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Cards 6, Nats 2: A Few Post-Game Notes

Not even Plan Z could produce a win tonight, but we can forgive Jordan Zimmermann. He's a rookie, which just about assures that tonight's start -- the first semi-rough outing of his career -- won't be the last rough outing. For that reason, the Nats aren't inclined to judge the 22-year-old by the three home runs he issued in the 6-2 loss to St. Louis. Nor are they included to judge him by the glaring mistakes, especially that 3-1 fastball to Albert Pujols in the first. Rather, they'll watch how Zimmermann responds to those mistakes. How he fights back.

That's why the Nationals, following Zimmermann's 5-2/3-inning, five-run performance, saw further affirmation that the rookie is the real deal.

Said Manny Acta: "I mean, if this is going to be a bad start -- going 5-2/3 innings, and being hurt by real good hitters on mistakes -- we're happy."

Zimmermann learned the hard way that Pujols feasts on pitches that don't hit their targets. In the first inning, with the count 3-1 on Pujols, catcher Jesus Flores called for a pitch out of the strike zone. ("We pretty much wanted to walk him," Acta said.) But Zimmermann missed, throwing a fastball down the middle. Pujols did not miss. That fastball turned into Pujol's ninth homer of the year.

But what did Washington want to watch? How Zimmermann responded. The next pitch, to Chris Duncan, was a 96 mph fastball, a called strike.

"I just went back on the mound and went after the next guy," Zimmermann (2-1) said.

"He's a bulldog," Acta said. "He'll go right after guys, and we like that. I don't think that every time he makes a mistake, with his kind of stuff, it will go out of the ballpark. But it happened today."

OK, so a few other post-game notes...

* One night after getting picked off first base, Elijah Dukes got thrown out at third base on a grounder hit to shortstop. So, another baserunning gaffe. The situation: With nobody on in the fourth, Dukes, who had just reached on a double, watched Jesus Flores bounce one to St. Louis's Tyler Greene. The classic baserunning rule dictates that you don't try for third on a ball hit in front of you. But Dukes took off. He was thrown out, 6-5.

Asked after the game if he would talk to Dukes about his baserunning, Acta said, "We talk to everybody, not only to him. There's plenty of coaching. You guys saw what we have in spring training. You guys know that we have Marquis [Grissom] and Pat [Listach] and Devon [White] here. But you also have to understand, he's young and he's got a lot of potential, but he's not a finished product yet. That's going to happen with young players."

* Zimmerman is a fan of Zimmermann: "It's fun to play behind him," Ryan said. "I think he's special. He gets it. He knows. He's a competitor. He gets out there, he works quick, he throws strikes, and it's a treat to play behind him. I think he's going to be good for a long, long time."

By Chico Harlan  |  May 1, 2009; 10:46 PM ET
 
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Next: This Afternoon's Lineup

Comments

This team is not even competitive on the field.

The ownership is a laughing-stock.

On TV, the stands look half-full on a busy night.

If it were a fight, they would stop it...

Posted by: gdennie | May 1, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

We probably blew our best chance at winning in this series tonight, as our offense should have teed off on the sturggling Wellemeyer tonight. Z-2 only made a couple of bad pitches, but the hitters were all over them. With Piniero and Lohse coming up, it doesn't look good. Also, Lannan is pitching Sunday, so that means we will score no runs in that game.

Stan - if you read this, I tried to spend money at the ballpark tonight. I went to the Taste of the Majors stand on the Gallery level with the intent of ordering a Philly Cheese Steak and parmesan garlic fries. However, they had no cheese and no garlic. The workers were standing behind the counter complaining how they were out of a lot of items. That should not happen. There has to be a supervisor somewhere who should have been notified and corrected the problem. Leaving empty-handed, I then went a nearby portable beer stand, where I saw a Blue Moon tap (my favorite). But, once again, I was shut down as I was told they were out of draft beer and my choices were limited to a couple of domestic bottled beers. That's about $21.50 I tried to spend, Stan, but it seems like your folks really didn't want to take it, so I still have it. Better luck next time (and there might not be a next time unless some drastic changes take place, both on the field and off the field).

Posted by: BGinVA | May 1, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I believe that's just about exactly what Bobby Cox would say if he was Dukes manager. And just like Cox, I think we can be sure that Acta will address the situation. However if this was a competitive team like the Braves, Dukes would be have to be benched or sent down for additional work. Since it is not, the smarter move seems to be to let him learn here in DC.

I looked at the standings to see who might possibly be in the market for an outfielder and thought maybe the Mets, Mariners, Rays, and Braves were among them. But I would guess most teams will wait another month before considering a trade for need.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 1, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Dukes would not get sent down from the Braves. On a good team Dukes two base running mistakes would be an irritant.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 1, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

The fact that the Nationals have the worst record in baseball is bad enough. But the fact that every game they make several basic, fundamental mistakes makes this team almost an insult to the fans.

Every night it is something. Last night it was many things. It's as if Cabrera-itis infected the bullpen. Walks.

Tonight it was Dukes trying to take third. It's OK to lose, even lose a lot. But this team doesn't seem to have the dignity to lose playing baseball the way it is meant to be played.

