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Arizona 7, Washington 5

Andrew here for a final time, and what a way to go out.

There were so many twists, turns and near-misses in this one that my head is still spinning. A few thoughts...

The good: If you're going to lose, do it while swinging; that was Manager Manny Acta's message afterward. Going into the ninth inning, the Nationals appeared resigned to accept Dan Haren's two-hit complete game and fade quietly into the night. The fact that the Nationals scrapped to force extra innings -- and nearly won in nine -- has to be an encouraging sign entering the Houston series.

The bad: It was still a loss. No doubt, if Washington had been able to complete the comeback, it would have been an impressive feat. However, before the ninth inning, Washington lacked any semblance of firepower, and that continues an all-too-familiar trend.

Anyway, this has been an interesting experience. Thanks for the comments and for reading. Chico resumes his usual duties later today. Until next time, be well.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 11, 2008; 3:27 AM ET
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Next: Day 5, Blame and Solutions (Blame me and Luis Ayala)


Fenty should have the DC cops line up Ted Lerner, Stan Kasten, Jim Bowden, Manny Acta, and anyone else associated with the team and march them across the 14th Street Bridge over to Virginia like Barry did with all the DC street walkers way back when.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 5:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Andrew. Your comment re. the NJ experience brings to mind the ancient Chinese saying, "May you live in interesting times." Hope that we weren't too "interesting" for you. ;-)

Re. the game, it was great to see the heart showed by the team, even if they didn't quite complete the comebacks. I'm loving the fight that they've been showing.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 11, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Notice how the "fight in them" is returning about the same time Austin came off his rehab assignment?

Just sayin'

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2008 7:10 AM | Report abuse

A really good game, but if the Nats had gotten the interference call in the 9th that would have put Guzman on third, game's over when Pena's drive to third base gets bobbled. See you tonite!

Posted by: Hank | July 11, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I would respectfully suggest that Fenty should do absolutely nothing similar to what Barry did.

NatsNut and AK, sitting in a tree...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 11, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Good point, NatsNut. Speaking of Austin, both 1c and I liked how hard Kearnsy came into the plate (and the catcher) in the 10th. I seem to recall a game where he did that to a former teammate in years past - must have been vs. the Reds?

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 11, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I made it to last night's game, and was well rewarded for staying through the 10th inning (as early as I get up, I had to draw the line somwhere).

However, my patience with WMP is pretty much gone. My hopes for Roger Bernadina are also pretty much dashed, although it makes sense to suffer through a prospect's first exposure to the bigs. I must say, though, that it was really hard to see the two of them come up in succession when we only needed a hit to win the game.

It was very satisfying to see them wake up late in the game, but it would have been so much better to have that next-morning giddy feeling that comes from an improbable, come-from-behind victory.

Posted by: Positively Half St | July 11, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Good point, Hank. Angel Hernandez is sooo not angelic.

You're funny, 506. But we already knew that.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 11, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, it was vs. the Braves, but he'd played with the catcher as a Red. Thanks, Google (from 9/16/07).

Pals collide: In the eighth inning of Saturday's game, Austin Kearns barreled into Braves catcher Corky Miller at home plate and scored the final run of the game.

The two players have been pals since their days with the Reds. Kearns couldn't avoid the collision, because Miller is known to block the plate. After the collision, Kearns patted him on the leg to see if he was OK. Miller suffered a sore neck and ankle.

"I know Corky. I played with him a long time," Kearns said. "He stands in there. He will block the plate. It's one of those things -- part of the game. He is one of my buddies."

According to Miller, Kearns sent him a T-shirt after the game. Miller said the collision on Saturday was nothing compared what he has gone through in the past.

"He said he felt bad," Miller said. "I said, 'Why? You've gotten me run over worse than that.'"

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 11, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

See below my regurgitated comment from 12:18 am after getting back from the game. None of the crack professionals asked Acta about this after the game, preferring instead to inquire about his feelings on Bergman's performance and what the interference argument was about. Zzzzzz. (Acta said he was just wasting time and knew the call was right...)

