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Over and out

Game just wrapped up at Chase Field. One hour, 52 minutes. Quickest game in this stadium's history, and certainly the quickest ballgame I've ever witnessed. Brandon Webb looked very much like a Cy Young Award winner, and the Nats looked very much like an offense that couldn't hit a softball pitcher, let alone the best sinker-baller in baseball. Put those two together, and you've got a shutout.

Two other post-game note.

* Jason Bergmann threw Washington's first shutout since Aug. 15, 2006. That's right: Not once since Manny Acta took over this team has a pitcher gone the distance. Bergmann only went eight, but it still counts.

* The scoreless innings streak ended for Bergmann at 20-2/3. Let me explain. He'd entered this game with a 19-2/3 streak. Then, with one out in the second, he allowed a home run. So, four outs should boost the streak to an even 21. But he doesn't get credit for that last 1/3 because it came in an inning in which he allowed a run. Make sense?

By Chico Harlan  |  May 31, 2008; 11:43 PM ET
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Next: Lineups, and an update on the one guy missing from it


Chico...I think you meant to say that Bergy threw Washington's first complete game since 2006, not its first shut-out.

Posted by: Ashburn | June 1, 2008 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Do I spring forward or fall back?

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Is the WaPo one hour ahead because they are in the Atlantic time zone? Have they moved the NJ blog offshore? Or to Argentina?

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

"Jason Bergmann threw Washington's first shutout since Aug. 15, 2006."

A scientist of rockets am not I, but should not that read ". . . first complete game . . ." vice "shutout"? Or is the intent of the sentence to express the date of the last time a Nats pitcher pitched a complete game in which the team failed to score and, consequently, lost?

Posted by: Edit! | June 1, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Gleeful Head is back! He flanked home plate in St. Louis and now he's on the 6-Flag commercial here. What are the plans for where the baseball was supposed to be in NatsPark? How about a giant, gleeful head?

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

mistakes mistakes mistakes...chico im beginning to think this isnt going to work out. its not me its you.

Posted by: love | June 1, 2008 1:23 AM | Report abuse

Give the guy a break. One typo does not define a career, just like one strikeout does not define a career.

Good work, Chico.

Posted by: Hoagie | June 1, 2008 1:38 AM | Report abuse

No breaks! Pepsi!

Posted by: CheeboigyCheeboigyCheeboigy | June 1, 2008 1:59 AM | Report abuse

duuude just kidding. i love the gamers and his general writing style. i just love to play overreact in the spirit of what this blog has become. and go back to philly, hoagie.

Posted by: love | June 1, 2008 2:07 AM | Report abuse

I watched part of the game and read the recaps from both Zuckerman and Harlan. It sounded like these guys knew they had no chance before they even took the field. This team is pathetic. The line up looked terrible. I wish they would can the season and bring up some youngsters. I know that will not happen because Bimbo Bowden will not admit that he has made mistakes.

I can understand why the Lerners will not spend heavily on FA's. Bowden would misuse the money. Look at the money he has wasted on FA's this year - Do Luca - $5 ; Jim Mack...- $1.2m; Estrada - $1. Factor in Kearns at $9mm and Young at $5mm and you
have $21.2 mm in money that Bowden has wasted. If I am the Lerners I would be pissed. If they are going to develop their own then bring up the kids. We have seen that Bowden's way does not work. The game last night was brutal to watch.

Also where is Dukes? I think this kid has some potential . Why not play him? If Langerhans is the best we have for right field then this team is doomed. At least the Expos, in their final years, were entertaining and competitive.

Posted by: mjames | June 1, 2008 7:32 AM | Report abuse

The Nats batters can look bad all on their own but Webb made them look just awful yesterday. Some were missing the ball by 3 or 4 inches at least. A lot of them looked like Wily Mo redux.

Bergmann looked terrific for most of the night. He is by far our best pitcher of the staff right now. Basically it was 4 mistakes from a 0-0 game. I liked that he went the farthest (8 innings) of any Nats pitcher in recent memory. I see a complete game win in his future this season.

Posted by: Dale | June 1, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

It is no longer "early".....

June 1 -

2008 Nats are on pace to lose the most games in their 4 year history.

Zim is regressing each year in the majors....Losing has it's costs, Stan.

So what long term parts have has all this losing identified? The list gets shorter each season.

Lannan - He is for real.
Rauch - time to pay him or lose him soon.
Zim - sure but would you want to stay?
Flores - great move, great news.

Worth more time but could be solutions
Dukes - I like him in RF
Milledge - LF please

Not building blocks so let's get something in trade or maybe Compensation pick....

