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Mets 3, Nats 1

In the 10th inning tonight, the first frame in which Washington's bullpen surrendered a run, Joel Hanrahan threw 30 pitches. Twenty of those were fastballs. If you're looking for signs that he favored his slider, you've got to do some digging. Ahead 0-2 on the first hitter of the inning, he tried a low slider, and Luis Castillo slung a groundball single between first and second. But after that, Hanrahan relied mostly on the fastball, even with the hitters who hurt him.

He walked Carlos Beltran on five pitches, but four were fastballs.

He served up a decisive two-run double to David Wright, but in that five-pitch at bat, he threw four fastballs. The pitch that Wright hammered to right-center was a fastball. Later, when he faced Fernando Tatis, he threw six pitches during the at bat. All were fastballs.

"I threw a lot of fastballs today," Hanrahan said. "The pitch to Wright was a fastball. You get in a situation where you get a chance to strike a guy out and I tried to strike Castillo out with a slider. It was on the ground, almost, and he hit it. I threw [a fastball] to Wright that I over-threw."

I'm only bringing up the whole pitch selection issue because of what Manny Acta said after tonight's game, a 3-1 loss to the Mets. The manager commented that Hanrahan threw too many sliders, and promised to talk with his right-hander on Saturday about the matter. "He continued to have so much more confidence in that slider than in that 95 mph fastball," Acta said.

Hmmm. Seems like a case where the two, the manager and the closer, aren't quite in agreement.

Said Hanrahan: "I don't have a different confidence in either one of those pitches."

Said Acta: "He doesn't have as much confidence [in his fastball] as we have in it, and it's something that we've discussed before and it's something that will continue to come up with him."

A few other quick notes from this one, the Nats' 18th loss in 21...

* Two more errors tonight for your Washington Nine. And that's not counting a low liner that Adam Dunn lost in the lights and a high pop that neither Dunn nor Cristian Guzman made a decisive play on. Dunn made a late sprint for the bloop, but Guzman basically watched the ball sail into shallow left without so much as an effort. "Guzman thought that the ball was far out there," Acta said, "and the ball had some type of backspin and kept coming back (toward the infield). And he just, you know, was pointing at it thinking the ball was over there by Dunn, and we spoke to him and said, 'Go for every ball.'"

* Shairon Martis threw a lot of pitches tonight. A lot. Blame four walks and several other deep counts. He threw 110 in five innings. "Obviously because he threw all those pitches he couldn't go deeper in the game," Acta said, "but he threw the ball well."

* Mike MacDougal, hot damn. He came on in the seventh to face pinch-hitter Gary Sheffield. Two were on. One was out. MacDougal threw three fastballs, all 96 mph or higher. Sheffield K'd on three pitches. The bullpen, in total, contributed four scoreless innings before Hanrahan's 10th.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 5, 2009; 11:52 PM ET
 
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Comments

Closer and manager not on the same page. Shortstop quitting on pop flies. The inevitable Austin Kearns strikeouts. Can somebody please, please explain why this stiff is batting in the six-hole? Why he is even playing?
13-and-38, StanK? Hello? Anybody home?
Manny Must Go!

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 6, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Feels like it may be time for McDougal to get a shot at closing for awhile. Hanrahan is unwatchable for fans and I've got to believe teammates at this point. I do not understand why Belliard and Kearns get at bats on this team anymore. Yes, Willingham is hurt. But it may be that we have to face up to *performance* and say that are best outfield is Dunn, Dukes and Willingham/Harris. I just cannot bear to watch Kearns anymore.

Kudos to Alberto Gonzalez for a clutch pinchi hit at bat. He's 3-3 for in pinch hitting situations. Looks like he deserves to stick around and see if he can earn enough confidence in the team to see if we can trade Guzman. Guzman's bonehead defense is what's making him virtually untradeable, though.

Posted by: souldrummer | June 6, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Interesting perspective on how out of touch Manny Actaclueless actually is... I have said it before but it is increasingly becoming more clear: Acta has no freakin clue what he is doing.

Hanrahan is no closer, yet Manny Dumb Arse keeps throwing him out there in a situation for which he is ill prepared. It is tragically comedic.

