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They Won . . . Again

Can you believe it? Three in a row.

The Washington Nationals' outlasted the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, in 11 innings for their third consecutive victory. It matches their longest win streak of the season, from May 7-9.

"It's a step that we had to take," Manager Manny Acta said. "We needed to do something like this."

With the bases loaded and one out, Adam Dunn shocked a single down the first-base line to score Cristian Guzman and lift the Nationals to the walk-off win. It was Washington's first win in extra innings this season.

But it was not always pretty. The team that played so crisply against the New York Yankees must have stayed in the Bronx. These Nationals returned to form last night, accumulating three errors. Their pitching and bullpen remained solid, though, and their offense stayed its sluggish self.

Both teams wasted scoring chances, and it was not necessarily a result of masterful pitching. In the seventh inning, for example, Washington spoiled a prime opportunity. With two men on and none out, Ryan Zimmerman was then called out looking at a 3-2 slider on the outside. He flipped away his bat carelessly and the fans booed the call. After Dunn was intentionally walked, Elijah Dukes and Josh Bard both struck out looking to end the Nationals' bases-loaded scoring opportunity. Dukes struck out on a 2-2 slider that rode inside on his hands. Bard stared at a 3-2 fastball that was high and inside.

"In a way, I thought we had our opportunity earlier," Acta said, referring to the seventh inning. "Usually you don't take advantage of it, it comes back and bites you."

In the eighth inning, Toronto took its turn by botching its chance to take a late lead as Washington teetered in a perilous position. Scott Rolen reached first to lead off the inning after Guzman booted a grounder to shortstop. Then reliever Ron Villone, who has taken the loss in four of his last five appearances, entered a game already on pins and needles. After inducing one out, Villone allowed a single to Alex Rios and then walked Lyle Overbay to load the bases. He was removed after throwing 18 pitches to three batter, helping to put the Nationals in a bases-loaded crisis they eventually escaped with the help of Joel Hanrahan.

"They've been solid for us the last three weeks at least," Acta said of the relievers. "Hanrahan was the biggest one, coming into the game with the bases loaded."

The Nationals would not ruin their chance to win it in extra innings. In the 11th, Guzman smoked a come-backer at Toronto pitcher Jason Frasor. Next, Johnson and Zimmerman each walked to load the bases. And then Dunn drilled a 0-2 fastball into the outfield, allowing Guzman to trot home safely to give the Nationals' the win.

By Mark Viera  |  June 19, 2009; 11:47 PM ET
 
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Next: Willingham Reinstated; Patterson Optioned

Comments

It sure did look like it was going to come back and bite them as Manny said, but they managed to hold on thanks to the 'pen and finally win an extra-innings game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 19, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and how about that catch by Super Willie? Speaking of Harris, somebody with PhotoShop skills should take a still of his sliding catch from the Yankees game, add a cape, and superimpose it on a blue sky. Yeah, that would be nice.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 19, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

"Oh, and how about that catch by Super Willie? Speaking of Harris, somebody with PhotoShop skills should take a still of his sliding catch from the Yankees game, add a cape, and superimpose it on a blue sky. Yeah, that would be nice."

Yeah...that would be nice.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 20, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

How often do you see a team have more errors than it does runs, and still win the game?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 20, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

I don't see why we would even consider adding Olsen back to the rotation at this point...

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | June 20, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

3 in a row..

Operation Save Manny is in full effect.

Keep winning!

Posted by: MrMadison | June 20, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

OK, tonight makes for another discussion:
Line-ups: Offense (!) or defense?

Thursday night, in NYC, Manny unexpectedly went with his B-Team line-up of Defense First and the team played crisp, exciting b'ball.
Friday night, in DC, Manny predictably went back to his A Team of Offense First(!) and the team played sloppy and DULL baseball.

I know this is just two games, but it would be interesting to see the defense line-up play a few more games...

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | June 20, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

How about trading Villone (solid veteran but a guy with some value right now), and using Olsen as a lefty out of the pen?

Posted by: sammoMD | June 20, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Also, who goes down to make room for Willingham tomorrow?

