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Braves 6, Nats 3

And still they lose. Admit it, you knew they would. You knew the Washington Nationals would go down, because that's what they always do. They got another quality start from Livan Hernandez. They got back-to-back homers from Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham. They got another solo shot in the fourth from Mike Morse of all people, and even after the Braves tied the game in the seventh, reliever Tyler Clippard snuffed out a runner-on-third, one-out jam.

Washington's 6-3 loss against the Braves on Sunday afternoon was the byproduct of little mistakes. Each, taken alone, might have been permissible; lump them together, and you've got the makings of a 52-103 team. (Or better yet, a team that's now lost 21 of its last 27 games, getting outscored 159-91 in that span.)

The mistakes Sunday?

Most obvious, the increasingly unreliable Mike MacDougal, pitching in the 10th inning, walked Nate McLouth with one out, pegged Martin Prado with a 96 mph fastball ("That ball ran in two or three feet off of where he was trying to locate it," Jim Riggleman said), and promptly gave up an infield-dribbler base hit, a run-scoring groundout, and a two-run single to Omar Infante.

Washington's bullpen, mind you, has a 6.32 ERA since August 25. In 29 games, it's allowed runs in all but three of them. MacDougal is a big part of the recent problem. His September numbers: 10 G, 9-1/3 IP, 11 BB, 7 K, .405 opp AVG, 11.57 ERA.

Still, this game should have never gone into extra innings.

Washington somehow failed to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh despite a leadoff Willie Harris triple. (Ian Desmond grounded weakly to first, Zimmerman walked, then Willingham and Elijah Dukes struck out.)

Earlier, in the fourth, Atlanta only scored its first two runs because of an opportunity created from a Willingham throwing mistake. Here's what happened: The frame started with back-to-back singles, putting runners on first and second. The next batter, Brian McCann, popped up to left field. Willingham made the catch, but uncorked a flabby, high throw to third base. A low throw that could have been cut off, or a throw directly to second, would have been far preferable. As it happened, both runners tagged, moving to second and third. Had runners been on first and third, Garret Anderson's subsequent hard groundout to short would have been an inning-ending double play.

Instead, the Nats got the second out of the inning on Anderson's 6-3, and then Yunel Escobar got a two-run triple.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 27, 2009; 6:11 PM ET
 
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Next: The Ongoing Bullpen Saga

Comments

I got new-posted, but I want people to stop saying we're 50 games under .500.

They have played 155 games. .500 would be roughly 78-78. We've won 52 games. 78-52=26. Thus we are less than *26* games below .500

It's not great, but it's not 50 games under 500. Sheesh, people.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 27, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut

in the words of the great bill parcells, you are what your record says you are. the nats are 51 games under .500.

Posted by: surly_w | September 27, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

tHIS TEAM WIL NEVER GET BETTER WITH THE CURRENT OWNERS THEY F'IN STINK...

Posted by: jp14710 | September 27, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

man, have you checked out the bile and hostility on RI just because they lost a game to the sorry, no account detroit lions? glad there's more civility on this blog.

Posted by: surly_w | September 27, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

<It's not great, but it's not 50 games under 500. Sheesh, people.

<Posted by: NatsNut | September 27, 2009 6:25 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You're absolutely right. It's now 51 games under .500.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 27, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

surly, they don't play 206 games.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 27, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

okay, somebody please explain how we're 51 games under .500, because it doesn't make sense.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 27, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

This post is verging on the Boswellian.

Posted by: mgilham | September 27, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

NN

last time I checked 52-103 is 51 games or 25.5 lengths under .500. whatever form of math works best for you.

Posted by: surly_w | September 27, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...yea, Surly-you are spot on! I mean, we have our moments, but there is also more than a fair share of insight and intelligent discussion here. But Great Googly-Mooglies. almost nothing BUT bile over in 4-Skin land! Then again, maybe we've had enough practice to get rid of most of our bile. Also, we're not losing to AAA teams-we ARE the AAA team!
But they're ours!
Go Nats.....

Posted by: zendo | September 27, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

again, THEY DON'T PLAY 206 GAMES!!!

oh well. you are surly, so i'll let you stick with the 51. As for me, I'm staying with 25.5, thank you very much.

R

Posted by: NatsNut | September 27, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

It's semantics when citing how far over or under .600 a team's record is. For example, in 1963 the Senators finished 56-106, or in common baseball speak 50 games under .500. Actually since a .500 record in a 182-game season is 81-81 the team actually was 25 lengths under the break-even mark as 56 + 25 = 81. Just as when a team is 100-62 they are said to have finished 38 games better than .500, when actually they are 19 lengths above break even. I guess baseball is used to subtracting the smaller number from the larger number to get the "over or under .500" determination.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 27, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

NN

here i thought we were getting along so well. love ya anyway.

