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Padres 3, Nats 1

Maybe the Nats have reached the point this season where no loss should be described as unconventional. They've lost 86 games now. Said outcome is not unusual.

That said, Monday night's 3-1 loss against the Padres at Petco had some strange twists. I'll list 'em.

1.) Livan Hernandez threw an eight-inning complete game, at one point retiring 13 in a row and 17 of 18. He threw just 90 pitches. So naturally, this dazzling effort earned him the loss. (Most of the damage came early. Four of the first five reached base in San Diego's two-run first, an inning that included a bunt single and a David Eckstein double where Elijah Dukes almost collided in foul territory with Nats' bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo.)

2.) Hernandez reached base two times, scoring Washington's only run. But it was the other at bat -- when he tried to bunt with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth -- that proved costly. Hernandez dropped a Tim Stauffer cutter right back to the mound. The San Diego righty underhanded the ball home. The catcher threw to first. That was a 1-2-3 DP; inning over.

Yikes.

That bunt was entirely Hernandez's call. Nobody instructed him to drop one down.

"He decided to bunt," Jim Riggleman said. "That kind of took everybody by surprise. So that being the case, he just didn't bunt it where he wanted to bunt the ball. He kind of got handcuffed by the pitch a little bit... If he had to do it over, I'm sure he'd swing the bat."

Said Hernandez: "He threw me a nasty cutter down, and I tried to tie the game. It's not happening. The ball, it goes straight to the pitcher, and the guy made a good play."

3.) The Nats, on this night, fielded a lineup that seemed particularly weak at the top and bottom. So naturally, everybody chipped in except Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. That 3-4-5 trio went 1-for-12 with five strikeouts. By the time Zimmerman got his fifth inning single, everybody else in the lineup had already reached base.

4.) San Diego hung on to this game with its defense. In the seventh, Wil Nieves led off the frame by trying to stretch a single into a double, but was thrown out on a strike by right fielder Will Venable. Then, with one aboard, San Diego left fielder Oscar Salazar turned in the play of the night. Willie Harris crushed a 1-1 pitch from Stauffer toward the Petco warning track. Salazar chased, running head-first toward the wall, craning his neck toward the sky. He looked up, up, up. He held his mitt like an open basket. The ball dropped in his mitt. He smacked into the wall. He rolled to the ground, and left the game with a bruised left knee. Of course he also recorded the game's most critical out.

"I thought for sure it was going to be a knock, but he made a good play," Harris said. "Kind of took the breath out of us right there. It was an amazing play."

5.) The strangest thing of all: Salazar is actually a first baseman. Before this game, Salazar had played a total of 2-1/3 innings in left field as a big leaguer. This was his first-ever outfield start.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 1, 2009; 1:21 AM ET
 
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Next: Regarding Strasburg, Hype and Media Attention

Comments

A good idea by Livo, esp since he is at high risk for a DP in that situation. Of course, he is such a good hitter, it would have been fun to see him hit in that situation. One of my favorite moments as a young Yankee fan was watching Mel Stottlemyre hit an inside-the-park grand slam to deep LCF in the old Yankee Stadium.

Boy, we really could have used some Belliard last night!

Posted by: paulkp | September 1, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

... I see this morning that some Post writer is lamenting the fact that S. S. has a problem with the media. Well boo-hoo for the writer. Things are getting just a little bit out of whack in sports, it seems to me. Who says that any athlete, professional or not, superstar or not, has to make time for media hounds dogging her or his every step? No fan that I know of.

... leave the kid alone and if a relationship with him turns out to be a bit of work for journalists, writers, and ENG guys, so be it. Fans are interested on his exploits 'on the mound', not 'in the shower'.

... remember Lefty Carleton? He did okay without giving hounding scribes and media wretches a whole lot of attention.

Go Stephen!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | September 1, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

ah, is this the Curse of the Belliard? Will we never win another game now that we've traded him?

Posted by: twinbrook | September 1, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

And there goes our winning August.

I think the Nats started out August last year as a hot team, fooling us all into thinking we might avoid the cellar. Of course, by year's end, we were there, next to the Christmas decorations and the hot water heater.

86 losses so far, and seven more series against teams with playoff aspirations. With 30 games to go, the Nats need to win 15 to avoid last year's 102-loss mark.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 1, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

They've lost the spark aka NMorgan.