Posted by: sammoMD | June 20, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

@sammonMD: I can answer that one: Patterson gets Pattersoned when Willy comes back. If not Pattersoned, at least shipped back to SYR. If they really had some nerve, they'd Patterson Kearns. Worthless.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 20, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

From previous post:

MY, come on. You don't think that yelling "GIT 'ER DUNN" when no. 44 strides to the plate should become a tradition in NatsTown

Posted by: twinbrook
-------------------------------------

I like it. When the homepark announcer calls up Dunn, right after the "Adam," everyone yells "GIT'R" before he finishes with "Dunn"

Posted by: HotNats | June 20, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Excellent night at the park tonight. There was actually hints of real fan enthusiasm from time to time.

Nick was on base 6 times, going 3-3.
GascanHanrahan looked sharp for his 5 outs.
Kip Wells: 1 pitch, 1 out, have a seat.
JZimm: RBI!
RZimm looked a little out of sorts tonight.

But it seemed it was full count on every single batter tonight. Ugh.

Posted by: dand187 | June 20, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Lovin' the starting pitching and the bullpen. So weird how it was our pitching that struggled and our offense that was hot, now it's the other way around, we need both clicking, but wow, I'm amazed about the improved pitching. So many times I thought Colome or Hanrahan would blow it, but they didn't! It must be Steve McCatty! =)

And it was fantastic to see all the Nats fans cheering, I even heard "let's go Nats!" during the game. When did we ever hear that before? :)

Posted by: rachel216 | June 20, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Much as it sticks in my craw to say it, I gotta say something nice about MASN here.

After the end of the game, before Nats Postgame Extra, they ran the usual clips of game highlights. They ran about a half-dozen of Blue Jays batters striking out, immediately followed by the two dumbass umps in the stands ringing them up. Of course, Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber didn't actually ring up any Blue Jays during the game, only Nats batters.

I can't imagine those two clowns getting away with their stupid little act in New York, Boston, or Philadelphia without buying a lot beer for everyone in their vicinity. I swear to God, if I was sitting behind them, I'd have told them, "The next time you stand up and I have to look at your stupid ass, there's going to be a puddle of beer on your seat when you sit down."

Or maybe I'd have just done it without saying anything. Over and over again until they got the hint.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Much as it sticks in my craw to say it, I gotta say something nice about MASN here.

After the end of the game, before Nats Postgame Extra, they ran the usual clips of game highlights. They ran about a half-dozen of Blue Jays batters striking out, immediately followed by the two dumbass umps in the stands ringing them up. Of course, Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber didn't actually ring up any Blue Jays during the game, only Nats batters.

I can't imagine those two clowns getting away with their stupid little act in New York, Boston, or Philadelphia without buying a lot of beer for everyone in their vicinity. I swear to God, if I was sitting behind them, I'd have told them, "The next time you stand up and I have to look at your stupid ass, there's going to be a puddle of beer on your seat when you sit down." (Or maybe an overturned plate of nachos and cheese, or something from Ben's Chili Bowl. The possibilities are endless.)

Or maybe I'd have just done it without saying anything. Over and over again until they got the hint.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Sorry - semi-double post. But the second one is a little better...

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Notebook says one of our rookie pitchers may go back to Syracuse when Scott Olsen returns.

Here's Olsen's line in Syracuse:
GS: 2
IP: 6.2
H: 11
R: 7
ER: 6
HR: 2
BB: 5
SO: 4
ERA: 8.10

Explain to me why we want to send someone down in exchange for this. Does Olsen have photos of Manny in bed with a dead 11-year old girl, a live 10-year-old boy, and a goat?

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

That's good, HotNats. I've always been a proponent of the Git R Dunn call. :-)

---

I like it. When the homepark announcer calls up Dunn, right after the "Adam," everyone yells "GIT'R" before he finishes with "Dunn"

Posted by: HotNats | June 20, 2009 1:11 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Not so funny, IMO.

---

Does Olsen have photos of Manny in bed with a dead 11-year old girl, a live 10-year-old boy, and a goat?

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 7:24 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

gilbertbp: Yes, those two idiots behind home plate were so annoying! We did not need 3 umpires.

