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An encounter with the wall

If any Nationals player has performed well enough this season to earn an exemption from criticism, it's Jesus Flores. In May, the 23-year-old came up from Class AAA Columbus, filled a void created by injuries and merely went about proving himself as the catcher of the future here. So let it be noted, I'm only bringing this up because now, even Flores is starting to wonder what's wrong. He's in a dreadful slump, and he feels it.

Flores (batting seventh today) enters this game on an 0-for-19 skid. (He knows those numbers, too.) In August, he's batted .179 with a .198 on-base percentage. He's walked twice. He's struck out 23 times. Last night, he was the only position player who didn't reach base.

And frankly, yes, he's a little worried.

"I want to be good," Flores said. "That's why I worry when I'm not hitting like I should."

When Flores earned the regular catching job this season, he made two offensive goals for himself. He wanted 50+ RBIs. (And he's already accomplished that.) He also wanted to finish with an average of .270 or higher.

His average stayed above .270 until last week. But now, it's down to .254.

Manny Acta said Flores's backsliding has coincided with an adjustment pitchers have made against him. After watching enough video, pitchers noticed that Flores was susceptible to high fastballs, just out of the strike zone. Now, Flores is seeing that exact pitch in heavy quantity. And he's biting. Too often.

There's some thought out there that Flores is simply hitting a wall, which is possible. Flores didn't say verbatim that he felt tired (in fact, he said he wasn't tired), but he did speak about a few telltales: Sometimes, he needs longer than he'd expect to recover after a catching few consecutive games. Sometimes, his bat feels heavy. Bottom line: Flores has to grind out the last month. As Acta said, Flores won't get much of a break, because the Nats aren't developing people to "play 110 games."

The good news? Last time Flores started against Jo-Jo Reyes, tonight's Atlanta pitcher, he finished the game 5-for-6.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 30, 2008; 7:07 PM ET
 
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Next: They go for six in a row

Comments

It appears that JB is throwing BP to the Braves. Doubles practice I guess.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

The win streak in serious jeopardy as Bergie gets pounded for 4 runs in the 3rd. Guh.

Posted by: It's a tragedy for me to see... the dream is over! | August 30, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

We are ALWAYS welcome

Posted by: Milli Vanilli References | August 30, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

On the Federal Baseball game thread, Doghouse said, "Bergmann tends to fall apart when he gets a bad call like that... ".

What bad call? It apparently happened right before the doubles barrage...

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

What slump?

Posted by: Jesus | August 30, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

And Flores responds w/ a 3 run double!!!

Posted by: Offense/offensive | August 30, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Come on, Jesus, time to break out of the slump on your very own game thread.....

Ball one, low and away...

Oh yeah, that'll do. Three run double

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Man, picking up these useless, slap-hitting middle infielders was really a mistake...... Fire Jimbo!11!!

...snicker...

AB R H RBI
A. Hernandez 4 0 3 3 .480

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

cough***sample size***cough

Posted by: Not to rain on the parade or anything, but... | August 30, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Deep.... enlightening....

Your post did remind me my dog has a vet appointment. Thanks...

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

cat daddy - bringing his career average to .212! At least he gives us something we did not have (an Ayala-less lineup).

Posted by: ptbnl | August 30, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are scoring, and maybe this is the 13 game win streak every team has that Boswell promised, knock, knock, knock o my wooden head. Chico just needs to write about a problem to cure it. A scout says the bullpen is the problem - they shut down the Dodgers. Jesus is in a slump - doublesw in 3 runs. We are tied, time for that virile, organic cheer LET'S GO NATS!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Knock Guz in from 2d, Blastings! The new Nats keep the pressure on, don't they? And that play at the plate, God Bless Tim McClelland, Home Plate Umpire, for getting it right! Pop up, hold em, 'pen!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Fly out, schmy out. Anyone think LMillz could go 20/20 this year? 13 HR, 19 SB, with 6 HR in the past month.

Posted by: ptbnl | August 30, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

ptbnl, all that bad stuff was when he was a Met..... "Change of scenery"tm

And flynnie, you're right. I blame Harlan and his Magic Words.