Posted by: surly_w | September 27, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

NN

While your maths may (and in fact IS) correct, 50 under five hundred feels more accurate and therefore is.

Got it?

Posted by: soundbloke | September 27, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

nope.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 27, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

pitchforks, torches, tar and feathers tonight in ashburn?

Posted by: surly_w | September 27, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

SURLY W: LOL, I showed my wife and daughter your post they cracked up!

Posted by: dargregmag | September 27, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm just saying NN that you shouldn't let being totally, mathematically and demonstrably right get in the way of another other peoples self-flagellation.

It makes them happy. ;)

Posted by: soundbloke | September 27, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Honorable Mention for blowing today's game goes to Elijah Dukes. 0-5, 2 Ks, and with 5 runners LOB today.

Posted by: ImWithStupid | September 27, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut is 100% correct.

If they had won 28 more games, they'd be at .500.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 27, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we know the Nats stink, but at least I'm not Jim Zorn tonight....

Posted by: bromisky | September 27, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

is it fair to say zorn is the manny acta of snyderville?

Posted by: surly_w | September 27, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

@Meridian1

Actually if the Nats HAG won 28 more games they would 80-75 going into the last week of the season.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 27, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Have to admit I like NatsNut's math better.

As far as the Redskins and RI. Sheesh it was pretty clear from the outset of the offseason that this team was on the verge? Why get bent about it?

Keith Law of ESPN does not appear to think much of prospects Detwiler and Ian Desmond. As far as Desmond's bat he usually takes a little time to adjust at the next level.

As far as Mike Morse hitting a homerun. The guy was born in 1982 and was a top prospect in Seattle's system Chico. I suspect that given a chance he might prove his bat far superior to Willingham's? Its possible could be a 30 home run guy in the majors. Like Dukes he has a "past". His involves the use of steroids. Maybe he would have done a better job at 3rd base in yesterday's game? Instead of Orr? I'm not sure he should play second but I do think they should give him a chance to compete for a starting position in spring training?

Posted by: periculum | September 27, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

It may seem strange but I believe its definitely better to be a Nats fan than a Redskins fan at this point, givem the direction of both teams.

Posted by: periculum | September 27, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut

Games under .500 is the number of wins it would take that team to reach the .500 mark. So with a record of 52-103, the Nats need 51 wins to reach the .500 level, thus they are 51 games under .500

Posted by: KenzAFan | September 27, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I was distressed in the bottom of the 8th when Harris was stranded after his lead off triple. Then I realized that if he had scored MacDougal would have pitched the ninth for another blown save. Too bad they couldn't win it in the bottom of the ninth and avoid another Mac Attack. Getting rid of MacDougal (and Dukes) will be more addition by subtaction. His save total is misleading -- rarely has an appearance without walks, wild pitch or today, the HBP. From what I read about Dukes he believes his own BS about how great he is -- will never progress with that attitude.

Posted by: SackMan | September 27, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"okay, somebody please explain how we're 51 games under .500, because it doesn't make sense."

You would have to add 51 wins to their current total to get them to .500. Ergo, they are 51 games under .500. This method may not make sense to you mathematically, but it is the convention for determining games over/under .500 since time immemorial. Don't question it, just accept it, and move on.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 27, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

> is it fair to say zorn is the manny acta of snyderville?

That would be an insult to Manny Acta.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 27, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Jon Jansen must be the happiest man in Detroit tonight.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 27, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I always liked looking at this 'games under .500' issue.

If the Nats kept playing, they would need to win 51 straight times to make the break even point. Obviously there is only 162 games....

But, HAD the Nats won 26 of those games they lost, they would be 78-77 right now.

So, their improvement to get to .500 would be not to lose those 26 games in the first place. Seems a 26 game improvement is easier to take on than a 51 game improvement.

Posted by: dand187 | September 27, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

> So, their improvement to get to .500 would be not to lose those 26 games in the first place.

They can't go back in time and undo previous losses. Therefore they would need to win 51 more games than they lose from here on out in order to reach .500, making them 51 games under .500. Makes perfect sense.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 27, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Well at least they topped last year!
Last year they lost 102 - this year they lost 103! They set a NEW RECORD!

Posted by: jeff-in-dc | September 27, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Have 3 DC sports teams lost in such temporal proximity as today? Skins around 4:15, Nats at 4:45? (not sure), DCU at 5. An ignominious day it was.

Posted by: paulkp | September 27, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

That is why I said: "their improvement to get to .500 would be to not lose those 26 games in the first place."

The 162 games is statistically a closed system. The '51 games under' argument assumes an open system. Technically you are however correct - they have lost 51 more games than they have won. BUT, had they won 26 of those - they would be over 500. So the improvement is not 51 games, the improvement is 26 within the closed system.

And those 26 games/6months is 4 games per month - roughly.

