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Little Problems, A Big Ugly Record

So it's official. The Nats will be coming home still looking for their first win. They lost today, 8-5. They're 0-6. They're not getting embarrassed right now; this isn't the avert-your-eyes blowout baseball from the early part of the Florida series. Rather, the Nationals are botching all the little things -- and my gamer for tomorrow will zoom in on a few of them. Austin Kearns lost a ball in the sun that cost the Nationals a run. Scott Olsen allowed all five of his runs to score with two outs. Catcher Josh Bard had two passed balls. The offense couldn't manufacture enough runs, despite getting five walks from Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens. Etc., etc.

One take on the matter from Adam Dunn:

"What is agonizing is, we have opportunities to blow the game open," Dunn said. "I can think of three, four games that we've had the opportunity to blow the game open. Early. And we just can't get the big hit or something like that. The good news is, I know stuff like that changes. We're out there and everybody is playing hard, which is obviously a plus. I can safely say that nobody is not playing hard, because they are. The effort is there."

Willie Harris's thoughts:

"A couple little things every game," he said. "Small things, man. I think we're going to be fine. I don't want to say we've only played six games and we're gonna be okay; we have to turn it around at some point. So, hopefully we can turn it around on Game No. 7 against the Phillies. Opening Day at home would be a good time to start a winning streak. But you know, we can all go and say, 'Oh, we've only played six games.' After a while we'll be at 15 games where we'll say, 'Oh, we only played 15 games.' At some point we've got to turn it around ourselves."

Now, a few more post-game notes...

*

The first second baseman strained his hamstring. The next second baseman injured his back. And today, during a third-inning at bat, the third-string second baseman, Willie Harris, strained his oblique muscle, severely testing Washington's depth. Harris could wind up on the disabled list, allowing the team to recall another middle infielder. For the moment, though, Washington has Alberto Gonzalez as its lone remaining second base option.

If Washington sends Harris to the disabled list, it could trigger an early return for would-be starter Anderson Hernandez, currently in the first day of a rehab assignment with Class AAA Syracuse. Because of his hamstring strain, Hernandez hasn't played since March 25. But Harris's injury -- and Belliard's slow recovery from his back problems -- might force the team to rush Hernandez back and use him in spot situations until he's 100 percent.

Harris injured himself during the first at bat of today's game. While fouling off a pitch, he felt a "little sharp pain," he said, in his oblique area. Next pitch, he singled to center, but felt another shot of pain. He then left the game for a pinch-runner.

"It was kind of like a little grab," Harris said. "It was uncomfortable, and it caught me off guard."

Added Acta: "We'll re-evaluate him tomorrow. It's usually a tough injury -- the oblique there. It's a nagging thing."

*

Scott Olsen's line today: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

To start, he looked quite sharp. Unlike the first start earlier this week, Olsen was making guys swing and miss. He retired the side on nine pitches in the second; Matt Diaz went down swinging on three strikes. He retired the side on seven more pitches in the third. His velocity with the fastball was hitting 90 or 91, an improvement from last time.

"I really liked the way he threw the ball today," Acta said. "I told him -- five runs, yes. But he threw harder. Those first three innings were lights out, and that is what we want to see out of him. He got in trouble both innings (the fourth and fifth) with walks; that two-out walk ended up costing him three runs in that inning, and then in the next inning another walk ended up scoring. But other than that, I'm very encouraged the way he threw the ball."

Olsen had a simple take on his start: "Great, and then bad."

By Chico Harlan  |  April 12, 2009; 5:58 PM ET
 
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Next: Baseball Is Back At Nats Park

Comments

For the first time since the team took root in Washington, I have a very "take 'em or leave 'em" attitude towards the Nationals.

Something has to change. I have always supported Manny Acta, but is his calm demeanor rubbing off on his charges?

I don't see any fire in the players. Though I never liked seeing Bobby Cox getting thrown out of games when I was a Braves' fan, at least the Braves seemed interested in the game.

I'm sure the Nationals are too, though they look more like sleep-walkers than Rose-esque Charlie Hustlers.

Tell me I'm wrong, please. I want to be.