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I smell a walk-off.

Belliard
Dukes
Flores

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Come what may, it is good to be in such fine company, cat daddy, PTBNL, SC NatsFan and all ye who lurk. What an exciting game! Tied up bottom of the 9th!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I believe, cat daddy, I believe!
Just following on ESPN.com's scoreboard. Belli, I've been talking you up. Deliver.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 30, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

oops

Posted by: PTBNl | August 30, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Free baseball!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

PH for Hanrahan?

What is Acta thinking? We're at the top of our order, Atlanta is at the bottom of theirs. We could win in the 10th, but without our lights-out closer, I dunno....

Oh, yeah, Harris ground out to catcher.

Posted by: Desert Nat | August 30, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I believed too, PTBNL. I was hoping for my guy Belliard, but I really wanted it to be Flores. At least the "L" didn't blow it.....

Extras! Positive vibes, flynnie, positive vibes. Think 5...

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I was all ready to say Walkoff Willie, too. :(

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Zimmerman roaming around everywhere but 3rd = Jeb Stewart roaming around everywhere but Gettysburg.

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

cat daddy, re. the earlier call you'd asked about, Bergmann thought he had strike three just before the barrage began.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

That was close. Breathing out now.

How about Bergmann's first sac bunt earlier? The batting cage work must have paid off. All right, Jason!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Shell of Ice!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Lets make the Bravos walk off, 1a!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Walk off it is, Flynnie!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Lead off walk....I smell a run

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Another example of the New Nats - pressure on Nunez, who's bothered by the speed-burner Hernandez on 1st.

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Been running on Mcann alnight long...don't stop now

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Off to a good start. Go to virtual rally caps mode.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

sniff, sniff....can ya smell it

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

: > ))

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

All right! Come on, Zimm!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Let's go Guzzie!

Posted by: Offense/offensive | August 30, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

It is soooo great having all the gametime posters back.

God I Love a Win Streak!

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

IBB. Okay, come on, Lastings!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

It's time for a little taste of Blastings Thrilledge

Posted by: PJ | August 30, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Don't you usually wait till you have 1 out before you walk the bases loaded to set up the double play to end the inning?

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

He may be a little amped.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Come on, Belli!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I mean, Dukes... ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what Elijah means?

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Not sure.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

BINGO....GAME OOOOVVVVEEEERRRR...wtg good eye EEEEli

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Walk off the field, Bravos, the game is over and the Nats have won! Duuuuukes! Strictly a man! And Tim Tolman is a very lucky man - we should've won the game on Belli's fly.

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

That really was a walkoff, flynnie. Woo hoo!! The streak continues...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

A walk-off walk! I'll take it

Posted by: Offense/offensive | August 30, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

YES!

Posted by: Ptbnl | August 30, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

You know things are going well when your top power hitter takes a 8 pitch at bat to draw a walk off walk...

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

5 in a row!

Posted by: Pablo | August 30, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

phew... 5 STRAIGHT!

Posted by: natsinthevalley | August 30, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Bravos and Mets both lose to walk off walks tonight....couldn't happen to a better duo, less you could have had a trio with the sillies

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Bang Zoom in your grillhole, Bravos! (who coined this one?) and, to quote the great dk nats fan after the 5-3 win aqainst the Mets: "OMG, I'm still shaking!"

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

That was not the way I expected it. Unreal.

A professional AB from Mr. Dukes. Wow...

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

He can be a patient hitter.

Another series win, maybe another sw**p...

Dare we hope, maybe, eventually, leapfrogging the tomahawk choppers?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

To answer my own question...

According to the Books of Kings, Elijah raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and ascended into heaven on a Chariot.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I believe Elijah means "My G-d is G-d." That was fun. Pretty great plate discipline for ED.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 30, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Credit nattaboy for the grillhole line, flynnie (and Google).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Player of the game is ...?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

And on to sunday and make it a six pack. Greedy aint we...tee hee hee

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Hernandez, perhaps? (3 hits, 3 rbi, and a walk)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Elijah has been variously translated as "Yah is God,” "YHWH is my El", "whose God is Yah,” "the strong Yah,” "God of Yah,” "Yah is my God,” "my God is Yah,” "My God is Jehovah", and according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible "God of Jehovah".

