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Through 5: Phillies 3, Nats 1

I don't dare suggest that a team with a .271 winning percentage should ever feel favored to win a game. But if ever the Nats had a day to like their chances, it was this afternoon. Jamie Moyer v. John Lannan -- that's a pitching match-up Washington should capitalize on. Moyer deserves plenty of admiration for his career, and especially for the 16-win season he had last year as a 45-year-old. But this year, he's serving up a fair version of BP. Entering today, batters were hitting .342 against him. Only one NL starter had allowed a higher average, and that was Ricky Nolasco, who's now with Class AAA New Orleans.

So... through five, the Nats have three hits against Moyer. They've hit some balls hard, to be fair, but other than a Josh Willingham solo homer in the fourth, they haven't been able to break out. The Nats are trailing through five innings, 3-1.

Moyer, by the way, has not gone beyond six innings in any start this year, so let's watch closely what happens from here on.

Washington's lineup now gets its third crack at the lefty.

This year, hitters facing Moyer for the third time are 25-for-61 (.410) with a .721 SLG.

Meantime, Philadelphia has scored single runs in three of five innings against Lannan. The most troublesome run came in the bottom of the fourth, a nice way to immediately dump cold water on any momentum from the Willingham homer. And the Phillies only scored because of (another) bonehead fielding gaffe from Anderson Hernandez. With runners on first and third and one out, Philadelphia's Pedro Feliz knocked a hard grounder to shortstop -- a perfect 6-4-3 double play. Washington handled the 6-4 part just fine. But as Hernandez tried to pull the ball from his glove to complete the double play, something happened. He decided not to throw the ball to first.

Based on the reply, he might have had a momentary difficulty pulling the ball from his glove. He also had to leave the ground to avoid a slide from Philadelphia's Jayson Werth. But neither of those are legitimate reasons for not at least trying to throw to first. The worst-case scenario of an errant throw toward 1B would have merely matched what happened without a throw.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 31, 2009; 3:09 PM ET
 
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Next: Measuring The Worth/Myth Of Infield Practice

Comments

Another Willingham HR!

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 31, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I had much higher expectations about today's game offensively speaking, I seem to recall R. Zimm owned Moyer in ST, thought it'd carry over into the season...
One bright spot is the Willinghammer today, nice 2nd shot!

Posted by: HotNats | May 31, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

A pair of Nats-related notes in Nick Cafardo's Sunday Boston Globe baseball column.

First, Cafardo's ranking of Manny Acta among all major-league managers (number in parenthesis is the 2008 ranking)

27. Manny Acta, Nationals: Trying to juggle a young rotation, a poor bullpen, and a good lineup in a poor environment (18).

And this...

A bit of a National embarrassment
If a Lakeland, Fla., man was selling steroids to the Washington Nationals, as he claims, this is proof that steroids don't work. Or, the Nationals got the generic brand.

Seriously, Richard Thomas was busted at his home with $200,000 worth of steroids that he said he was pumping to players from all teams in all sports, naming the Nationals and the Washington Capitals prominently. Major League Baseball indicated it will conduct its own investigation.

The Nationals can't seem to avoid bad publicity, from the Dominican money-skimming scheme, to general manager Jim Bowden's resignation, to an ugly start to this season that has prompted comparisons to the 1962 Mets.

The Nationals need a management overhaul, but it won't come in time to deal with Scott Boras for San Diego State phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Boras will enter those talks with a tremendous advantage, knowing the Nationals 1. have already committed to drafting Strasburg and 2. have to pay up.

On the field, the Nationals can't win anything, including instant replay, coming out on the losing end of two reviews against the Mets.

There's a general apathy about the team in the nation's capital, and that's not a good thing after MLB steered the Expos from Montreal to Washington. The Nationals ought to be a source of pride for the league, but right now it's kind of embarrassing.

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 31, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

They have to make the change now.

www.natslooser.blogspot.com

Posted by: NFBLooser | May 31, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Another loss to make it 0-6. Acta better not be back for another game. I have tickets for the next two home games, but I'm not going. This is getting old, and I'm not going to go through the trouble of showing up when I know what the result will be. They need a manager who will hold his players - and himself - accountable for poor performance and Acta is not that man.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 31, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

CHICO!