Posted by: rachel216 | June 20, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Now *that's* funny. Why did I keep thinking that if they were Nats fans and a Blue Jay fan complained, the "umps" would have been ejected?

---

(Or maybe an overturned plate of nachos and cheese, or something from Ben's Chili Bowl. The possibilities are endless.)

Or maybe I'd have just done it without saying anything. Over and over again until they got the hint.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 7:03 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Of course Olsen will be back in the starting rotation. Why not, will this hurt our playoff chances? They are going to shut down some of the young guys by Labor Day anyway.

It's incredible that we survived that bottom of the 7th. How pathetic is this team with runners in scoring position. That called 3rd strike on Zim was a strike, as were the other two.

Posted by: rbelleisle | June 20, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

@rbelleisle

Pardon me, but one called strike was do far to the outside (Dibble and pitch track confirmed this) that Zimm had words with the Ump. I believe that the called 3rd strike (which was a strike) came on a 2-2 count when it should have been a 3-1 count. Dibble made the point that the bad called changed the at bat way in the favor of the pitcher. That said both Zimm and Dukes should have been hacking. However, "how pathetic" was the team in the bottom of the 11th? Save the venom for a loss.

Posted by: ehardwick | June 20, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

rbelleisle: "Of course Olsen will be back in the starting rotation. Why not, will this hurt our playoff chances? They are going to shut down some of the young guys by Labor Day anyway."

Fine, bring him back up Labor Day.

Something I've heard from several of the pitchers the last few days: They know they're all young and inexperienced, but they feed off each other, a friendly competition. "There, I just pitched seven innings of four-hit ball. You gonna top that tomorrow, Meat?" They've played together, often in multiple minor-league levels; they're developing an esprit de corps.

Why break that up now, when it's looking like it might really be starting to gel, faster than even the most optimistic Kool-Aid drinkers were predicting? Just so you can bring up Olsen, who hasn't proven he can win even at AAA? I don't get it.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 20, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Second that re. the young rotation.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Seems like Detwiler, Stammen, and Olsen are in competition over the next couple starts for two spots. Olsen wins a tie if it looks like more seasoning will help a young guy. If Detwiler and Stammen show they belong, maybe they stay. Olsen has to show he is ready too, and if he does, and a young guy falters some, then Olsen gets the call.

Posted by: EdDC | June 20, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice Dunn quote from the OP (always good to have a sense of humor about yourself):

"I was trying to get something I could hit in the air, but the first two pitches he just blew it by me," the cleanup man said. "I don't really have a two-strike swing, but I told myself to have a more level swing and just try to put the ball in play and use my blazing speed to beat it out."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

As seen on the nats320 site. Can't say that I agree with Stan on this one. If I'd been sitting behind them I'd have found it annoying. Actually, I found it annoying while watching them on tv.

---

Almost everybody sitting in Presidents Club wanted to take a picture with them. Team President Stan Kasten--so enamored with them--he personally went over to introduce himself and thank them for their fun. "They are having a good time," Mr. Kasten said." They are not being obnoxious. People are enjoying it."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

How about going with a six-man rotation for a few weeks until the all-star break and see what plays out? It will limit the innings on the young arms and give us an opportunity to see if Olsen will be part of this group. Francona is talking about doing it when Smoltz comes up this week.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 20, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I think you guys forget that Olsen is only 25 and the same age as Stammen....so when you find yourselves becoming "what have you done for me lately" fans...remember that we've already punted the season. Look at the big picture. The guy may be a loose cannon, but he has talent and could use just as much developing as the other "young guys".

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | June 20, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I was at the park (albeit not right behind them) and I thought the bogus umps were hilarious, especially they way they were synchronized with each other.

Posted by: ramgut | June 20, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Another thought on Olsen. He makes good bucks (by Nats' standards, if not MLB). Maybe the Nats have to bring him up, to evaluate whether they want to go into arb with him in the off-season? This could boil down to a money decision in some ways.