Bergman - Trade before he regresses AGAIN!
Guz - trade now
Boone - trade now
Lopez - Any value, Maybe type B FA
Kearns - No Value, Bad Contract
Johnson - Maybe a July 31 if healthy
Lo Duca - No Value, Waste
Estrata - No Value, Waste
Misc Bull Pen - Trade each piece when they show a good week.
Reading - Trade July 31

Fire Bowden on Oct 2
Fire Harris on Oct 2

Start working winning in 2009 - as was the plan in 2006 by the way....

To Do List
Sign SS, 2B, CF, Free Agents
Empower new GM to trade as needed to win now by 2010.
Inform Acta, winning now is the goal not extended Spring Training again in 2009.

Posted by: JayB | June 1, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

JayB, you know what the Plan is, that stuff isn't going to happen. So get over it.

If you want to vent, wait till 2010, when the Plan is supposed to pay dividends. Until then, you get to watch.

Posted by: More Patient | June 1, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Off topic....I'm going to the game Thursday night. How has the Nat's Express to RFK been working lately. The two times I took it it was fantastic. But I've heard some stories of long lines to get on after the games. Are they true?

Posted by: Twinbrook, MD | June 1, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

So how is that Plan working out.......recall the plan was to improve each year and identify these two pillars are going backwards? No plan is a good plan without benchmarks.....

Take a good long look.......Something is wrong and my view is it is Jimbo and Acta's acceptance of losing. Do you think we are meeting the plan's benchmarks?

Posted by: JayB | June 1, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

JayB -- why do you like Dukes in rf? He's under .200, and unlike Kearns, has never shown the propensity to hit higher. Unlike Kearns, he makes many mistakes playing the outfield. He has a criminal record. His taunting the other team to the point opponents think the franchise is 'bush league'. Exactly what's his value, because he looks big and strong?

Trade Boone, he's gotten some key hits. Kearns has 'no value' because he played hurt. Zimmerman regressing so get rid of him. Guzman hitting over .300 so get rid of him. But Dukes is a keeper. I don't get it.

I respectfully disagree with almost all of your opinions. Dukes should be on the team, he's got a bad attitude and has shown to be at best a marginal major league player. Kearns should be given his rf spot back immediately upon his return, he plays great D and will come around with the bat. Boone should be playing at 1b every day until Johnson returns, he gets key hits and has value beyond the numbers in the clubhouse and on the field. Zimmerman should be given his long term contract now -- exactly why they are chinsy with him but threw away 10 mil a year on Dmitri Young boggles my mind.

Blaming Harris for players like Dukes and WMP hitting below .250? You can't get blood from a stone. These players were throw-aways for a reason, no matter how much the Nationals propaganda machine try to build them up.

Posted by: Ray | June 1, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The "Commish" must be giddy this morning, what with a less than 2 hour ballgame at the Chase last night. My goodness, he'll probably use the game tape as a benchmark for how all games should be played, time wise. It was nice to see Bergman save the bullpens ragged out arms for a day. Lets face it, Webb is just real good. Often when an Ace has an off day, such as he did against Atlanta, he will rebound the next outing, such as last night, to his prior form. If the Nats can win today they'll finish this trip 3 and 3. I think most of us would take that as a positive.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 1, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Twinbrook, MD, I stood in a long line after last Friday's game (where I saw some offense!). The line turned the corner at the end of the block - but it moved fast, was on the bus in about 10 min. The shuttle is the way to go - hard to beat free parking.

I think it is a testament to how good the DBacks are this year - they turned 4 mistakes into 4 homers. That's an offensive team with patient, smart hitters. Bergy pitched awesome, forget the score, the guy had a 4-1 strike/ball ratio - actually better than Webb. He's loaded with potential.

What I find more mind boggling about this year so far is the fact that we have gained so much pitching (albeit rough around the edges) while at the same time loosing ground on hitting. They look good on paper, but are all falling flat. Can this be Harris' fault, or are these guys (Dukes, WMP, Kearns) just not as good as we thought?

Posted by: Cajund | June 1, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

OT: finally,0,3303554.story

Orioles take steps to return 'Baltimore' to road uniforms
Sources: Club to add city name beginning next season

Posted by: 231 | June 1, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

wow, the time stamps are still screwed up, eh? i posted at an accurate 11:41, but the four posts after mine were all posted before me. *sigh*

Posted by: 231 | June 1, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"I think it is a testament to how good the DBacks are this year - they turned 4 mistakes into 4 homers. That's an offensive team with patient, smart hitters."

That's not what Sutton and Knight were saying on the broadcast last night. They pointed out several times that the DBacks have several guys who are among the league leaders in strikeouts. These also happened to be the guys who homered last night. They're not patient, smart hitters, they're guys who come up there hacking and sometimes connect. They're not working the count like patient, smart hitters do. Basically, they're Wily Mo Pena, except that unlike Pena they actually connect sometimes.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | June 1, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

To correct my own last post, they threw away $10 mil total on Young -- $5 mil per year for two years -- not $10 per year.