Dibble just said it again....Phils take a lot of infield they are the best defensive team....it shows....on and on......YOU HAVE TO ASK ACTA about this...stop ignoring the issue....The defense is the biggest issue this team faces and DIBBLE is calling ACTA out saying he is not doing is job.....WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Posted by: JayBeee | May 31, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Great game Hammer. To bad you couldn't have had any of your teammates on base when you unloaded today. And congratulations to old man Moyer on his 250th victory. We'll have a chance to extend the same courtesy to Randy (you don't have to call him Johnson) this week when he takes the hill at Nats Park in quest of his 300th win. Not to much doubt about that future outcome now is there..lol? Now you boys settle in on that Acela train for you comfy ride back to DC and have a great day on the links tomorrow to forget all about the unperfect road trip. I'm sure there will be a smattering of loyal fans to greet you tuesday for the beginning of a 9 game homestand. Hit em straight and long tomorrow fellas.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 31, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Did the Nats stop taking batting practice too? Moyer was 0-4 in 5 starts in May, with an ERA of over 8! How did we let him get off so easily? We should have been all over him!!!!

Posted by: BGinVA | May 31, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

what is up with anderson hernandez? he was touted as the defensive second baseman ofthe future but he seems to have problems making routine pickups and getting the ball out of his glove. the guy from the globe is right. this team is an embarrassment and a management overhaul is desperately needed before "crowds" in natstown drop into the 9,000 range. could obama declare the area from m street to the anacostia river and from half street to south capitol street a federal disaster area?

Posted by: surly_w | May 31, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

BG

when your batters go to the plate looking to hack rather than making moyer throw that slop of his in the strike zone, THAT'S why he looked like a poor man's tom glavine in his prime today. willingham did square up a couple ofmoyer's meatballs. btw - we are tied with the '62 mets with a 13-36 record after 49 games.

Posted by: surly_w | May 31, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

In the MASN pregame today, they mentioned that the Nats took infield in Philly this morning. Cut to footage of Acta saying they have been taking infield all season at home, and will now start taking it more often on the road. In the postgame, Knight begged to differ with all of Dibble's comments about them not taking infield. Knight says they are out there taking grounders EVERY DAY. So who ya gonna believe, Dibble (who's doing his XM radio show before every game, and probably not paying attention to warmups) or Knight and Acta himself?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 31, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

It must be great to come into a series with a team knowing that no matter how badly you play the other team will find a way for you to win. Something's got to change, probably a lot of somethings.

Posted by: p-man | May 31, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"could obama declare the area from m street to the anacostia river and from half street to south capitol street a federal disaster area?"

No. His favorite Five Guys is right down there.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 31, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Good-Bye Manny Acta. There is no way he is not fired today or Monday. Not all his fault of course, but it is time. Everything points toward it happening now and I believe it will.

Posted by: prknguy | May 31, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

ABM,

What Acta calls infield is not what Dibble is calling Infield.

Acta and the coaches hit ground balls between BP pitches. That is nothing like true infield/outfield where you focus on all the situations make all the throws and use baserunners.....Don't get fooled. The Nats do not take infield like that, Ray Knight admitted that much....they should every day. That is what Dibble is talking about.

Posted by: JayBeee | May 31, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with Knight. They're putting the work in, at least as a team. For some reason it's not working. Maybe as Knight says they're just tight and trying too hard. Dibble does have a point though that many of these guys should be coming in for extra work on their own.

Whatever, though, I don't think this whole "they're not taking infield" thing is any reason to change managers.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 31, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

.361 %

13 AND 36 suck on it. and like it.

Over/under on Manny getting the guillotine is 12 midnight Monday. Only reason it's not tomorrow morning is because tomorrow's a day off.

Doesn't seem real somehow.

Posted by: Brue | May 31, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

>Acta and the coaches hit ground balls between BP pitches. That is nothing like true infield/outfield where you focus on all the situations make all the throws and use baserunners

Yeah it's all about being game-ready, they don't increase the pace in practice when they're drilling. There's no communication, it's all individual, mechanical - and doesn't have any consequences if you miss the ball. If you're taking infield, and you muff a DP ball at SS, you're letting two other players down because they've gotten in position to complete the play. Different dynamic.