Posted by: EdDC | June 20, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the season long ineptitude of Manny Acta now we are "shutting down" the young pitchers for sake of their throwing arms PLEASE!!. Stop it! stop babying these players and let them get used to throwing if they take care of themselves i.e. stay in shape(running,lower body conditioning, and doing light throwing exercise) they will be fine.Pitchers pitch thats what they do quit babying these guys.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 20, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Good point Ed...he flashed some real potential in Florida, just needs to find a way to overcome the 2 cents head. I mean people are already talking about trying to get Matt Chico back in the rotation at the end of the year. I think we have enough pitchers who throw in the mid-80's.

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | June 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the two extra umpires hang out with the Blue Jays. Note article from the web on May 14th Yankees - Jays:

"Eagle-eyed viewers of last night’s game at the Rogers Centre between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays noticed some interestingly dressed fans sitting behind home plate while Johnny Damon was at-bat.

A pair of guys had dressed up as fake umpires and were signaling calls at the same time as the real umpire.

Later on in the game, the YES announcers noticed the fake umpires as well and talked about them for a couple of minutes.

These guys should be applauded for their effort. Not only did they presumably shell out for the tickets, getting full umpire garb, including a mask, can’t be cheap.

In a world where we usually only see jackasses waving while talking on cellphones behind home plate, this was a welcome change.

And because this was the first thing that came to mind when this story came out, here’s “Fake Empire” by The National."

Posted by: yesimanatsfan | June 20, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

It is not so much that Manny and the Nats are "babying them," dargregmag; it is more that, like all good pitchers, they have been "babied" (although I question the term) since Little League. When have any of them pitched 200 innings before? It is not just the arms - as you acknowledge in referencing their conditioning - but the lower bodies and backs get tired as well and that leads to arm problems. This is not football - being tougher than the other guy isn't as important as being smarter.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 20, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Is that thunder I hear? Now I know the Nats must be on a home stand.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 20, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Calling Manny inept for being careful with guys who in other organisations would be up and down from AAA to the bigs is a just flat out wrong.

I did a largely unscientific poll of the Prior family and 9 out of ten of them favoured limiting pitch counts in pitchers under 25.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 20, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Unless Olsen re-injures himself, the Nationals have to bring him back to the active roster after 20 days (maximum) on a rehab assignment; it's part of the CBA, iirc.

Going to a six-man rotation (as someone suggested earlier) might be something for the team to consider if they are going to put Olsen back in the rotation.

Posted by: BinM | June 20, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Stormy weather in my neck of the woods, too, leetee.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Almost everybody sitting in Presidents Club wanted to take a picture with them. Team President Stan Kasten--so enamored with them--he personally went over to introduce himself and thank them for their fun. "They are having a good time," Mr. Kasten said." They are not being obnoxious. People are enjoying it."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 9:36 AM
______________________________________________________________

Stan is such a punk arse.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 20, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Is this true, Chico?

Holy smokes.

-----

In June, the Washington starters' 3.11 ERA ranks second in baseball behind the Chicago Cubs starters' 2.11 ERA.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

This would be a more unfortunate photo shop, eh, 1a?

-----

Harris tracked backward to his left, then twisted around to his right when he noticed the ball tailing. He dived, made the catch and then skidded across the warning track like a seal performing at Sea World.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 20, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Definitely unfortunate, JiM.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

How Things Change

In the last 30 days, the Nats team ERA is No. 9 in MLB at 3.64.

But the offense is dead last (30th) in every stat that matters __runs (83 in 26 games), batting average (.225) and OPS (.655). The magnitude of the team slump hasn't been noticed much. They should wake up at some point fairly soon, perhaps when Willingham adds a bat.

I guess the question is whether, when the hitting "normalizes" __probably about the middle of the pack in the N.L. for the whole season__ will most of the improved pitched stick around. If so, you could see a lot of improvement over the last 100 games, perhaps the sort of ~.450 play that was expected before the season by some. But if either the kid starters or the bullpen oldsters fall apart...

Earlieer this week, Zimmerman told me, "We knew that four guys weren't going to hit .350 for the season." But they didn't know that reversion to the mean would take the form of a .225 month.

If the hitting just returns to adequate, then watching the progress of Lannan-Z'nn-Martis-Detwiler-Stammen-Olsen-Balester could be quite a bit of fun for the hard core that's still paying attention.