Posted by: Ray | June 1, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

So was Bergman pitching from 1st Base when he threw that 90'pitch to Reynolds?

Posted by: WaPo Editor | June 1, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Chico's post implies a criticism of Acta, that somehow it's Manny's arrival that signaled the end of complete games and that this is a bad thing.

It's pretty clear to me that certainly last year the bullpen was our greatest strength, and the starters a major weakness, and that Manny's aggressive us of the pen was major factor in the Nationals out-performing our Pythagorean record.

This season you could argue (as Chico has) that the starters have been better than the pen and that Manny's continued aggressiveness reveals him as just a habitual pitcher-changer.

I don't think that gives Manny enough credit for knowing when to pull his guys. It's possible that if he let all the SPs pitch 1-2 innings longer that they'd all have ERAs 1 run above where they are right now. Mediocre pitchers routinely see their ERAs balloon the 3rd (and 4th) time through the lineup. So maybe, just maybe, the SPs look as good as they do in part because they haven't been asked to do more.

Also, I think there's an overly rosy-colored view of the SPs going on here. We're getting more from them than what we have any right to expect, and it's not likely to continue. Redding and Perez I think are pretty likely to revert to form and post a 4.50+ ERA in the second 2/3s of the year, and it's not hard to imagine them turning into Jerome Williams and Pedro Astacio in the 2nd half. Lannan also probably isn't as good as he's seemed (at least at this age, a la Chico last year), Hill's almost certainly not going to go 30 starts, and Bergy as far as I'm concerned is in one of his periodic good streaks and will, sure as Ryan Church's latest injury, regress sharply sometime in the next couple weeks.

OK so that's a pessimistic view, but I think it's prudent for Manny to assume that some if not all of those things are pretty likely. Which means our best chance of winning remains to use the pen aggressively.

Having said that I still think Manny needs to find a way to do that without killing Saul and Ayala, which weighs on my mind heavily.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | June 1, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was faster than light;
She went out one day
In a relative way,
And returned the previous night.

To her friends said the Bright one in chatter,
'I have learned something new about matter:
My speed was so great,
Much increased was my weight,
Yet I failed to become any fatter!'

Posted by: speaking of time and girdle commercials... | June 1, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

OT: finally,0,3303554.story

Orioles take steps to return 'Baltimore' to road uniforms
Sources: Club to add city name beginning next season

Posted by: 231 | June 1, 2008 11:41 AM

Actually it'll be at the start of the 2009 season.

Posted by: O's Exec | June 1, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

A few things:

1. For those who said that the Nats should have gone overboard to sign Soriano, please remember that he is being regularly booed at Wrigley. He was a virtual giveaway from the Yanks. Maybe somebody knows something you don't.

2. Signing Zimm would be a good idea, as it was before the year began, except that it takes two to tango. Does anyone on this board know if Zimm or his agent wanted to do a long term deal before the season? I didn't think so. If he had a .290 / 30 / 100 season, he would probably have gotten 20-25 Mil. more at the end of the year than before the season started.

3. For those who want to spend big bucks on F/As, let's remember, it's not your money and, by the way, who would you spend that on? Oh, you just want to spend OPM. Sorry, my bad.

4. For many, the expectations were probably unrealistically high. This was not a real good club, going in. There was a high injury rate at first. The middle infield was spotty, unless Guz stayed healthy. Zimm was still a not quite tested quantity. The three amigos (WMP, Mill, Dukes) were shots. If one worked out, and was a solid ML outfielder for the next 5 - 8 years, fine, if two, great, if all three JACKPOT. Unfortunately, the only way to find out was/is to play them. The only real surprising bright spot is Flores. But even there, it was a given that he was the catcher of the future. The only question was '08 or '09. Question answered. That, folks is how you put together a long term winning ball club. One player and one position at a time.

Posted by: Catcher50 | June 1, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Sori and booing:,1,4248490.story

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 1, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Catcher 50,

On Alfonso - (Not that I think signing him was the best move), I think your argument is counter to your premise. So what if fans in Chicago are booing him...take a look at the numbers, I think your whole premise is we fans do not know anything, right?

A Soriano
CHC OF 41 173 27 50 9 0 12 34 95 12 34 4 0 .335 .549 .289

So what if the Yanks gave him away....look at the long list of mistakes the Yanks have made.......

While I can agree that you build one player at a time, I hope you are not implying you build one player a year? If so, Flores will be a very old catcher by the time they find a full team.....Look at other teams who built through the draft....does not need to take years....D-Backs seem to draft young guys who are starting now for them just a few years after drafted. Our top pick, even as a 3 year college player is struggling to get out the first inning (more than one time too) at single A.

At some point you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that this plan is currently stalled. Changes need to be made to get it on track.

Posted by: JayB | June 1, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

i'm pretty sure "next season" is the "2009 season," isn't it? or is the board time warp so far off that we've warped back to 2007 and 2009 is two seasons away?