Posted by: charley42 | September 1, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

uh... Tony Plush.

Posted by: charley42 | September 1, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The Feinstein column on Strasburg strikes me as premature and maybe off base. Even as described, Strasburg's remarks sound more like innocent banter than serious complaint, and I'd want to see a pattern of objectionable behavior before unloading on him like that. At the risk of being equally unfair to Feinstein, it looks almost as if he was waiting to run a column like that, and took the first opportunity he saw.

Posted by: KenNat | September 1, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I agree with KenNat. I think Feinstein came in to the article with the Tiger Woods quote and was looking for a chance to use it. Compare that store to the other one by Amy Shipley.

Posted by: twinbrook | September 1, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

That, too. I think Livo and Petey are alive because they came in post-Nyjer and are battling for their jobs. Just about everyone else looks about as broken as TP's hand.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
uh... Tony Plush.

Posted by: charley42 | September 1, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 1, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Feinstein, Baseball, Really?

Why now? Thane Nats now have been in DC for 5 Years, 800 plus games, and Feinstein finally writes a baseball article and this is it.

I smell junket? Wanted an expenses paid trip to Florida perhaps.

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 1, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I go out of the country for a week and you all turn over the whole roster! What the heck? I hope at least someone has noted that this game was clearly the result of Belliard being traded.

Posted by: Section506 | September 1, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I am inclined to agree with natscan re. Strasburg.

Re. the (non)Belli effect, I'm more inclined to think it's the (non)Morgan effect.

Confidential to JiM, the OP has a retrospective piece on the Metrodome.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I didn't think much of the Feinstein article. What's your point? A waste of pixels (and ink, if any used), IMO.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 1, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

In other news, I was selfishly hoping that Livo would get to start on Saturday, but the team site's "probable pitchers" update indicates that it will be Mock. Nothing against Mock - I just wanted to be part of the Welcome Back Livo Committee for his first home start. I'll be at Nats Park on Saturday but have P-Nats tix for Sunday (Lannan bobblehead day).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why the Nats aren't playing on Labor Day. Are the potatoes playing or something?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 1, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Don't know but it's strange scheduling, isn't it?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Yes. I have the day off, and I would definitely go, and probably bring a party.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 1, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The P-Nats, OTOH, will be playing at home, and it's a day game...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I've never been there. Maybe I will take a field trip...

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 1, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

You should check it out. It's a very fan-friendly venue, IMO.

In other news, I liked this, Chico:

"It looked like the Padres were swinging at shuttlecocks."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Steve Carlton was and is a creep, natscanreduxit. The reporters are just trying to do what they're paid to do, so you and I can read about the players. Carlton shunned them, and thus the fans. He still charges huge amounts to sign autographs when other players, such as Hondo, don't.

Did I mention I don't like Carlton? I'm glad you botched his name.

Posted by: nats24 | September 1, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Belliard, Belliard, where for art thou Ronnie Belliard? When we need you most?

Carlton? Hmmm, well there's Neal Armstrong ... he is even worst and the guy was the first man on the moon. Certainly NASA and the space program could use the amount of clout he carries as one of the very brightest and best. Yet like Robert E. Lee he demurs.

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Redux is right.

What Strasburg has to do to endear himself to the fans, who pay his wages incidentally, is be gracious at events, work hard, develop a change-up, keep his era below 4 and average 6 innings.

His relationship with the overly entitled press corps is of no interest to anyone but the overly entitled press corps.

Posted by: soundbloke | September 1, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with nats24 on Super Steve. A Super Creep. Weird guy. I covered the Phils, circa 1973-74, when Super first decided to blow off the media. This had two effects, one everlasting. Nobody got to report how weird this guy is. Two, we have Tim McCarver as a result of this guy. Because Super didn't talk, we all had to go to his personal catcher, McCarver, who believe me was no fountain of information either. But McC eventually got used to the media, warmed up a bit and, voila, we got the McCarverization of America as a result. If Steve had talked, nobody would have ever noticed his dopey catcher.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | September 1, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"McCarver, who believe me was no fountain of information either. But McC eventually got used to the media, warmed up a bit and, voila, we got the McCarverization of America as a result. If Steve had talked, nobody would have ever noticed his dopey catcher.

