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Brewers 7, Nats 5

There is no five-game winning streak to discuss here. The game that prevented it, indeed, followed the ol' familiar plotline from that earlier, darker chapter of Washington Nationals baseball (circa April to mid-July 2009). Garrett Mock couldn't record an out in the sixth. The bullpen gates opened. A lead disappeared. The sequence on Wednesday night, in what became a 7-5 Nats loss against Milwaukee, only felt surprising given Washington's recent surge, and because the reliever charged to hold a 5-3 lead, Tyler Clippard, had been throwing so well of late.

So what happened? Clippard, to be fair, was thrown into a tough spot. Runners were on first and third, no outs. It all looked good for a moment, as Clippard, on a 3-2 pitch, forced J.J. Hardy into a 5-4-3 double play. Sure, that scored Corey Hart from third, but nobody was on and two were out.

Problem was, Clippard kept throwing balls. He walked Mike Rivera, the No. 8 hitter. Then he fell behind pinch hitter Casey McGehee 3-1. With the count full, Clippard delivered a middle-of-the-plate change-up. McGehee deposited it in the Milwaukee bullpen, barricaded behind the left-center wall. Milwaukee led, 6-5.

"Yeah, he beat me with my best pitch," Clippard said. "I should have never even gotten to that guy. Walking Rivera is what killed me."

A few other notes...

* Mock has yet to impress, at least outside of the International League. Since returning from Class AAA Syracuse, he has made three starts. His totals: 13 2/3 innings, 25 hits, 16 runs, 11 earned runs, 7.24 ERA. Opponents are hitting .403 against him. For his career, Mock has now made six starts. Only once has he completed six innings.

* The Nats were on the good side of a home run review. Here's what happened: In the third, Ryan Braun absolutely demolished a 1-1 pitch from Mock. Back it went, deep center, taking Nyjer Morgan toward the wall. He tried to make a leaping catch. But the ball skipped off the webbing of his glove while he was airborne, deflecting against the yellow stripe atop the wall. Umps originally ruled it a homer, but after a two-minute review, Braun was called from the dugout and given a triple. "It was the right call," Morgan said. "That ball was in my glove, and the way I hit the wall, it jerked it out." Washington didn't need much time to squander its fortune, though. Mock threw a wild pitch during the next at-bat, and Braun scored from third.

* Manny Parra, Milwaukee's starter, had 64 pitches and four walks after two innings on this night. It's hard to believe he went six and picked up the win.

* Morgan, who went 2 for 5, set a Nats record for most hits in the month of July (37). He also made a terrific hustle play in the eighth, going from first to third on a wild pitch. But he couldn't score from third with one out after Cristian Guzman dribbled to first and Josh Willingham grounded out. The only real surprise here is that the potential rally was stymied without assistance from Ronnie Belliard (0 for 5, 6 LOB).

By Chico Harlan  |  July 30, 2009; 12:13 AM ET
 
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Comments

It's bad enough to get new posted, but, heck, at 12:13 a.m.! So again:

I'm not out to make a big defense of Belliard here, but have you guys been watching Hernandez at the plate or Harris at second base lately? Both are pitiful.

Belliard actually made a very nice play tonight, and for all the hate he gets here, has done a decent job in the field. Despite his hitting woes this season (attributed mostly to his riding the pine), I'd prefer him over Hernandez, if it had to be one or the other, in a key spot, based on his track record.

Now, Austin Kearns is a completely different story. Can he please be DFA'd!

Posted by: nats24 | July 30, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love Nyjer! This guy plays with so much...motor. He is always going. That play where he went 1st to 3rd, I turned to my friend and said "he's going to 3rd" and sure enough, he did not pause at all! Then our #2 and #3 guys can't get the ball to a spot where Nyjer can score? That doesn't take much!

Tough night for Clippard.

So, Aug 1, Belliard gets DFA'd. Does Kearns too?

Posted by: mo_dc | July 30, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh, another thing... anyone else wonder why we keep pitching Corey Hart down and in? He's been killing us on that inside pitch this series! And, surprising speed on the bases.

If Milwaukee could get a 3rd bat in the lineup, they'd be a force. You would think they would be buyers but with good crowds to see the Nats on a Monday and Tuesday this week, I would think Bud would say "What, Me Worry?"

Posted by: mo_dc | July 30, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Wondering if Dukes reads this blog? He went 3-4 2 doubles 3 RBI.

Posted by: periculum | July 30, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

lacked the killer instinct tonight, rob dibble needs to teach nasty lessons to some of these guys

Posted by: formerlylove1 | July 30, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Stammen had problems with these guys but the offense and the bullpen rescued him. Tonight with Belliard and Kearns the offense was quite different. Really, the only guy who has made the grade as starter is Lannan. Everyone else still have mixed reviews, excluding JZim who is now shutdown and on the disabled list.