I just have this sense that no matter how many times Hanrahan screws the pooch -- eventually even a blind squirrel will find a nut -- Actaclueless will trumpet his success or babble incessantly about him needing confidence, made even more preposterous by Manny Dumb Arse's inability to tell the difference between a slider and a fastball.

Can anyone really, truly, honestly say that Acta deserves to be a manager of a major league baseball team?

This is like a slow motion train wreck. You see it coming and there's nothing you can do about it.

Posted by: randy_boyd | June 6, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Three runs in three games.

Our offense is getting revenge on the pitchers for losing all those games when they put up six or eight runs.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | June 6, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game tonight. I love watching Martis pitch. He works so fast, and he seems fearless, even against very good hitters.

One of the "hits" he gave up was the pop-up that dropped b/t Dunn and Guz, and that ended up being the runner that scored the only run against SM, so Martis got screwed on that one. If not for that, he would have pitched: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R. Pretty nice outing.

Posted by: usmc53 | June 6, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

USMC...in case you haven't seen the replay yet, Wright was out by at least 4 inches at third on that play. Coulda been a sweet 1-0 win if everything else went the same.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | June 6, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I love this team!

(I also love smacking my thumb with a hammer).

Thankfully, the hammer thing doesn't cost $80 for 2 tickets, $30 for parking, and $25 for two beers & a dog.

In comparison, the hammer on thumb is a bargain. And makes more sense....even if the pain is about the same.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | June 6, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Hanrahan's outing yesterday (according to MLB.com Gameday):
7 fastballs, 2 curveballs, 0 sliders.
0.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 K.

I just don't understand how Manny keeps talking about how he will be great if he just throws his fastball more. Why can't he face the truth that Hanrahan is just not good (or even decent)?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | June 6, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Hanrahan pitched a good 9th. Hernandez, batting 8th, made the third out in the bottom of the inning so Manny sends Hanrahan out for another inning. Fine. But at the first sign of trouble (the leadoff hit), someone should be up in the bullpen. And when he walks Beltran, you've got to yank him. Instead, Manny waits to warm up Colume (eeek) until after Wright's game winning hit. Why oh why?

Posted by: Section222 | June 6, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

If Acta doesn't like the pitches Hanrahan is throwing why doesn't he call the pitches for him. It seems like a pretty easy fix. Or is he afraid of being where the "buck stops". I thought that was what leadership was about.

Posted by: natsguy | June 6, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Leadership? Manny? You're kidding, right?
This guy is in so deep right now he has watermarks on his forehead. He's the laughingstock of baseball, and he's the dumb face of the franchise.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 6, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Any truth to the rumor that Acta was walking around before the game in Walter Johnson's formerly glass-encased uniform, eating a fresh carton of strawberries, and wiping the juice down the front of the jersey?

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 6, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Four inches? looked more like four feet to me.

**************
USMC...in case you haven't seen the replay yet, Wright was out by at least 4 inches at third on that play. Coulda been a sweet 1-0 win if everything else went the same.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | June 6, 2009 12:27 AM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

"And he just, you know, was pointing at it thinking the ball was over there by Dunn, and we spoke to him and said, 'Go for every ball.'"
God and you all know I don't pile on Manny, but geez louise, how long has Guzman been in the league? You "spoke to him"?? and he slapped his forehead and said, "Duh! Silly me!!"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

You could have seen this loss coming from a mile away (then again just about every game the Nats play, you could see a loss coming). I mean here's Redding who has struggled, and the Mets coming off getting swept by the Pirates, and you just know that the Nats (the givers that they are) would make Redding look like an all-star, and give the Mets a win thanks to our supposed closer.

And to think it's most likely going to get even worse in the coming weeks when we have to play the Yankees and Red Sox.

Posted by: rxs85 | June 6, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

this past weeks weather issues conjure up images of the groundskeepers in Major League and their famous quotes..."they're lousy"...the tv version of course, because who knows what harm might befall our nation should someone use the s word but i digress...