Posted by: Brue | May 31, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I believe Dibble is right on target. If anyone caught Jimmy Rollins this AM on MLB Network, this might explain the difference between the Nats and the rest of MLB. Rollins says that the Phillies infield takes an average of 250+ grounders everyday. He also said they work on situations and communications for coverages and relays. Hmmmm, Knight needs the gig, Rob Dibble is probably ticked that he took the job.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 31, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I think that the problem is that Acta has an 'its okay to lose' enviornment, particularly with some of his favorite players. Yesterday A Hernandez botched a ground ball a 10 year old would catch and Acta blamed the cut of the grass, so today A Hernandez botches a double play. Its not that they don't care -- its that some players (not all) don't care enough. The culture has to change and the only way to do that is to get rid of Acta. The whole "what me worry" Manny Acta act played very well in 2007 because of the grumpy old man backlash, but now its just fostered apathy.

Posted by: raymitten | May 31, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

To all the 'Acta is going to be fired' guys I have two words: Jim Bowden. They didn't fire him and he was the worst GM is baseball, made the Expos worse (think about that. The Expos. I loved them but they also sucked), crashed his car while drinking, and helped a 50 year old short-stop defaud the company before they fired him. Or did they? Hmm.

Manny is going to be here for a while. The Lerners are doing whatever they are doing and they don't care how it effects us or their team.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 31, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

He's got to go tomorrow. If they don't axe Manny tomorrow we're stuck with this the rest of the season. I'm 55 years old, I lived through the expansion Nats and Caps (who this team most closely resembles even if it is a different sport - this time around Stan Kasten is playing the role of Milt Schmidt), and I've never, ever seen anything like this. Acta is clueless. Today he has two players out of position in the outfield rather than one (Harris is no Andruw Jones, but at least he's legit) and once again the ball found the right guy at the right time. I'm surprised that they didn't have to use a corkscrew to get Kearns out of the ground on Howard's triple. So many gaffes, so little time...

Posted by: truke | May 31, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Disappointing, the Nats have now lost 17/20

It's time for a change.

www.TheNatsBlog.com

Posted by: TheNatsBlog | May 31, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The way we are losing reflects the mentality of this team as much as the lack of talent. Acta has got to go! A new manager is not going to take this team to the playoffs, but can stop the mental mistakes this team constantly makes. An example is Guzman covering second on a stolen base with a right handed batter the other day. There are so many little things this team does not do well that is reflected in the final scores of games.

Posted by: Tom8 | May 31, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

This team sucks so bad I can't stand watching them anymore.

Posted by: ridgely1 | May 31, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

raymitten is spot-on with what seems to be the problem. The team has lost the desire to win, and the manager with his attitude that; "raising his voice and showing some emotion once in-a-while is not going to help", has perpetuated the apathy. At this point to try and salvage some of the season they need to change managers.

On another note, who is calling the pitches for our starters? The catchers? Because why would Martis, after giving up 1 homer to Ryan Howard, then throw his 3rd or 4th best pitch to Howard (when Martis is behind 1-0 in the count) on his second plate appearance and give up another homer. Why isn't Randy St. Claire calling the pithes for these young starters?

Posted by: bigmook | May 31, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"On another note, who is calling the pitches for our starters? The catchers? Because why would Martis, after giving up 1 homer to Ryan Howard, then throw his 3rd or 4th best pitch to Howard (when Martis is behind 1-0 in the count) on his second plate appearance and give up another homer. Why isn't Randy St. Claire calling the pithes for these young starters?"

Bigmook: I can't figure that one out either. Why not walk the guy who's killing you, bases loaded or not? Who makes these disastrous decisions? The pitcher, the catcher, St. Claire, Acta, Carpenter, Papa Lerner, Peter Angelos?

No one in Natstown is accountable for anything.

Posted by: JohnRDC | May 31, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

13-36

What's the word for that?

Posted by: Brue | May 31, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

> No one in Natstown is accountable for anything.


Amen, brother. Can you imagine any other MLB team allowing this to happen without a change in managers? 23 games under 500 before June 1. 2-8 in their last 10. 3-17 in their last 20. A zillion fielding errors. Uncontested officiating blunders. And, this with a manager who has never with a lifetime .405 winning average. In a contract year.

Ridiculous. Stan & Ted: No gate dollars from me and my brood until you give some indication that the team is at least trying.

Posted by: mvm2 | May 31, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

> What's the word for that?

Either "Bowdenlicious" or "Mannyactacular"

Posted by: mvm2 | May 31, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

BTW, does anyone besides me find these MASN "defining moments" commercials insulting? I mean this is a lousy team that does everything right. Watching some yahoo pontificate about a Wil Nieves home run from a year ago or an Elijah Dukes career game that was of no particular importance makes me angry. MASN, when the team you're telecasting breaks .500 , then you can go in search of a "defining moment" (whatever the heck that is). Until then, all the plays are equally defining: This team sucks.