I was going for who was Elijah of course, based on the quote above, but thanks PTBNL.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

flynnie wait.... Was Belliard's lineout really enough to score Hernanadez? I couldn't believe AH wouldn't be sent on any ball to the OF.
If so, Tolman should be made to do the laundry...

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Bravos post game show announcing duo is complaining about how Dukes celebrated his walk and apparently was staring or glaring at Nunez...awwwwww.....GET OVER IT.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

awww, I thought that you wanted the meaning of the name.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

When Shell turned to Zimmerman to hang up the runner between 1st and 3rd, to find Zimm not at 3rd, he just turned, threw the ball to 1st for the out, and went back to work. I like the amnesia, I like the nerves of steel, holding that lineup scoreless with runners on 1st and 3rd.

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

i need a drink after that game...

i am starting to think we might not lose 100 games now, and that is great.

Congrats to flores for getting that huge 3-run double. Lets hope that starts him out of this slump (along with the shaving of the goatee).

Nieves will be your starter tomorrow, as will Harris and Boni.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | August 30, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm Charlie and Daveing it here.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

12 of 26 for that NiV (not that I'm keeping track or anything...).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Now....if only Teddy could have a win...nah.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

1A, you missed an absolutely hilarious post-game on MASN - Sutton in a long brown wig, Carpy in a tie-dye dashiki, (both with colored glasses) Debbi in a blue satin with a long blonde wig saying "Groovy!" to Anderson Hernandez-classic!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

One more bible reference for fun;

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse."

— Malachi 4:5-6

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

That does sound hilarious, flynnie. Charlie and Dave said that Clint was in a green leisure suit as well. Far out, man! I'm trippin'.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Definitely let Teddy win, SC. :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Charlie and Dave picked Hernandez for player, Dukes' walkoff walk for play.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I may have to celebrate this win 70's style.....if you know what I mean...

Posted by: Pablo | August 30, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Only thing funnier would have been if Charlie and Dave were made up like Cheech and Chong with a smoke machine in the booth...can you dig it.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Good night, all.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Chevrolet Player of the Game

Anderson Hernandez,.462, 3-5, 3 RBIs
1 Big Walk, 1 Big Run Scored

Posted by: cat daddy | August 30, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

A Very Good Night to you, 1A! Back from 6-2 to win! Truly a thrilling victory, 10 riveting, dramatic innings and I feel sorry for anyone who gave up on this team, or who thinks that only playoff contenders are in meaningful games.

Let's win 26!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

OK, back from section 320, literally and figuratively.
Some random observations: I wanted Tolman to send the runner on Belliard's fly ball to center, but he'd have been out by ten feet, easy, absent an error. The throw was a bullet.
Jesus Flores--man, how clutch IS this guy?? Worth the money to watch him play. And Bergman, though he couldn't find the plate with GoogleEarth, did get down one good bunt, and just missed hitting a gapper off the wall that Jones ran down in center.
And Dukes "showing up" anybody with a walk-off walk?? STFU. If that's what you think "glaring" looks like, you need to get off the block once in a while.

And as someone who was there the first time through, the whole 70s thing (which they kept mixing up with the 60s, but in a cartoonishly pomo sort of mishmash) was just weird, but they played some good music. Man, I just NEVER get tired of hearing Al Green scream!

Posted by: CE | August 31, 2008 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and props to Chipper. That old dog may still be the second-best third baseman in the division.

Posted by: CE | August 31, 2008 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Cool CE, glad you got to see it. Thanks for the clarification on Belliard's liner. I was puzzled as I thought AH was fast (and wondered if they should have PR Emilio).

Did you go in style yourself? You know where I live, the 70's were more like the 60's than the 60's were.....

Btw, Casto and Alberto are expected to be recalled on the 1st.

