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Six Hours Later, Another Loss

The Nationals' ability to rebound will be severely tested by this one. Tonight's game ended at 1:25 a.m., with a 6-5, 10-inning loss. Joe Beimel, pitching to Atlanta's Kelly Johnson with a runner on second, allowed a liner to right. Jordan Shafer came charging in from second and scored. Turner Field's crowd -- or whatever was left of it -- went wild.
Almost six hours had passed since the night's first pitch.

"They were tired too," Adam Dunn said. "This is one of those games you have one or two of a year. Tonight was one of those miserable games where if it ended on a positive note, it would have been worth it. But it didn't."

Some final notes here (and once the ol' batteries recharge, I'll have better/clearer/smarter thoughts to post tomorrow):

* Elijah Dukes has a tender groin, an injury he sustained on the game's final play while trying to throw home.

* Washington left 16 men on base.

* The Nats' bullpen allowed three earned runs in 6-1/3 innings. Not bad. Patchwork, I'd call it. Who pitched? Everybody but Joel Hanrahan: Ledezma, Tavarez, Shell, Hinckley, Rivera, Beimel.Si

By Chico Harlan  |  April 11, 2009; 2:00 AM ET
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Next: Losing By Narrow Margins


Carryover question here:

How fast is Dukes really? Everytime something's written about him it seems to focus on his speed/power combo. We all know that he's a great all-around athlete, but I have trouble viewing him as a guy with plus speed and it's certainly not elite. Maybe it's just his size that does it. What do you think? If you had to compare him to another MLB player, who might it be?

Posted by: AlexL925 | April 11, 2009 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and "tender groin" sounds disgusting and terrible.

Posted by: AlexL925 | April 11, 2009 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Shawn Hill is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA for the Padres. What is the ERA of the Nats starting pitchers?

Posted by: WJStephens | April 11, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse


Top Pitcher
Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State

A preposterous amount of hype accompanied Strasburg into 2009, and if anything the hoopla has magnified as the season has progressed. But through it all, Strasburg has not been distracted and has managed to exceed even the most stratospheric expectations. Through eight starts, the junior righthander is 7-0, 1.49 with a 107-11 strikeout-walk ratio in 54 innings. Opponents are hitting just .177 against him, and he is on pace to break Ryan Wagner's Division I record of 16.8 strikeouts per nine innings, set in 2003. Strasburg is averaging 17.7 strikeouts per nine.

On top of that, Strasburg is a lock to be selected No. 1 overall in the draft in June, provided the Washington Nationals are willing to break draft bonus records to sign him. Strasburg is a rare talent indeed, with a fastball that reaches triple digits and a vicious power breaking ball, not to mention the makings of a quality changeup that he seldom has to use at the college level.

In any other year, Arizona State's Mike Leake and Josh Spence, Kansas State's A.J. Griffin or Missouri's Kyle Gibson would be fine choices for top pitcher honors at the midway point. But not in the Year of Strasburg.

Posted by: AlexL925 | April 11, 2009 4:36 AM | Report abuse

Even though a loss is a loss, the trajectory of the first 4 games is encouraging. We have been beaten by progressively lower margins and the overall team performance in showing signs of improving. As depressing as the 4th straight loss is, there is reason to maintain some optimism.

Congrats to Shawn Hill. Come on people, root for the man! Our cast-off pick-up (Cabrera) looks a lot worse than the Padres dumpster-diving efforts (Hill) right now.

Posted by: nattydread1 | April 11, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the trajectory is encouraging.
14 hits is very very nice to see. The boys will start getting hits with runners in scoring position. Last night just wasn't our night.
I'm optimistic.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 11, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Booting Shawn Hill off the squad will haunt this team. The cost of keeping him for another month to answer questions about his viability was small compared to the upside. It's not like this team is blessed with the starters of the caliber of Olsen and Cabrera.

Worst at bat of the season: Will Nieves in his pinch hit role last night with the bases loaded. What was so frustrating last night was that the Nats struck out in bases loaded situations when all that was needed was contact. Even the Braves were willing to concede a run if the hitter hit into a double play in a first and third with no outs situation. Strike outs killed us last night.