"Home from the game, and I see the point has been made by a few commenters, but if there's a professional journalist in the house, would he please ask Manny Acta how in Hades he could let Bernadina bat in the 9th and Pena in the 10th with the winning run on 3rd base and Ronnie Belliard (and Will Nieves in the 9th) on the bench. I thought perhaps he was injured or something, but lo and behold there he is playing first base in the top of the 11th after Pena weekly grounds out once again.

The game was very entertaining and the Nats certainly fought back. But for goodness sakes, we had the winning run on third base twice and sent up a .125 hitting rookie and the eternally disappointing WMP (now batting .209) in those two innings while Ronnie Belliard, who WINS GAMES for us sits on the pine. I felt sick. It would have been better to send up Odalis Perez than Bernadina and Pena in those situations. (And come to think of it, what a great FU to Angel it would have been to have OP win the game for us.)

... Someone please ask Acta about his logic here. I believe we lost this game because of our manager, and I don't feel that way very often."

Posted by: Section 222 | July 11, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

"My hopes for Roger Bernadina are also pretty much dashed, although it makes sense to suffer through a prospect's first exposure to the bigs."

For an altogether unreasonable comparison, let's take a look at one Elijah Dukes:

- He was 0-12 to start the season (at least... I'm doing this by game logs, so he got a hit sometime in the game of his 13th AB)

- He got two hits in his next two games, then o-fers all the way until 2-32 (.038)

- Then, miraculously, he got good at baseball. Since May 24, he has hit 44-143 (.308) to bring his overall average up to .263. He was on a hot streak when he went down with the knee injury.

The point I'm trying to make here can be summed up in two words: growing pains. Roger Bernadina has a total of 30 Major League at bats. Lifetime. No one expects him to hit like Elijah Dukes, but he has twice as many hits (4) as Dukes had (2) at this point in his 2008 season (after 30 AB). And this isn't taking into account that Dukes had plenty of experience hitting MLB pitchers. Bernadina will catch on eventually.

Remember, patience is a virtue...

Posted by: boston | July 11, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Put me in the A.K. fan club as well. The guy does stuff to win games, I don't care what the stats say. He got two key hits and went at the catcher hard but clean. Two nights ago he kept a runner on third from scoring on a sac fly with a killer throw. He's a ballplayer. We need more like him.

Good point about Belliard too -- I thought he might be hurt because there was no other justification for allowing Roger "Rainbow Toss" Bernadina in there with his .128 batting average with the game on the line. Yet no one asked about why Belliard (or even Orr) wasn't put up in that situation -- the post game press seemed obsessed with Manny's conversation with the Balk Boy umpire.

Am I the only one sick to death of seeing Luis Ayala come in in crucial situations and lose ballgames? What's worse with this guy is his 'no care' attitude. I think its time to give someone else (anyone else -- Hanrahan, Shell, Rivera, etc.) a shot at coming in when the game is on the line. Why does Manny keep doing this to the fan base?

Posted by: Ray | July 11, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit that I was dismayed that Acta didn't put in Belliard or Orr to bat for Bernadina in the bottom of the 9th. I still have hope for Bernadina, but I just think you should put your best chance out there in a walk-off situation.

Posted by: Count Demoney | July 11, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to the team for coming ack twice and alomost three times. As I went to bed after the 9th, I will only comment that Flores could have won the game and didn't. WMP could have K'd but didn't and prolonged the inning. Baseball is a team game and them came back but ultimaely lost it.
Second guess Manny all you want but don't ever think he is sticking it to the fans (see Ray).

Regarding Beridina, I guess those of you who were clamoring for him to be called up in late May are sorry now. No need. He was doing splendid in DOUBLE A folks. He made a big jump. Hopefully, by mid-late August we will have positive results. But for the injuries he would have been left in Harrisburg. Tonight is another game and I am optimistic.

Posted by: Section 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 11, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Remember, patience is a virtue..."

This is true about Bernadina. I think of this as his venti cup of coffee. We're really just giving experience to a guy that we think might be a big leaguer one day so we can see how he holds up, before we send him back down to AA, where he came from. Don't think we wouldn't have been seeing Justin Maxwell up here if he had been available. Also, don't think that Maxwell wouldn't have been in the process of being figured out, a la, Jesus Flores.