Posted by: periculum | July 30, 2009 1:55 AM | Report abuse

Is it me, or are the Nationals 6-7 under Jim Riggleman?

Is it me, or does it look like the Lerners should have fired Manny Acta about two or three months ago?

Posted by: ZAMBEZI | July 30, 2009 4:54 AM | Report abuse

Is it me, or are the Nationals 6-7 under Jim Riggleman?

Is it me or did we see Riggleman come OUT OF THE DUGOUT when his team had gotten hosed on a call? It is nice to see a manager get off his butt for the team.

Is it me, or does it look like the Lerners should have fired Manny Acta about two or three months ago?

Posted by: ZAMBEZI | July 30, 2009 4:56 AM | Report abuse

You realize, of course, that this loss rests squarely on Needham. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 30, 2009 6:50 AM | Report abuse

You realize that Nyjer Morgan is the first man in history to have a decent game after an article in Nationals Journal praising him.

Posted by: soundbloke | July 30, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Its not you, Zambezi. Nats are 6 - 8 under Riggleman (.429).

But that's alright. If we can take the last game of series, it will be FINE.

Our lack of major-league ready pitching is evident. Five runs doesn't do the job when all you have is Mock to throw against a line-up like Milwaukee's.

Posted by: nattydread1 | July 30, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I had a hard time sleeping last night... much harder than the previous 4 nights. I guess I really do love the Nats that much...

I was happy we had a 5-3 lead, but I had a feeling it wouldn't last. Unfortunate it was Clippard who served up that homer, cause he had been doing so well lately. But that's all on him, there's nothing worse than walking batters then giving up home runs.

I'm really interested to see if anything happens today, I hope something does. I hope JD does well this afternoon, and lasts for more than two innings. (Although that was not his fault last time.) Go NATS! 3 out of 4 would still be great.

Posted by: rachel216 | July 30, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Chico, stop hating on Garrett he has not been a world beater but most of his starts have been bungled by our team's wretched excuse for defense and leaving the bases loaded repeatedly. If you go by the standard of making it out of the sixth inning our whole staff is as bad or worse than Mock except for Lannen.

Posted by: markfd | July 30, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Clippard gave up the bomb right after Carp and Dibs commented that the relievers are more comfortable b/c Riggs lets them know how they will be used that game. So blame it on them. A nice bit of info, but a terrible jinx.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 30, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Don't look now -- but the Pirates are calling up Lastings Milledge to replace the traded Freddy Sanchez on the roster just in time to play against the Nationals this weekend. This, after he hit .337 in 17 games with Pittsburgh's Triple A affiliate and came off like a "model citizen" there, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Joel Hanrahan will surely get some time out of the pen for the Bucs as well against his old team. Here's hoping Morgan and Burnett will outshine the two guys they were traded for.

Posted by: mx_heinrich | July 30, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"Mock has yet to impress, at least outside of the International League. Since returning from Class AAA Syracuse, he has made three starts. His totals: 13 2/3 innings, 25 hits, 16 runs, 11 earned runs, 7.24 ERA. Opponents are hitting .403 against him. For his career, Mock has now made six starts. Only once has he completed six innings."
______________________________________________________________

I think we have seen enough of Mr. Mock. He is a AAAA pitcher and he needs to be on the next flight back to Syracuse.

I'm not going to get into the who we should bring up to replace him stuff but, I do know that Mock ain't got it at the ML level.

Posted by: Section505203 | July 30, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Chico, stop hating on Garrett he has not been a world beater but most of his starts have been bungled by our team's wretched excuse for defense and leaving the bases loaded repeatedly. If you go by the standard of making it out of the sixth inning our whole staff is as bad or worse than Mock except for Lannen.

Posted by: markfd | July 30, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse
--

Sorry - nothing doing here. The defense was fine behind Garret last night. He just kept getting hit. There wasn't a single play in the field that cost him - if anything, Morgan saved him a couple of times or it would have been worse. That was all on him last night.

Posted by: cdstej | July 30, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not going to get into the who we should bring up to replace him stuff"

His name is Jordan Zimmermann and he comes off the 15-day DL in roughly a week.

Posted by: Section506 | July 30, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks 506,

How could I forget about ZNN.

Here's to hoping he is at 100% and soon.

Posted by: Section505203 | July 30, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Mock's main problem is that he throws too many breaking balls. He's got an excellent fastball and 87 mph cutter that works just fine for him. He's different from Ballester because his breaking ball isn't as good, but he uses it almost as often. Ballester uses his curveball as an out pitch, Mock uses his to serve up dinner. That and the fact that he has to get ahead of people, it would make his fastball even more effective.

Posted by: Brue | July 30, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Any night you start Kearns and Belliard in the same game, you can take the night off. The team still looks sharp- we expect growing pains from the young pitchers and can live with it.