Posted by: cat daddy | August 31, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Nats batters with 150+ ABs for the team, and their OPS. Other than Kearns and WMP, I don't see that we have THAT bad of a team, hitting wise. To whit, Guzman, whom people have derided as a light hitting middle infielder, has pretty good numbers for a SS. Dropped off of this list is Bonafacio, who misses the cutoff by 30 ABs (.885) and the incredible A. Hernandez and A. Gonzalez (1.405 and 1.687 respectively) I know, I know, sample size...

Name POS AB OPS
W Pena OF 195 0.715
A Kearns OF 313 0.844
J Flores C 296 0.947
A Boone 1B 181 0.959
L Milledge OF 431 0.996
R Zimmerman 3B 331 1.023
W Harris OF 296 1.028
C Guzman SS 499 1.061
D Young 1B 150 1.074
R Belliard 3B 284 1.111
E Dukes OF 197 1.121

Posted by: SF Fan | August 31, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

SF Fan, not sure what you calculated, but those are not the correct OPS #s for the Nats. Sure would be sweet if they were...

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | August 31, 2008 2:07 AM | Report abuse

Holy crap, we have a bunch of A-Rods and Pujols on our team! Who knew?

Posted by: PJ | August 31, 2008 3:00 AM | Report abuse

Last night's was an AWESOME game.

And Chico, where's the love for Bergmann's hitting? He actually made contact, sending that thing to deep, right-center field. I didn't even realize it was him until my friend Amy noticed it. Then his first successful sacrifice bunt all year!!!

You should have seen the smiles and high fives in the dugout after he bunted. I was so happy and proud. That was just as good as anything else in that happened in the game.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 31, 2008 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I only caught the game from the eighth inning on but it was a perfect time to enter the drama of the game. I saw Duke's two late game at bats, the first was the double that was just ripped down the third base line. His hitting is the hardest of any player that we have. The second at bat was beautiful. He learned from Milledge's at bat that the pitcher was throwning low breaking pitches that turned out to be balls but sure looked hittable.
At the beginning of the season he would have gone down on swinging strikes. Not this time! You could tell the Atlanta pitcher was mentally willing Milledge and Belliard into bad swings, he was tough. Dukes, however, seemed to have his own intensity that matched and even beat the pitcher. It was riveting. Those two fouled off pitches and ball four were episodes in an amazing at bat.

Posted by: Dale | August 31, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Those who, like me, missed the stunning outfits described by Flynnie can see them in the Hernandez interview clip via the link below. There's also a clip from Manny's postgame conference and a clip with comments from Elijah "A Walk is as Good as a Hit" Dukes. Go Nats!

masnsports.com/2008/08/nats-look-for-seasonhigh-5th-s.html

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Who, by the way, are the hottest team in baseball at present (longest winning streak).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I wanted Tolman to send the runner on Belliard's fly ball to center, but he'd have been out by ten feet, easy, absent an error. The throw was a bullet.
Posted by: CE | August 31, 2008 12:31 A.M.

Sorry Coach Tolman! I was dog cussin' you for not sending Hernandez, who confirmed to Debbi Taylor that there's no way he would have made it to home safely, especially since he couldn't run on contact without making sure the ball was going to drop. Such was my fear of that Braves pitcher Nunez' slider that I was hoping that Manny would call a suicide squeeze when Belli was at the plate.

Posted by: flynnie | August 31, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Look at me!

Posted by: new post | August 31, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' 1a! What a beautiful summer morning in September! This team will leave us yearning for Feb. 22d! When I think of all that crap from CBS sports about how they've given up and are mailing it in, well, the Nats garden is well-fertilized for next Spring, and I like a lineup with Guzman,Flores/Nieves, Dukes (who should play winter ball to stay busy and out of trouble), Willie Harris, Belli, Lastings, Zimm, Langerhans (never thought I'd say it) Hernandez, Boni/Gonzalez (more winter ball, which they'll play anyhow because you can't stop them) + Nick +the Meat Hook+a new, improved WillyMo - feeling fine this morning!

Posted by: flynnie | August 31, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Top o' the mornin' to you, Flynnie! I like the garden metaphor.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

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