Posted by: rushfari | April 12, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

No the two out walk cost Olsen because the slow footed catcher(Brian McCann)was allowed to take a big lead off first and steal second damn near unabated, actually if the catcher and the first baseman had a clue then McCann should have been picked off with that lead,Kearns should have never lost the ball in the sun,this team is so aggravating was anyone paying attention during sping training and we leave more men stranded then the hookers on K st.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 12, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The starting pitching hasn't been good enough in each game. They can't hit with runners in scoring position. Everytime they try to get back into the game the bullpen is giving up 1 run here, 2 runs there. There's your summary of the first 6 games. Also they don't have any luck. The Kearns hit from yesterday in the 9th inning and the Dukes hit today with Schafer making great catch. :/

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

rushfari: I don't think it has anything to do with Manny's cool demeanor. It also doesn't have anything to do with the effort, the effort and the hustle is there, they just aren't a very good baseball team.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

rushfari: I don't think it has anything to do with Manny's cool demeanor. It also doesn't have anything to do with the effort, the effort and the hustle is there, they just aren't a very good baseball team.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

---------------------------------------------

Truth hurts. The truth really really hurts.

I have to believe Gonzalez is safe from being cut as he is the only back up at SS right now.

I just wish I saw a genuinely exciting prospect anywhere in this team. Rizzo may want t0 build for the future but until we can clean the Bowden stench from this team we are only going to have uninspired fans watching ordinary players playing for a trade, or killing time in their careers. Woohoo.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 12, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

soundbloke: Yes, the truth does hurt. But there's no way around it, they just aren't very good. I'm sick of having a team that can't be competitive. I want to go to Nationals Park and feel like they have a chance of winning. These first 6 games have been a pain to watch. I'm sick of less than mediocre baseball.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Rachel

You have every right to be angry, and your evaluation of the team is completely accurate. Believe me, I wasn't arguing.

I don't get down to DC much but, I'll still be there though.

It's always darkest right before you realize you've been buried alive.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 12, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

My daughter is only 36 hours old and she has already experienced TWO Nats losses (by radio). At least she doesn't cry when Charlie and Dave are talking. Maybe she knows there is no crying in baseball.

Honestly, this team could be 4-2. Yes, that includes a bunch of IFs and might-have-beens. It is disappointing to get off to such a slow start, but all is not lost.

The only thing that still has me confused is why we let Shawn Hill go. I hope he wins the Cy Young this year. Or at least 20 games, including one against us.

Posted by: kevinx | April 12, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Umm...I will NOT be hoping for this in any way.

----------------------------------

The only thing that still has me confused is why we let Shawn Hill go. I hope he wins the Cy Young this year. Or at least 20 games, including one against us.

Posted by: kevinx | April 12, 2009 7:04 PM

Posted by: AlexL925 | April 12, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

We will most likely lose at least one more game this year, although I am holding out hope for the 156-6 record as much as anybody.

But if we do lose one more, I would prefer that loss to be against Hill rather than any other pitcher.

Posted by: kevinx | April 12, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible to win the Cy Young (should be the Walter Johnson) award from the DL?

Posted by: BoteMan | April 12, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Look, it's fine to wish the guy well. Why would you want him to beat us though? What are you hoping to have proved? Wouldn't it be better for us if Rizzo's instincts as a GM turned out correct?

----------------------------------------

We will most likely lose at least one more game this year, although I am holding out hope for the 156-6 record as much as anybody.

But if we do lose one more, I would prefer that loss to be against Hill rather than any other pitcher.

Posted by: kevinx | April 12, 2009 7:26 PM

Posted by: AlexL925 | April 12, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

So, when is it that we get major league baseball back in Washington?

Posted by: MartinZook | April 12, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

You're not excited about Dukes? As long as he's stays healthy, he can really be electric. Zimmermann also has the potential to wow on Wednesday.

If you mean prospect in the strictest sense, though, probably best keep your eyes on Strasburg.

-----
I just wish I saw a genuinely exciting prospect anywhere in this team. Rizzo may want t0 build for the future but until we can clean the Bowden stench from this team we are only going to have uninspired fans watching ordinary players playing for a trade, or killing time in their careers. Woohoo.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 12, 2009 6:44 PM

Posted by: tmp2234 | April 12, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

BORING is all I can say when I tune in this team, I really want to like them but they just do not seem to have the energy, and Manny , well I will give you another month until it is the end, sorry Manny something has to change..and maybe you coud manage the Hagerstown Suns.(.A fiiliate of Nats). ANd with the Os at least you feel they have a chance in each game, wish i could say the same for Nationals, with a win it is more of a surprise, but it is still nice DC has a team, maybe I will get to see them this year...ticket availability should not be a problem:)FJN

Posted by: fjnlcpc | April 12, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Remembering 1988: "In-a-gadda-da-vida, honey..."