Posted by: driley | April 11, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I am concerned about that comment on Dukes and his "tweaked groin". I would be surprised to see him for the rest of the series . I suspect it will be the DL.

I agree with an earlier poster the Hill decision will haunt us. I think this was Rizzo's decision and it was just plain dumb. This is typical Nats philosophy - penny wise , pound foolish. This is what you get from a losing environment - bad decision after bad decision. I am holding out hope for Olsen but Caberra will prove to be a wasted $2.5mm. God this team does not know how to spend its limited resources. We had Loduca, Mackowiak, etc. The list goes on and on.

I think we need to bring in a reputable baseball man to evaluate the entire operation and hire and fire as he sees fit. I would love to see Benefest come in.

I have nothing against Hill, I wish him the best.

I am keeping my fingers crossed on Dukes.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 11, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Nats get their first point of the season. (Still in hockey mode.)

Posted by: tailwagger | April 11, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I think we will see both a new GM and a new Manager in the Fall.

I agree they will use the Dukes injury to waste more playing time on the likes of Bard.

I agree this team wastes a higher percentage of its total Salary budget than most. A whole new Baseball Operations staff if needed with the new GM.

Also, never trade with the Marlins...they are smarter than anyone when it comes to trades.

Last nights game was slow progress…..Defense was much better….Pitching was better…..Dukes is the best player on the team by far. Milledge looked better at the plate but that was never the issue…..Defense, Base running, Lead off skills those are the issues….he will hit .268 and 15 -20 home runs and run into 15 outs and cost 15 runs with his defense.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 11, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Questions about Hill's release are valid. You have to keep in mind, though, that there were also 40-man roster implications given that we signed Beimel at the same time. Bottom line, if we keep Hill, we lose someone else.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 11, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse mean we would not have Bard or Marco Estrada? Yea that would really hurt!

Posted by: JayBeee | April 11, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I do not buy the 40 man roster implication argument for releasing Hill. We had no problem on the final cut day releasing a slew of players. Hill was released with a couple of weeks left in the spring training season. Worst case scenario would have been a rehab assignment until he had built up arm strength. To claim Biemel=Hill as a tradeoff is not going to work. The overvaluing of Olsen and Cabrera is the culprit here. The "innings eater" argument won't wash either when your starters that are supposed to be the "innings eaters" don't last into fifth inning.

This team has huge problem in self evaluation of its own talent. The list of players who go elsewhere and thrive while they whither here is becoming larger. Some talent laden teams can afford a few mistakes like this but the Nats are dancing on a knife's edge in this regard. It seems increasingly the case that players on the team get labeled by Manny and management and get driven like square pegs into round holes.

Posted by: driley | April 11, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Nieves is oh for twelve as a pinch hitter and has struck out all three times he has appeared in that role this year.The key to last night's game? after the nats had tied the game Guzman came up with the bases loaded and struck out on three pitches and showed absolutely no paitience during his at bat you can't do that.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 11, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hey can someone tell me why we let Emilio Bonifacio go? I thought at the time the Nats traded Jon Rauch for him and they said he was our future 2nd baseman. So why did they let him go? He's lightnin' it up in Florida... I would've certainly like to have him in our lineup, he's getting a lot of infield hits with all that speed.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with driley. Sometimes it seems as if two thirds of the NJ posters could do a better job of managing the team and roster. And its not a Bowden thing any more --- its a Rizzo and Acta problem.

People screamed for Dukes to be put in --- low and behold --- he delivers. What does it take to see that Milledge costs runs in center field? Send down a blazing Bergman so you can have three lefties in the pen? Shawn Hill at his best is 200% better than Cabrera or Olsen if they just "eat innings". Some seriously bad decisions --- and I'm an Acta supporter.

Let's hope that this team (and Manny's command) begins to pull it together before the sniping begins. If the players themselves get as disgruntled as angry NJ posters --- then things will get ugly.

Posted by: nattydread1 | April 11, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Now I understand why the Nats signed Adam Dunn. He's the go-to guy for reporters after dismal losses.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 11, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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