Acta semi-defending Dukes is unacceptable. It is a condescending insult to Dukes and to us. Why not say, "Elijah made a fundamental mistake" and leave it at that? Then, go make sure you talk to Dukes in private and make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen again? Problem is, Manny defends him in public, and apparently does nothing in private, because Dukes keeps pulling these bone head plays that hurt the team and demoralize the dwindling fan base.

Posted by: JLNash819 | May 1, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

You make a good point but no manager should should ever berate his players to the media or fans. Discipline belongs in the locker room. I just hope it's taking place there. Have you ever heard Bill Belichick criticize his players in public?

Posted by: soundbloke | May 1, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Said Manny Acta: "I mean, if this is going to be a bad start -- going 5-2/3 innings, and being hurt by real good hitters on mistakes -- we're happy."
And re Dukes’ base running:
"We talk to everybody, not only to him. There's plenty of coaching."
Well, NO!!!
You should not be happy – and there is not plenty of coaching – obviously – if you let a "major league" player continue making base running mistakes that are corrected in high school.
Since "we" implemented plan Z – what's next? "You' reached the END!
Pathetic

Posted by: johnbear1 | May 2, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Manny standing up for his players is 100% acceptable. Of all the things Manny can be criticized for, not selling out those he is responsible for is not one of them. I absolutely would loathe ANY manager that criticizes his players to the media. Fire that guy.

This was a regular loss, not a special loss. Last night was a special loss. Tonight was just baseball.

Posted by: Section506 | May 2, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Ah, said better than I could 506.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 2, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Derrick Turnbow has opted for free agency. He's certainly worth a look for the Nats pen.

Posted by: nats24 | May 2, 2009 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Found a typo in the gamer. It's Happy GilmORE.

Speaking of, I was just noting last night how first we had Chase Buttley then it was Albert Poo-Holes.

Cracks me up. Grown men are still always 11 years old.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 2, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

I absolutely would loathe ANY manager that criticizes his players to the media. Fire that guy.

******************

506, i'm so glad you're back. Great post. Succinct and right on.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 2, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

I agree that last night was just baseball. Dukes has shown he runs the bases much better than he is showing this week. I am no worried it is a long term problem for him.

I think what Manny should say is...”Dukes should know better than that, if the runs he has to make it. He did not and that hurts the whole team." I have talked to him and he understood how I feel about it. End of story, next question please.

He has to stop talking about "youth and we should expect mistakes". Those days are gone.

Oh and by the way....Nice hit Willie....I still want Willingham not to be wasted. and Alex Citron is still 0 for the season and struck out again. Get Casto up here is we are going to have a Left Handed mascot. If not put Willingham up once a day to pinch hit regardless of the pitcher. He is a wasted asset if we do us him and Alex C is not doing it....AT ALL.

Posted by: JayBeee | May 2, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

hehe, my Chicago baseball buddy and I have been calling him that for years...

On another note, why is Teddy R. still racing at this level? He makes bone-headed running mistakes, and the announcers just make excuses for him and laugh it off. Teddy's performance is unacceptable for a major league mascot. Send him down now and bring up somebody who can race the right way. We want Uncle Slam!!

---

Speaking of, I was just noting last night how first we had Chase Buttley then it was Albert Poo-Holes.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 2, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Also, fire the person in charge of managing mascots.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 2, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

No body is talking to Dukes, thats a Manny bold face lie. The guy makes the same mistakes every day (picked off, advancing on balls in front of him etc.). If "Acta the Great and his merry staff" are working with the youngster to improve on his baseball instincts then we wouldn't have to suffer thru these gaffes on a daily basis. Pretty much shows the level of "attention to detail" that all parties are giving each other these days. Stan "the plan" Kasten strums his banjo rather then address the situation at hand, Rizzo's excuse is he is only the interim and of course the Lerners are heading over to Tysons to collect the rent.

That stadium last night was dead and dull, never knew that many people from St Louis live here in DC. If it wasn't for the Red Loft it wouldn't be worth going anymore. Even the Loft is starting to lose its luster.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 2, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I am finding joy in other places. Teixeira is now batting .189 and had another 0-4 game.

Wish I could report the same for FLop.

Dukes looked like Milledge did from last year as Milledge did that twice last year. The only thing I would say in Dukes defense is he got off pretty far from 2nd base and probably thought he was going to throw behind him at 2nd.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 2, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Well, Beimel got lit up in Woodbridge last night, but at least he's back on the mound. I hope for better things on his 2nd rehab appearance; If he proves healthy, he's due back on the 5th or 6th. The team can ship out Rivera or maybe Kensing to SYR.

The next chance to re-arrainge the deck chairs comes on the 14th - I'd like to see them bump Cabrera back to the #5 slot, & move Martis & Zimmermann up.

Posted by: BinM | May 2, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey where is FLop these days? i had forgotten all about our sulking i really don't want to be here(in wash.) erstwhile second baseman.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 2, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"I agree that last night was just baseball. Dukes has shown he runs the bases much better than he is showing this week. I am no worried it is a long term problem for him."