So if the Nats had won 4 games more per month, they would be right about .500

Posted by: dand187 | September 27, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Joe Bugel will manage the Nats next year ... :)

Posted by: periculum | September 28, 2009 2:30 AM | Report abuse

GOOD THING WE FIRED THAT LAZY BUM MANNY ACTA.

Posted by: Section506 | September 28, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

506

I remember you getting made fun of pretty mercilessly because you advocated keeping Manny. The effect Riggleman was little more than the Bonafacio Effect in disguise.

This team is moving forward but I'm not sure what anyone expected from a GM introduced a week before the season, with a manager who had a team of scraps.

Posted by: soundbloke | September 28, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm with NatsNut in thinking that the method for determining games under/over .500 does not make sense. I understand what y'all are trying to say, but I don't have to agree with the methodology. ;-)

(p.s. Hi, kenzafan.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 28, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I liked that, 506. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 28, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I was at the Nats game yesterday, BinM.

---

Where is everybody - Watching the deadskins game?

Posted by: BinM | September 27, 2009 2:07 PM

I don't care who you are, that's funny. :-)

---

and before NatsNut gets back, let me just say that "i.e." is short for "id est"--"that is", and "e.g." -- exempli gratia -- means "for example.
Just because it's the end of the season doesn't mean I'm going to quit being a professional pita.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 27, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

although I do still have an opening for a proofreader, apparently.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 27, 2009 1:22 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 28, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

So, the thing that got me most was when everyone said "fire Manny, it can't get any worse."

Manny Acta: 26-61 (.299)
Jim Riggelman: 26-42 (.382)

Hey, they were right!

Not really. Here's the record split with and without Nyjer Morgan.

With 22-26 (.458)
Without 30-77 (.280)

It's personnel, not managing, that makes the biggest difference over 162 games in your season.

Posted by: Section506 | September 28, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

A question for all the loyal NJers/Nats Fans: a friend and I wanted to get down to the Park today in time to see the Nats take batting practice. How early do you suggest we get there?

Posted by: NatMeg | September 28, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I think that the center field gate opens 2.5 hours before game time, but the Nats take their BP before the visitors, so not sure whether you'll get to see them.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 28, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The whole idea of opening the one gate in center field 2.5 hours before game time was to allow fans to see Nats BP, so presumably if you get there when that gate opens you'll get to see at least part of it. I know from experience that if you come in when all the gates open 1.5 hours before game they're already getting into visitors BP.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 28, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

>NatsNut

Games under .500 is the number of wins it would take that team to reach the .500 mark. So with a record of 52-103, the Nats need 51 wins to reach the .500 level, thus they are 51 games under .500

Posted by: KenzAFan

What she fails to understand is that if they don't win a game, they not only don't get the win, but they accumulate a loss. It's just like if the team you are chasing doesn't play that day, and you win, you only pick up a half game. The other team would have to lose in order for you to pick up a full game. This is the stuff you learn when you're nine. It's not about the number of wins, it's about the number of losses, because you can never make up a loss - it's always there.

Posted by: Brue | September 28, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...just had to say it was nice to see 506 posting....as well as some other handles from WAY back in....oh, whenever. Of course it's always great to see the rest of you regular contributors as well.Yea...Manny or no, the problems on this team run deep and wide...between the Slow Lerners and "help the Lions off the Shneid"-er...we appear to have both ends of the dysfunctional ownership spectrum covered.And after watching the 'Skins yesterday (Pops has had enough Nats) I gotta say that I'm more encouraged by the Nats' prospects for the future than the beleaguered Redskins.
Will we win any more games this year? And as I've noted before,what saddens me the most is that a player like Zim-who in my estimation could be the next "face" of the game a la Cal or Jeter or Pujols-is gonna be stuck here with...well, fill in the blanks.Until this year, I wasn't one of those in the bag for Zimm, either; but his play and demeanor lead me to think he's the real deal.Seeing the disgust on his face and in his body language at the last game I went to-the 14-2 blowout to L.A.-(Adam had to come across the diamond to remind him that this years' misery is almost over)made me realize on a visceral level just how good he is, how much he wants to win and just how far we have to go.That's not to say that some off-season spending couldn't drastically alter our outlook-in fact, I'd argue that the Lerners almost have to do it or risk damage so monumental that we become perennially pitiful.See, they didn't spend when they should have-and now it'll cost gobs more just to make up for past mistakes.Don't jettison player development-double up on that,too.Start running this organization like it's in the Nations Capital, a top 10 media market...with plenty of disaffected fans of a certain other local franchise ready to jump ship!
Make us the jewel you promised...a perennial contender with a payroll to match(a SANE one, of course!)that's in the discussion with the A.L. east-coast behemoths.And you'll be as loved as Dan is reviled!Richer than Croesus!The airport will be re-re-named for you!Think of Scrooges' transformation after he "got it"! Oh please please PLEASE!!!
Go Nats.....

Posted by: zendo | September 28, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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