they have the pitching to match an ace throwing lights out and the lineup to exploit the smallest opportunity. The Dodgers are a flawed team, and don’t have the depth that the Mets do. You’ll see when October starts…. then maybe you guys will just tip your caps to the Mets and admit that they’re actually an elite ball club.

    • NatsLady - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:32 PM

      I’m also rooting for the Pirates to knock off the Cards for the Central Division. It’s not that far-fetched, they are only 3.5 games back and the Cards–whew! Just lost the suspended game.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:11 PM

    Go Cubbies! They were my darkhorse pick early in the year. NatsJack didn’t share my enthusiasm about them for this year. With Joe Maddon managing the talent I honestly think that they can make things very interesting.

    • natslive - Sep 12, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      With the Nats out – it’s go Cubbies for me too!

      • NatsNut - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:05 PM

        me three!

    • natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:08 PM

      Go, Cubs, go!

  16. coolhandbane - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:14 PM

    I have come to terms with the nationals not making the playoffs. Though the defining moment was Monday’s loss to the Mets. Mets are a better team than us. No question about that. But here the reasons why we didn’t play up to expectations

    1: Jayson Werth getting surgery late in the offseason. Look how his season started then he got hurt again (though it wasn’t related to his shoulder issues). Imagine a 100% healthy Werth at the beginning of the year.
    2: Denard Span getting surgery and coming back too soon multiple times.
    3: Rendon getting injured in spring training and being out for a long period of time
    4: Ryan Zimmerman developed his foot issues and had to go on the DL
    5: Ian Desmond had an even worse than his normal poor start, but this time with both the bat and the glove. We all know he should have been benched while he was on his cold streak.
    6: Wilson Ramos or Jose Loboton seemed to be able to field well thrown balls from the outfield
    7: Strasburg under performing early on in the season the getting hurt 3 times
    8: The bullpen, especially Jansson, struggles for the season (for the most part). It didn’t help stammen got hurt for the year.
    9: Fister not being himself by not getting pitches down.
    10: JZimm having some bad outings
    11: Gio struggles early on and has some other bad outings (and some good ones)
    12: Max post all-star struggles.
    13: Matt Williams in game decisions.
    14: Desmond always swinging for the home run and striking out all the time.

    • NatsLady - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:28 PM

      Excellent list. I’d also throw in a lot of bad luck and bad timing, meeting the opponents’ best pitchers, etc. Look at tonight, we get Fernandez off the DL. He could be rusty, but if not–!

    • NatsLady - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:29 PM

      I’d also put in Yunel Escobar at third base, learning the position AND probably playing injured a lot of the time.

      • coolhandbane - Sep 12, 2015 at 1:34 PM

        Granted some of my list is from others on this site. I added some as well.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 12, 2015 at 2:38 PM

      And according to one poster to this site, it’s all Rizzo’s fault.

  17. micksback1 - Sep 12, 2015 at 2:52 PM

    am I in

  18. micksback1 - Sep 12, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    Thank you Mark
    maybe I had it wrong

    disregard my email to you

  19. JamesFan - Sep 12, 2015 at 3:16 PM

    Time to start talking about replacements for MW. Easy to trash him, but in favor of who?

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 12, 2015 at 5:26 PM

      If Matt Williams gets fired, I wouldn’t mind seeing Randy Knorr get a shot. I think he would be the kind to kick ass and take names.





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)...

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