Posted by: Hendo1 | April 12, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I hope Shawn Hill has a terrific year/career, but I hope he loses every time he goes up against the Nationals.

I am somehow remaining optimistic. 0-6 isn't the worst thing ever. They can be a .500 team, which would be a huge success after last year.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 12, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

The manager can make a difference in 2005 Frank Robinson took a rag tag bunch of misfits and had them playing .600 baseball by the all-star break So don't give me that bull krap,Acta is a joke plain and to the point he's too laid back and we're headed for one hundred plus loses again which i'm sure is A OK by Manny.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 12, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't know exactly why, but I'm rooting for Hill also. Partly of course because he seemed to be a good guy, honest with the media and with the Nats about his physical condition (are you listening, WMP?), and a really hard worker. And I guess the other part of why I'm rooting for him is irrational: to remind the Nats' front office of and to punish it for its dysfunctional performance. Yes, I know we can blame most of it on Bowden and we should be moving on, but there's still a lot of venting that needs to be done, at least on my part. Maybe dunking tanks could be set up before the game tomorrow?

On AG, I'm looking forward to seeing him at 2B. At the least, we should see some fine glove work (hope I haven't jinxed him).

Posted by: CapPeterson | April 12, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, tomorrow could be ugly at the Park.

On the bright side, the sun should be out at first pitch. And remember, this team started out hot last season then went into a 5 month tail slide. Nothing is determined in week one.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 12, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

tmp2234
As soon as I posted that I thought I was being unfair on Dukes.

I don't think I'm being hard on Zimmerman. I frankly think we have see from him all we ever will. An athletic, if slightly erratic, third baseman, who hits 275, doesn't walk much and hits 14-18 home runs. Nothing to be sniffed at but I put him in the 'I really hope he comes good', rather than 'I'm excited about'. Same pile I put Bonafacio, Hernandez, Hill, Ballister and Milledge. At least he'll always be useful.

But yes, I acknowledge being called out there.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 12, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if Obama's throwing out the first pitch tomorrow? I'm trying to gauge what time to get down there.

Posted by: natslifer | April 12, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

The manager can make a difference in 2005 Frank Robinson took a rag tag bunch of misfits and had them playing .600 baseball by the all-star break So don't give me that bull krap,Acta is a joke plain and to the point he's too laid back and we're headed for one hundred plus loses again which i'm sure is A OK by Manny.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 12, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

---------------------------------------------

Abusing the sample size there my friend. We finished last that year and our second half of the season was uglier than just about anything we seen in DC. And there wasn't a damn thing Robinson managed to do about it.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 12, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Well this season, I'm looking foward to finding out what Mike Rizzo is made of. Take a page out of the standard GM playbook and trade anybody and everybody for whatever prospects you can get. I don't care what grade level they are, if they have the slightest chance for success, I want them.

We all know Rizzo can draft, I want to see how he can deal. Lets clean up this one-demensional roster a little bit.

Posted by: von_bluff | April 12, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

CHILL OUT, PEOPLE!! It's a long season. Give 'em a few weeks, then we'll panic if we need to.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | April 12, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

@soundbloke Good to know about Dukes. And I have to agree with you about Ryan--there ain't more there. But I was talking about ZimmermanN and his scheduled start this week. I'm still kind of excited about that.

@natslifer WH has announced that Obama won't be there. Some still speculating that it's a feint and he'll do a surprise visit. I think not, unfortunately--guy's a sports fan and he didn't throw for the Sox, so I don't think he'll show them up by doing the honors here. I hate the decision.

Posted by: tmp2234 | April 12, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not panicking. The Nationals are no longer an awful team. They are now, at least on paper, mediocre and so far playing in some hard luck. It may be too early to say, but they ought to win 5 to 10 games more this year than last, barring injuries.

I agree with other bloggers on this point:
The main problem, aside of course from a pretty bad pitching rotation, is that they are BORING! And that is unforgivable. I don't mind a team that loses a lot.

First, they are one of the only MLB teams without a stolen base. Second, they look and feel 'flat,' except for Guzman. Is it Manny? He may well be a nice man, God bless him, but have you ever listened to him? One of the most BORING men I've ever endured!