The real difference between a big league hitter and a minor league hitter is in how they adjust when they're struggling. Zimmerman can do it, Meat can do it, Flores appears to be learning how to do it. We need to see if Bernadina has that ability as long as we have that chance.

I would have put Ronnie up, nonetheless (in fact, several times, as last night's entry will show). Perhaps they're hiding an injury again? No matter, since I've sworn off caring about wins and losses and there were so many individual good signs last night that I can't be mad.

Oh yeah, and Angel Hernandez is a douche. If we write it enough then it'll start showing up in Google.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 11, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: You rang? | July 11, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Amusing that AK, in his seventh year, is batting .198 (.211 with runners in scoring position, though!) but has had a couple of decent games in the past week, so he's inspirational and the exact kind of guy we want on our team.

Roger Bernadina has had 40 AB's and he's hitting .125, and he's the new whipping boy.

I wonder if things would be different if Roger was the good ol' boy from Kentucky, and AK was a brother from Curacao. Actually, I don't wonder, I know they would.

Posted by: natty by nature | July 11, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: See also | July 11, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Whatever. There were plenty of folks hatin' on Austin here last year...

Posted by: nutty by nature | July 11, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"Whatever. There were plenty of folks hatin' on Austin here last year...

"Posted by: nutty by nature | July 11, 2008 9:25 AM "

Go for last month. Those of us praising AK right now are the ones who have always stood up for him. And you'll note how many of those same people are defending Bernadina.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 11, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Of course there is some Austin hating. This is now a 2-year slump for Nats fans. And that isnt the worst part, the worst part is that Jim and Manny continue to insist that he is a big league starter. Those of us that pay to see games understand that he is a AAAA player at best.

Posted by: Angry in Alexandria | July 11, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Kearns batTED (past tense) under .198 before his surgery. It's no secret and there was plenty of hate to go around about it.

Since he came back from surgery, (WHICH, by the way, was a pretty quick recovery, considering) he's batted .260. Not overpowering (yet!) but definitely not .198.

(you hush, 506, before I out you on your own AK mancrush)

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Even Mario Mendoza hit over the Mendoza line, what is Austin's excuse for .198?

Posted by: Chuck Tanner | July 11, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Gee, I hope that O's Exec is okay. Haven't heard from him lately. Don't suppose the fact that the O's are in last place, under .500, and on a five-game losing streak has anything to do with it...

Posted by: Nats Exec | July 11, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

nutty bn: There were plenty of folks hatin' on Austin last week. And there will be next week too. He's a huge disappointment this year. I don't hate Bernadina. Far from it. I just don't think he should be left up there with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth and the game tied. He was already 0-3, had shown nothing just an inning before, and Ronnie Belliard (another brother by the way) was on the bench just waiting to give us another walk off clutch hit. Is there anyone on this board who thinks that giving the young kids a chance includes leaving them in late in games we have a chance to win with a veteran clutch pinch hitter available? I sure hope that's not what Bowden has in mind with his new youth program.

Bernadina also fouled off what looked like all four right before he grounded out by the way....

Posted by: Section 222 | July 11, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Andrew, you did a GREAT job!

Posted by: brothbart | July 11, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

RE natty by nature:

I think that's what Boswell means when he writes that people in DC are still getting to know the game. They're learning about as fast as Bernadina, it seems.

Posted by: Suicide Squeeze | July 11, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Acta MISMANAGED the bottom of the ninth. We had tied the game 2-2, we had first and second no one out with Dmitri Young at the plate. Certain bunting situation, but NO. Acta lets Young swing away and he flies to left failing to advance the runners, taking a game winning sac fly possiblity away from Flores.

Acta should be called out for mismanaging that potential game winning opportunity.

Posted by: At the game | July 11, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

That's not a "certain bunting situation."
With the winning run already in scoring position (set aside Tolman coaching third, for now), with Young, Flores, and a PH coming up, why give away an AB when a hit by any one of them wins it?
Even assuming a successful sac bunt (which is not a given), that puts all the pressure on Flores with one out.

Posted by: CE | July 12, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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