So Milledge does things like this and it's because he's not a major league player, was handed his job without any competition, needs to be sent down, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Dukes does them - not just in one game, but repeatedly over the past week (indifferent fielding vs the Mets, picked off/caught stealing twice, running into an out at third) - and it's "just baseball." Oh-kay. Now we begin to see why JayBeee has a very warped perspective on what constitutes good vs bad baseball, don't we? Face it, guys. He talks a good game every now and then, but basically he's just a hater.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 2, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Nunof1

You are one of a kind. It seems you will disagree or take the opposite position on anything and everything that is posted on this site. I have yet to see a positive comment or one where you agree with someone.

I don't know if your are a married, have kids, have a g/f or work but I feel sorry for your family/colleagues if you act the same with them as you act here on line. I know you are an educated person but you have some of the worst social skills that I have ever seen.

Posted by: mjames0 | May 2, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Felipe Lopez is hitting .333 and over .500 SLG for Arizona:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezfe01.shtml

mjames, nunof is right, this time. To answer his question, look at their batting averages. We don't hear about Austin "I Stink" Kearns any more, do we?

Posted by: Section506 | May 2, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Milledge seemed unable to field or hit this season.

Dukes seems able to do both those things well.

That would be the most significant difference, nunof1.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | May 2, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"Milledge seemed unable to field or hit this season."

I would agree with this. (mjames0, are you paying attention?) He regressed from last year, though, when he was hitting well and seemed to be improving in the field. Which is why it wasn't a bad idea to ship him to AAA to work things out.

"Dukes seems able to do both those things well."

Usually, yes. But he's definitely regressed on baserunning and at times in the field lately. You don't slough that off as "just baseball". It bears watching and if things don't turn around for him then maybe something will need to be done about it. You know, like sitting him down or some other punishment that the haters here are all to eager to demand for players who aren't their favorites and who do the same kind of thing.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 2, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

You know we all went nuts about the Milledge demotion but, it really does seem to have worked. Or course he deserves to be back in the bigs soon but, we have to trade a lot of people before we can give him his every day shot. If he is a left fielder then we need to lose Johnson or Willigham, and if he is a center fielder we need to lose Kearns so Dukes can go back to his natural position.

Trade the spare parts for the love of God!!!

Posted by: soundbloke | May 2, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

My comment about just baseball was about last nights lose verse the most of the other loses of Bull Pen and walks types.

Dukes and Milledge are like night and day. ABM is just being ABM....

Posted by: JayBeee | May 2, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

as the Ol Perfesser used to say, "I coached good, but boy, did they play bad."

Posted by: CEvansJr | May 2, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Milledge IS the spare part.

Posted by: CEvansJr | May 2, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Because a good team would usually overcome them, and not be 5-70 (or whatever).
Seriously, these guys are getting past "losing" and deep into "loser" territory again this year. Mistakes like boneheaded baserunning that would embarrass a Ponce 48+ player (Shout to Catcher 50!) are part of that, even mistakes good teams might make, because good teams aren't staring at "here we go again" in the dugout, and the Unknown Fan in the stands.

*********
Dukes would not get sent down from the Braves. On a good team, Dukes's two base running mistakes would be an irritant.
Posted by: soundbloke | May 1, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CEvansJr | May 2, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

which reminds me, maybe instead of Cliff, we could have a really big GONG out on the cherry bomb pavilion.

Posted by: CEvansJr | May 2, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

yeah, that's the ticket. We get 3 e-list celebrity announcers to call the game from the MASN box (what's Morganna doing these days?), maybe put them up on the jumbotron during stops in play.
For special games, (do we play the Red Sox here this year?) we could have them lead the crowd in singing "Street Caroline" (not sure we could put the lyrics on the scoreboard there...)

Posted by: CEvansJr | May 2, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

maybe they could hum it...

Posted by: CEvansJr | May 2, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Just once, I want to hear at least a rumor that, after one of these disgusting losses, Manny had gone into the clubhouse and kicked over the buffet table, or threw an armload of bats into the midst of a bunch of happy players, a la "Bull Durham" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLMl0CLIDLg).

Then he could come out and be as sweet as pie to the press about forgiving a game's 11 walks, four HBP, and four WP, or three baserunning gaffes by the same player on three consecutive nights.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 2, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

BGinVA: "I went to the Taste of the Majors stand on the Gallery level with the intent of ordering a Philly Cheese Steak and parmesan garlic fries. However, they had no cheese and no garlic. The workers were standing behind the counter complaining how they were out of a lot of items. That should not happen. There has to be a supervisor somewhere who should have been notified and corrected the problem. Leaving empty-handed, I then went a nearby portable beer stand, where I saw a Blue Moon tap (my favorite). But, once again, I was shut down as I was told they were out of draft beer and my choices were limited to a couple of domestic bottled beers."

------------------------------------------
And all that happened on a night when the ballpark was, at best, 20% full. If they're out of everything on a night like that, what are they gonna do when, by some freak alignment of the planets, they actually draw 20,000 one day?

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 2, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Fire Manny !!!!! Now

Posted by: KGG769 | May 2, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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