Posted by: formerlylove1 | June 6, 2009 3:08 AM | Report abuse

This isn't a pitch selection issue, its a PITCHER selection issue. I've asked this for months now -- why is Joel Hanrahan the closer on this team? He NEVER gets the job done yet Manny Acta keeps running him out there. This isn't rocket science or even baseball smarts. Its simple common sense.

Posted by: raymitten | June 6, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

DEFINITION OF INSANITY= ACTA & HANRAHAN: He can't close or hold or protect or even keep you close!! yet Acta keeps trotting him out there expecting different results,Rizzo needs to wake up,it's obvious that Manny ain't got a clue or why else would he continue to scuttle any hopes of the Nats winning any game that Hanrahan pitches.Rizzo needs to tell Manny "i'm sending him to Syracuse" because that's where he belongs and then he needs to fire Acta.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 6, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

It really sucks being a Nats fan.

They really should've won 1-0 last night, Duke's throw clearly got Wright before he touched third base.

I agree with everyone. This whole "let's see if Hanrahan can be our closer" thing isn't working. It IS insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.) What has Hanrahan done to deserve the chance every single night? Acta puts him out there every game and thinks something different is gonna happen. What is Manny thinking? He has rarely gotten the job done, why can't Acta give another guy a chance?

Posted by: rachel216 | June 6, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I asked Manny Acta why Joel Hanrahan is the closer on his masnsports.com blog during the last homestand, and he answered me earlier this week. Here is the exchange, take it for what it is worth.

Ray: Manny -- Why is Joel Hanrahan the closer? I'm a season ticket holder there night after night and last night I predicted the results of the game the minute I saw Joel warming up. I even predicted his wild pitch. I'm not Kreskin. He just continues to do the same things to fail game after game but yet you keep running him out there. Anyone who has watched the team with any regularity this year knows what's going to happen. I don't want to bash the guy, Joel is a very nice kid, but he's consistent only in his ineffectiveness and if it comes to the point that I, just as a fan, know what's coming, its very sad. Could you please explain your reasoning behind keeping Joel in the closer role? Thanks, Ray

Manny Acta: Ray, We believe that Joel is our best option to close our games; he has struggled, but so has everybody else. He has the stuff to overpower hitters, and he needs to find the confidence to do it. I believe in him and you should too...

Posted by: raymitten | June 6, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Hanrahan, closer, more like an opener. It really has come to the point that if he comes in to close, it's over, but not in a good way. I concur that MacDougal seems to be the answer now.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 6, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I should be glad that I couldn't watch the game (still working on the Verizon issue).

Also, carrying over:

Nice find on the Mamie Johnson article, sec3. Let us know what you find out. And my thoughts are with the remaining WWII vets and their bands of brothers who didn't make it back on June 6.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 8:42 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

No pitch count ever won a baseball game. Teams win games by scoring more runs then their opponent scores. Taking a starting pitcher out of a close game in the sixth inning just because he has exceeded his pitch count is not playing to win it is playing to lose and this is what the Nationals seem to be doing.....playing to lose. See you out in the center field lounge tonight because the beer is always good.

Posted by: skygrunt | June 6, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Really glad you brought this up, Chico.

Imagining the conversation:

Manny: Why did you throw so many sliders to David Wright?

Joel: Uh, I threw fastballs, Skip.

Manny: I think you should just stick to your fastball, Joel. Trust your best stuff.

Regarding sec222's excellent point about Manny, as usual, being unready to bring in a reliever at a key time--in this case, after the walk to Beltran--they used to say Casey was always three innings ahead when he managed, and Yogi was three innings behind. On the Casey-Yogi scale, where do we find our skipper?

Posted by: paulkp | June 6, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I've heard over and over how Acta does not like to bunt. Well tough sh&!. It was inexcusable not to move Guzman over to second in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game. Wright was playing nearly in the shortstop position with Johnson up with no outs. So what does brainless do? He allows Johnson to hit and of course he pops up. I don't care if Babe Ruth is up. Sacrifice! Move the man over. A bloop single would have won the game! Is this idiot that clueless? Can he not see the field? Is his bench coach not allowed to talk to him?

Posted by: MKadyman | June 6, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of moving over, new post is up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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