Sources: Club to add city name beginning next season

Posted by: 231 | June 1, 2008 11:41 AM

Actually it'll be at the start of the 2009 season.

Posted by: O's Exec | June 1, 2008 12:38 PM

Posted by: 231 | June 1, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

For the hundreth time (but probably not the last) signing FA's goes against all the best current thinking in baseball right now. Anyone who has put up big numbers in the past five years is suspect. And I still ask - who (besides possibly Tori Hunter - who probably wouldn't have come to DC anyway) should we have signed in the past two years? Andruw Jones? Barry Zito? Please name me someone . . .

Where is the love for Bergmann, today? He went toe-to-toe with the best pitcher in the league against one of the most potent offenses in the league. Kudos to Manny for letting him get the CG - it should be a confidence builder. Is is simply wonderous to behold one of our starting pitchers pitching after the sixth inning (and that is no criticism of Manny).

Posted by: lowcountry | June 1, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

This year, home teams are winning at a .577 rate so far this year (as of May 29).

Buster Olney says, according to several GM's, players, managers and scouts, it might because of the "influx of young players" who are more familiar with their home environments, or perhaps even party on the road, more so than the average player I guess."

Mitchel Lichtman on The Book blog subjected this theory to statistical analysis, and found that it is untrue.

"I don't know where all the GM's. players, managers, and scouts got the idea that there are more "young players" in baseball this year than in past years, or at least as compared to last year. There aren't, even though the average age in baseball is slightly less than last year. Do they just say the first thing that comes to their minds? I don't know.

Here is a nice conspiracy theory to explain the higher HFA this year: If it is true that teams are now allowed to keep their baseballs in climate controlled environments, what is to prevent them from taking out the livelier balls when they are batting or when they are behind in the game? I have mentioned that several times over the years with regards to the Rockies and the humidor. It seems to me that if you allow each team to "doctor" the baseballs, even if that means getting them back to their "original" condition, you are just asking some teams to cheat. People will cheat when given the chance.

Just a theory. Hey, I think it is a heck of a lot better than the "younger players" theory! At least I am not making up facts."

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

In re. flynnie's home field advantage posting (as this one may appear before it online due to space-time continuum issues), I'd wondered whether the fact that some teams were winning at home might be due to, um, intelligence measures on the part of some of the teams.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 1, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Whatdya know, flynnie and I are in the same time zone (12:59 FWIW).

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 1, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Interesting theory, Flynnie. Of course, one wonders exactly how far is too far. There are stories about teams leaving the grass in the infield long to help speedy runners; or angling the dirt tracks to first or third into our out of play, depending upon whether your team bunts or not; pulling the fences in (for the whole season), etc.; and even building a club around a ballpark (see Cardinals under the white rat). If, however a team is "adjusting" the balls in play, that is going way over the line.

Let's call in Bud Selig to investigate and find out if there are teams taking advantage. Oh wait, it took him a decade to figure out the steroid problem. Never Mind!

Posted by: Catcher50 | June 1, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50- You are indeed a baseball man!

Last year's free agent crop: I have seen it suggested that the Nats should have signed Tori Hunter, Aaron Rowand, Kyle Lohse or Livo. It made sense to give Lastings a try at center field. Odalis has proven to be an excellent signing. LoDuca gives the Nats a career .290 hitter, who has twice hit .300. To quote JimBow "300 hitters are rare, special people." Around the hot stove, I said give the kids a chance, and I still say that. Barry thought Flores needed another year in the minors. No one foresaw the birth of Nieves' hitting or the Yankees wouldn't have cut him. No one saw Pena and Dukes being so anemic at the plate. And no one saw the middle of the order, including Zimm and Nick Johnson, having so much trouble getting Guzman, Lopez and Milledge across the plate. Most saw this lineup giving the Nats a 68-73 win season. If you had been told that the pitching staff would hold opponents to 4 runs per game, you would've predicted more wins.

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

1a, it's great to be with you out here in the Atlantic time zone! Are you aboard ship? I prefer Prince Edward Island, where the lobster rolls are $3, the Gulf Stream hits the south of the island, giving you Carolina- temperature water, and you can seed Anne of Green Gables, a very beautiful musical, every summer.

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

OOPS! You can SEE (not SEED - please don't arrest me! I am not a perv!) Anne of Green Gables, a very beautiful musical.

Posted by: flynnie | June 1, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Not sure where I am flynnie, but that sounds lovely. Maybe you should stop in and see if natscan is at home while you're there... ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 1, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse


There may be a lot of us wishing for PEI or its environs before this summer is out. "The Plan's" 2008 incarnation might seem a lot more attractive from a thousand miles or so away.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | June 1, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

new (lineups) post

Posted by: 231 | June 1, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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