(Yeah, it's raining at Bethpage and it's going to get a lot worse. Just thought I'd say, 'Hi.' Always enjoy reading the stuff here.)

Boz (on a different road computer)

Posted by: Thomas Boswell | June 20, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Boz. Thanks for checking in.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm OK with the umps doing the Rocky Horror thing for their team on the road. It's a one-joke bit, but it's a funny joke, at least the first few times you see it. Beats sitting there like nodding junkies and applauding politely at inappropriate times.

Of course, I would have thought the hot dogs on the seat were funny, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 20, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Granting that it's always better to hit than not to hit, a team can hit poorly and still win. You can't field poorly and win. You can't pitch poorly and win much.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 20, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Boz, Take a rain delay from that itty-bitty little golf tournament anytime and check in with some bits of tid. What do you think they should do with Bobo Olsen? Personally, I'd give him a one-way to SYR, and keep the kid rotation, but I realize that's a bit harsh. Can either his ego or his stuff handle the bullpen?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 20, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Or:
Chicks dig diving catches, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 20, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Why does the "schedule" link with the articles still point to the spring training schedule?
And will Manny get blamed for that, too?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 20, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love The Boz. How cool is it that Boz, hanging out in the rain up at the Open in NY, is thinking Nats Baseball and takes the time to make a quick jump into a Nats conversation.
That's really awesome!
BTW loved the Audience Umps last night. Those dudes were hilarious.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 20, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

BTW I'm beginning to think the only way to protect the outfield with Dunn and Dukes out there is to place Mighty Willie Mouse in CF and let him run wild covering as much ground as possible. I know Dunn is great at the plate and his error didn't hurt last night (although it could have cost Washington the game), but it's seriously only a matter of time before he continues really hurting our defense again. We never would have won those games in NY with him out there. What to do?

Posted by: dovelevine | June 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Very cool, doveline.

Speaking of Olsen, new post up.

(And I love good defense.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Mighty Willie Mouse - LOL! Here I come to save the day...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 20, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

JD,

The Nats have to find out what they have in Olsen. There's no realistic choice. Almost nobody ever has five starters better than Olsen was last year __201 IP and 4.10 ERA (from memory)__ and three straight years without missing the start. We've all talked about the rumors are arm trouble, that he lost velocity in second half '08. But he finished September with four straight solid starts __3-1, 24-20-(8-7)-7-17. That was part of the reason the Nats thought he had to be "whole." Two of those starts were against the Nats! Maybe that's why he got 'em out. But they thought they "saw" a decent young rotation guy up close. So, which is he? He's coming back slowly because the kids are doing well. But they also want him to have as much arm strength as possible so they can judge him accurately. He had ONE start this year __vs Philly, I think__ when his fastball was 90, curve sharp, looked like the Olsen who had a good rep as a lefty who might have a long career. Also, after almost 100 starts in Fla his "career comparable" stats (on baseballreference.com) should have some meaing. And his top 10 comps include (No. 1) Frank Viola, Jeff Weaver, Eric Milton (lefty), Ben Sheets and (a silly one at No. 10) Tom Glavine.

Nats don't know what their rookies will do when the league learns them (or they learn the league. Olsen has proved he can be a 10-12 win guy on a mediocre-poor team at a young age. Is he still that guy? I don't think it's the ~$3M contract so much (thought that matters) as it is the Natural Sequence for finding out about all these guys. Detwiler is the cliche choice to go to AAA. But, so far, he looks very comfortable in the bigs, very at ease in the locker room, too. Bobby Cox talked to the Nats FO after first seeing Detwiler and said, basically, "Hey, who's THAT kid."

So, that's why it's so hard not to bring Olsen back and, presumably, put him in the rotation for the rest of the year as long as he's healthy. Of course, if his ERA is still 7.24 in eight more starts, then it becomes a different issue. However, it's interesting that in 109 career starts his ERA is now up to 4.80. Who'd have thought, a few months ago, that a durable lefty with averaged MLB career numbers would have to fight to keep a rotation spot with the Nats. (Pre-Strasburg).

Gotta go. Something about a Tiger...

Posted by: Thomas Boswell | June 20, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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