Posted by: mvm2 | May 31, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I keep watching the headlines... hoping to see "Acta fired...". I know. Ain't gonna happen. I thought the Lerners at least understood marketing and profitability.

The longer Acta is here the deeper the rut gets. He hit the wall before the season started. He's got nothing left. He's a minor league manager at best.

How much is getting paid anyway? If we can afford to eat DCab's salary....

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | May 31, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Could I nominate Hernandez booting a routine ground ball, when he was meant to be a defensive superstar as a defining moment? How about Willingham stumbling about in the outfield. Less uplifting but far more accurate a definition of this team.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 31, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Guys,
Why bother watching the games, you know the conclusion.

Everyone, including myself a season ticket holder, should boycot the Nationals for this homestand and ask upper management to take a deep breath and fix things.

We can't even sell our tickets for half the value on Stub Hub. Being a season ticket holder is a big loss for us and the Nats should consider giving us a rebate for the trouble.

Posted by: Golfersal | May 31, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Folks the bottom-line seems that a negative mind set permeates this team now, and it is beyond the point where this manager can change that. We need a "reset", so to speak, like resetting your PC when Windows locks up. And that reset is to change manager (and probably the pitch coach as well) and reboot the attitude of this team. That change, along with having the players take "real' fielding practice before games, especially the players that they move around to different positions - can help. We would become a great (or even a good) team overnight, but it has to get better than what are seeing now.

Posted by: bigmook | May 31, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

>"Mannyactacular"

Great alliteration. Could probably write a song off that.

Posted by: Brue | May 31, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

2008:
. 49 games - May 23, 2008: 21-28 (.429) 7.0 GB
. 57 games - May 31, 2008: 24-33 (.421) 8.5 GB
. on pace for: 69-93 (.426)
. final record: 59-102 (.366)

2009:
. 49 games - May 31, 2009: 13-36 (.265) 15.5 GB
. on pace for: 43-119 (.265)

Posted by: Ted_Striker | May 31, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

@Brue

"Mannyactacular"

Great alliteration. Could probably write a song off that.

Or, maybe we could make a "Mannyactaular" Defining Moments commercial.

Let's see - one of those could be when the Nats got the shaft at Citi Field with the "Subway" sign replay homerun. Manny put up such a big stink (not) over that.

Posted by: bigmook | May 31, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The sad state of this team is reflected by the lack of posts during the game. I used to love the vicarious thrill of "watching" games both home and road with the other NJ bloggers and trading snark and banter. But now, NatsTown is a lonely place where even the most devoted fans aren't watching or posting. If the Lerners and Stan the Plan Man really want to take the temperature of the Constituency, they should note the lack of interest during games. It's times like this that I miss posters like flynnie, who always could see some good through the bad times. The last paragraph of the Cafardo excerpt says it all

"There's a general apathy about the team in the nation's capital, and that's not a good thing after MLB steered the Expos from Montreal to Washington. The Nationals ought to be a source of pride for the league, but right now it's kind of embarrassing."

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 31, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

So what is the Over-Under on Dukes paying the legal fees he owes by June 5th -- or if not, going to jail?

Posted by: bigmook | May 31, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I attended the Nats homestand opener in April. They were terrible and we paid $60 per ticket. They were abysmal.

In May, on a 3-week business trip to Cincinnati I saw 3 Reds games during weekday evenings for $5 a game. The Reds played 500 ball. The Cardinals and Phillies were staying on my floor at the Hotel. They were pleasant gentlemen. Nobody stank on the field. The teams played respectable baseball. Outfielders could field. Pitchers could pitch.

Why does bad baseball cost so much in Metro Washington? Why isn't Adam Dunn a DH in the American League?

Posted by: chantillyjack | May 31, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 31, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

there is nothing fun about staring 45 wins right in the face, mlb should be ashamed of how it handled the expos/nats, gutting talent and resources, holding onto the team for exorbitant amount of time delaying any progress, settling on the ownership group that allows itself to be the second most profitable franchise last year and run this product out there the very next spring with the cheapest free agent market in recent memory no less, there are positives about the team but the negatives are so drastic these morsels of hope really have to be sought out

Posted by: bford1kb | June 1, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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