Posted by: jdschulz50"

That has to be one of the most interesting and provocative sports tid-bits ever posted here. So, that's why McCarver ended up on TV. Okay how in heck did a third string, crappy catcher like Joe Garagiola get that big?

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Not sure if someone already mentioned this or not, but Belli homered in his first at-bat as a Dodger last night.

Posted by: BGinVA | September 1, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"Not sure if someone already mentioned this or not, but Belli homered in his first at-bat as a Dodger last night.

Posted by: BGinVA | September 1, 2009"

Yes, just to stick in our eye ... that we lost our good luck mojo.

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

When your leadoff hitter who was hitting a robust .350 since comming from Pitts.is replaced by a .223 hitter that's a problem hey i like Willie a lot but he's no Nyjer and then your 3-4-5 hitters can't get a hit when it counts that's a recepie for a losing streak, a long one, ahhhh Riggs don't start shopping for a house just yet.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 1, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

A bunt there on his own is a guaranteed double play if it is fielded. it was not a squeeze. the runner from 3d was a dead duck, and livo runs like a live duck.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | September 1, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Not necessarily. If he bunts it up the first base line, it would take a damn good play to get a double play. Heck, assuming the third baseman was holding the runner, if he bunts it up the third base line it won't be that bad either.

As soon as he squares to bunt, everyone is going to start running. They don't need to hear the ball actually being hit. There'll be plenty of time for the third base runner to get home if it was properly executed.

Posted by: swang30 | September 1, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are just so paper thin, and that coupled with a couple of guys hitting over their career norms for a while who are now not protected and falling back to earth, would explain why the future is still very bleak for this team. I really think they are what they are - a really lousy team. Those that believe that a FA here and there and a couple of trades will make this club competitive are really delusional. We need a lot of patience, and some good luck just to make to .500 in the next 2-3 years. By then some of the young position players in the low minors may start to produce.

Posted by: bendersx6 | September 1, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

If Hernandez runs the bases like a duck, did Baerga run them like a duck out of water? I have fond memories of that one game where he chugged around the bases while Castilla and the dugout laughed uproariously.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Baerga ran more like a penguin, I think.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 1, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

And if it isn't, somebody is out, especially if the pitch is unhittable and he pulls the bat back. That's why they call it suicide. Everyone has to be in on that if it's going to work--doing it on his own, and then not getting it down the line or past the pitcher, was a bad, bad mistake.
*********
As soon as he squares to bunt, everyone is going to start running. They don't need to hear the ball actually being hit. There'll be plenty of time for the third base runner to get home if it was properly executed.
Posted by: swang30 | September 1, 2009 1:14 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 1, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, but remember that the next time someone is ranting about how the Post doesn't get enough information our way.

****************
His relationship with the overly entitled press corps is of no interest to anyone but the overly entitled press corps.
Posted by: soundbloke | September 1, 2009 12:20 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 1, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

"The Nats are just so paper thin, and that coupled with a couple of guys hitting over their career norms for a while who are now not protected and falling back to earth, would explain why the future is still very bleak for this team."

Its a balancing act for Rizzo. You have to give it up to the guy. He is keeping the better hitting plus fielding prospects down in the minors getting their at bats right to the end.

Rizzo did bring up Mike Morse who has a big major league level stick. His problem is according to all sources is that he is better at 1st and 3rd or DH against AL teams. If there was a way to get him into the lineup you would might see the offense reawaken. Where do you put him?

Now with 17 errors just with Syracuse Ian Desmond begins to look more like a second baseman, maybe 3rd and outfield. In other words another Mike Morse who used to play shortstop for the Mariners his first and only organization before the Nats.

Who do you call?

Danny Espinosa? He really can field. And he appears to be developing at least as big a stick as poor fielding Chris Marerro!!!! Wow! The problem is he needs to go through the AFL, perhaps AA/AAA next year first? Or can you do as was done with Ryan Zimmerman? Bring him up and let him adjust to MLB hitting while you take advantage of his fielding?