Posted by: Tom8 | July 30, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Mock has six starts over the last two years, in which he is 0-5, has earned 23 of the 25 runs he allowed (for a 7.22) ERA. In all his appearances (67.2 appearances and 311 plate appearances, or 4.6 batters per inning), he has 29 SO and 11 BB (for a 2.64 ratio) and the AVG against is only below .300 on 0-1, 0-2, 1-2, and 2-2 pitches (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=mockga01&year=Career&t=p#count).

Posted by: Section506 | July 30, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Becoming obvious that Mock isn't one of the chosen 10 or maybe 11 (if SS gets an offer he can't refuse) fighting for a spot going into 2010.

Lannen, Zimmermann, Stammen, Martis, Detwiller, Olsen, Ballester, Martin, Chico,Estrada, SS etc.

Big difference between AAA and "The Show", in the current world of MiLB AAA is a dumping ground for has beens, retreads, washouts and rehabs so its no wonder the Mocks of the world beef up thier abilitiy only to fold when they get to the Bigs.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 30, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Belliard doesn't deserve to be included with Kearns in the nasty comments that are so annoying in this forum. He played a solid defensive game and actually has a better chance of doing something at the plate than Hernandez, who has added poor hitting to his problems with mental errors at second.

Belliard for sure won't be back and I think second is a major problem for next year. Gonzalez is also going to turn out to be a disappointment.

We don't really have a good candidate in the minors either. Mike Morse looks good but I don't see that he plays second. He's been playing 1st and 3rd at Syracuse and everything I read says he plays those two positions and the 2 corner outfields.

We need to stop trying to acquire herds of pitchers and look at some critical position needs.

Posted by: longhorn64 | July 30, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

@langhorn64: Apparently, "you can never be too rich or have too many pitchers."

100% agreed. Have been saying that for a while here. We need a good defensive infield, and we need to see what the story is with catching and relief. The starters will have to sort themselves out.

Are we all happy here with this Riggleman quote:

"My first priority," he said, "is that we keep this group together and see what we can do with them."

"From an emotional side," he added, "you don't want to lose any of them, because they start to jell a little bit and you feel close to them. Personally, I don't think we're going to lose them, I really don't. I think that we've seen some trades made in the last few days that would probably lower the chances of our guys getting traded but I don't really anticipate losing anybody."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Maybe he has to say that for the sake of not hurting the "feelings" of the current players, but I don't call that a winning proposition. And if I were Nyjer, I would be MAD MAD MAD that I nearly stole a run, and got nada from my teammates. Trade 'em all--except Nyjer.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 30, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Rachel216: I hear ya, i sat on the couch staring at Nats Xtra not really hearing what Johnny and Ray were saying upset at Riggs for playing Belliard and Clippard for not holding the lead, like you and most of us who post here i've got a love affair with these guys win or lose, come hell or high water they're my team.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 30, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@dargregmag: well, you are more forgiving than I am, I guess.

But (sigh) I will be taking a coupla days off so I can go to Nats games next week, and then off on vacation while they are on a road trip...

I feel bad for Clippard, everyone has an off day. But it's really sad that for us FIVE RUNS IS NOT ENOUGH. Really, the TV boys were Dribbling on and on that the Nats offense had "shut down"--really, so we need 13 or 14 to win?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 30, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

You could tell that Zimmerman felt bad when Hart scored from 3rd base on that slow roller that he handled and threw to first, but what else could he have done? Just the breaks. There was nobody covering 3rd base if it had come to running down Hart.

We could use a whole field full of players like Morgan! Our MVP for July.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | July 30, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think every opponent knows that it can come back in the late innings unless it's a blow out. It's a shame. Same story all season long.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | July 30, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't happy with the quote. It's not about seeing what he can do with these guys for the remainder of the year; it's about making the team better for the long term.

---

Are we all happy here with this Riggleman quote:

"My first priority," he said, "is that we keep this group together and see what we can do with them."

"From an emotional side," he added, "you don't want to lose any of them, because they start to jell a little bit and you feel close to them. Personally, I don't think we're going to lose them, I really don't. I think that we've seen some trades made in the last few days that would probably lower the chances of our guys getting traded but I don't really anticipate losing anybody."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Maybe he has to say that for the sake of not hurting the "feelings" of the current players, but I don't call that a winning proposition. And if I were Nyjer, I would be MAD MAD MAD that I nearly stole a run, and got nada from my teammates. Trade 'em all--except Nyjer.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 30, 2009 10:37

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 30, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

OK, Mock is proven. Now, send him back and bring up another. Hey let's check the bunch out. Mock had his chance, now give someone else one. The season is over. Let 'em loose.

Posted by: Pete433 | July 30, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Couple of new posts up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 30, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Mgr.: Good time to rest clean-up hitter- wintertime. Bad time to rest clean-up hitter- winning streak.

Posted by: jsavagelaw | July 30, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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