They need someone who is exciting and energetic and fun to watch, like Soriano. Or a new manager.

Posted by: JLNash819 | April 12, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

CHILL OUT, PEOPLE!! It's a long season. Give 'em a few weeks, then we'll panic if we need to.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | April 12, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

He is right, we are actually 3 home games away from a total meltdown.

The problem with the 0-6 start is I now know what the future holds. A 60-70 win season. Looks like we will score more runs than last season, but it also looks like we might let up a ton more.

Ryan Zimmerman is not a franchise player. A good player, but not a franchise player. We need pitching bad, even with some better pitching we would at best be a .500 team.

We came in to the season with 5 guys in our rotation that are borderline #5 starters on most teams in the league. I am not sure who is better, or who is worse, they all just look bad.

So have fun this season Nats. I'll enjoy watching you play .500 ball at home and watching losing streaks of 6 or more games at various points in the season. But to Nats fans should give it up their interest in this team, because the pain is not worth it.

Posted by: dominic10464 | April 12, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

A new manager is not going to make this team more exciting to watch. Only winning can do that.

Posted by: WMPete | April 12, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Youth would make it more exciting too. However right now Manny has nothing. It's not as if there is a magical lineup that is going to win stuff.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 12, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The Nats will win game #7 of the season. So it shall be done. I, for one, am happy that B.O. will not be throwing out the first ball.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 12, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with WMPete. Of course, everyone loves a winner. But if you are a fan of the game, instead of the vulgarity of being a fair-weather, win-or-else fan of a team, you can also enjoy a team that plays well, keeps the games close, has some exciting players - even if it loses more often than it wins.

A team could do this with good pitching, speed, good defense, a few exciting players.

Here's the test: what's more entertaining: a well-played nail-biting loss by the home team or a boring 10 to 0 blowout victory? I'll take the former any day, and so, I believe, would any true baseball fan. Remember the Nats are a corporation. But good baseball is....beyond words!

Posted by: JLNash819 | April 12, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why anyone is suprised here with 0-6....we ARE still talking about the reconstituted MONTREAL EXPOS here, a team that won but one playoff series in its history....and that was in a strike shortened season. 54-108 looks easily achievable.

Posted by: JCinDC | April 13, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

I heard a rumor that the club has Rick Wagoner lined up as Obama's backup to throw out the first pitch today.

Posted by: estuartj | April 13, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

A NOTE TO SOUNDBLOKE: We finished 81-81 that year last or not it was still .500 baseball are you overlooking the fact that the team had no ownership a farm system with little or no talent and operating on a shoestring budget and actually the baseball was hardly ugly compared to what we are seeing now,Frank had them playing fundamentally sound baseball, what i've witnessed so far hardly qualifies for anything fundamental.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 13, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I liked the gamer but referring to blowouts from "earlier in the season" struck me as funny when we're barely a week into it. :-D

---

Those blowouts from earlier in the season have been replaced by games like Sunday's -- an 8-5 decision against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, where diagnosing the cause requires a heavy zoom lens

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 13, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

This is about chico and the new computer format of the Washington Nationals. Some how it has cut into chico's style of descriptive writing. It is like i am reading off a blackboard in school, facts but no feelings. Don't continue in this style of change or you will lose me as a reader.

Posted by: bsballu5 | April 13, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I am encouraged by the hitting. The 2009 Nationals are not the 1927 Yankees but they have showed they can score some runs.

The pitching is another matter. These guys couldn't hold a pretty girl's hand, much less keep runners off base or maintain a lead.

Good pitching beats good hitting. Good hitting falls short when the pitching is mediocre.

Posted by: jbartelloni | April 13, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Lannan and Olsen are the #3 and #4 starters on a solid rotation that is competing for the postseason.

Here they are the staff aces. You don't acquire a guy with an 8-11 record and 4.20 ERA and think he is going to be the one to lead your staff.

Olsen like the others in fact is in NEED of a staff leader to model himself after and work to improve while watching his starts.

There is no reason given their low payroll even with Dunn that the Nationals should not have acquired a capable veteran, and by that I mean a player that is NOT 33 years old and coming off a season where he was either on the DL all year or worked to an ERA over 5.00.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 13, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, this article lets me know the Nats have thoughts.....and can think a good game. It ends there.

Posted by: Pete433 | April 13, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

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