As far as Morgan is concerned Daniel is looking pretty good ... Maybe they would have just brought up Norris Hopper who (if recovered from Tommy Johns) is a good "slap hitting" major league level hitter and reasonable fielder in center and right. But do you take more away from Syracuse who was in the midst of the IL playoff hunt? Having already taken three of their bats in Padilla, Morse, and Dukes? And Mike Daniel is looking good in center field for SYR. He is hitting for average and extra bases. He has a left handed bat.

Do they go back to experimenting with prospects as was done with the pitching staff? Two outings of Livan Hernandez has proven just how ineffective those prospects have been!?

What's the right balance?

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Redux is right.

What Strasburg has to do to endear himself to the fans, who pay his wages incidentally, is be gracious at events, work hard, develop a change-up, keep his era below 4 and average 6 innings.

Posted by: soundbloke

*************

I sort of agree with this too. And don't forget (to quote ihw) Strasburg should "work quickly and throw strikes" to endear himself to us.

Although I appreciate Amy Shipley's coverage immensely, I cringed when I read her article on him.

I'd rather the media chill for awhile, leave the kid alone and let him get to work. Wait to accost him when he's up and performing.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 1, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"OK, but remember that the next time someone is ranting about how the Post doesn't get enough information our way."

There are two distinct but related problems with the Post, namely

(a) the Post doesn't get enough information our way about baseball in general and the Nats in particular, and

(b) much of what information the Post does deem worthy of getting our way about baseball in general and the Nats in particular is not information we need or want to be getting, e.g. the Feinstein-Strasburg piece.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 1, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm a minimalist. I believe Strasburg should exactly what has made him so successful up to this point ... and it was his sparkling personality, his gracious manners.

It was intense hyperfocusing on learning to pitch as opposed to just "throwing". Focusing on his craft, refining it, perfecting it. That's what I would like to see. That should take precedence over all the other horse hockey fan foo. Hire him a publicist if that's important.

Focus on pitching. Listen and learn the trade and craft. Improve with every inning, every pitch.

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

REPOST with corrections:

I'm a minimalist. I believe Strasburg should do exactly what has made him so successful up to this point ... and it WASN'T his sparkling personality, his gracious manners.


It was intense hyper-focusing on learning to pitch as opposed to just "throwing". Focusing on his craft, refining it, perfecting it. That's what I would like to see. That should take precedence over all the other horse hockey fan foo. Hire him a publicist if that's important.

Focus on pitching. Listen and learn the trade, craft and lore from the gray beards. Improve with every inning, every pitch.

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry I haven't been on the posts in a couple days. I just want to express my sentiments on no longer having to look at SeƱor Belliard in a Nationals uniform.

THAAAAAAAAAANK YOU JESUS CHRISTO, ALLAH, BUDDAH, JEHOVA, AND ANYONE ELSE ASSOCIATED WITH PERMITTING THE STARS TO LINE UP CORRECTLY ON ONE BLESSED, BLESSED NIGHT!

May god bless you Mr. Rizzo.

Sincerely grateful,
Me.

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | September 1, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Very good, sec3!

---

Baerga ran more like a penguin, I think.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 1, 2009 1:36 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

My sofa.

I have never really had any complaints. The blog world still spins my head in the volume and volume of it's coverage.

Posted by: soundbloke | September 1, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Guys and Gals,

Zimm, despite being hailed as the FotF, was exceedingly quiet until last year and this year. I didn't (and don't) see a problem with that. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, and not everyone needs to be a leader. As long as SS performs well and up to expectations, what's wrong with that? (And no, expectations does not mean a 20 game winner next year.)

Incidentally, I didn't see what was so bad about the Feinstein article on SS, nor do I see anything bad about the article a couple of weeks ago on Nats significant others. They were nice and useful color pieces, I think it's nice to know.

Posted by: swang30 | September 1, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

That's "wherefore," and it means "why." Juliet is asking why he's a Montague ("Deny thy father and refuse thy name"), not where he is.

It's like Elizabethan for "how come."

(Hey, we do have Bard on our team, after all.)

-----

Belliard, Belliard, where for art thou Ronnie Belliard? When we need you most?

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 1, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of coverage, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Or should I say: But, soft! What light through yonder [Microsoft] window breaks?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 1, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"He is well spoken in English, meetly well in French, and very perfect in Flemish; he can write and read. His name is John of Minnepolis..."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 1, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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