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A good start and early end for Craig Stammen

There was a lot Craig Stammen liked about his start Thursday in the Nationals' 5-4 loss to the Giants. He allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, by far his best start on the road. He recorded 15 of his 19 outs with groundballs, not including an error on a grounder by Adam Dunn. As he exited the game, the Nationals were winning and he had a shot at his second win this year, his first since April 19.

What Stammen didn't like about his start is when he left. With one out in the seventh, the Nats up by 4-2 and a runner on third, Manager Jim Riggleman pulled Stammen after 85 pitches in favor of Sean Burnett. Riggleman wanted Burnett to face Nate Schierholtz, a left-handed pinch-hitter. Burnett allowed a pair of hits on tough breaks, and the game unraveled while Stammen watched.

Afterward, Stammen didn't fume or throw a tantrum or even blame Riggleman. But he was honest - he didn't want to, or think he should, leave the game.

"Yes, I would have liked to be left in," Stammen said. "But if you polled every single pitcher in here, I'm sure they would say the same thing. Jim knows what he's doing. He takes pitchers out every single game. He makes that decision. He gets paid to make that decision. There's no second-guessing. Who's to say I would have got the next guy out? I think in my head I would have gotten him out. But that's the way it is."

Stammen had to find solace that he had pitched well. He entered the game with a 5.96 ERA, third-highest in the National League. Stephen Strasburg is going to replace someone when he arrives, and Stammen had verged on making himself a candidate.

"He probably hasn't pitched like he can," Riggleman said of Stammen before the game. "He's thrown the ball well. The ball is coming off his hand good. He's just not pitching the way he can pitch. We've got a lot of confidence in him. As much as anybody we send out there, when we put him out there we think he's got a chance to shut hitters down. We're still waiting for it to all come together."

Mostly, it came together Thursday. He allowed five hits and walked three and surrendered a home run to Aubrey Huff on the first pitch of the fourth inning. Stammen figured Huff would be taking, so he threw a fastball down the middle.

Stammen's start encouraged him, too, because it was first quality start away from Nationals Park. He entered with a staggering 9.92 ERA in road starts. "It's good to finally pitch well on the road," Stammen said. He would have preferred a win.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 27, 2010; 8:38 PM ET
Categories:  Craig Stammen , Pitching rotation , Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: The going is still tough for the Washington Nationals

Comments

It's been over an hour since Adam posted this article...so I'm surprised that I may be FIRST!

Unfortunately, despite AK's article and Stammen pitching into the 6th...I only want to weigh in with the opinion that Stammen is no longer worthy of a Nats starting position.

BP or Syracuse are the only choices for Riggs/Rizzocregarding Stammen. Martin/English/etc. are equal at the big show level.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | May 27, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

The next few days should be interesting, at least in terms of roster makeup. JD Martin looks like the logical callup from SYR to fill in for Olsen, but who goes down when Strasburg finally gets the call?
Also hoping that Morse can get at least one start against SD, since the team should be facing two LHSP in LeBlanc & Richard.

Posted by: BinM | May 27, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

@1BCoach:
It looks like Atilano, JD Martin & Stammen will all be on 10-day contracts from now until Strasburg gets called up. They've all got options remaining, so that's not an issue - It should come down to pure performance. I'd still give a slight edge to Stammen over the other two, but that's just my opinion.

Posted by: BinM | May 27, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Kilgore, please read this message! I need to find someone in the media to spread this. No I'm not crazy, I'm greatly disappointed in the treatment of fans by the Nats. So I bought tickets for 10 dollars for me and a couple of friends a month in advance, we got the worst seats but knew we were gambling and figured, hey even if Strasburg doesn't pitch, it'll still be fun. however, my family is also going to that game, but they waited till last Monday to buy tickets. The only tickets left were two 35 dollar sections. i bought the tickets for my family and figured it was worth it, as that point Steven Strasburg starting seemed pretty likely. When I found out he wouldn't start I was upset, yes, but figured thats what happens when you gamble. But then, as I did some investigation, I got extremely angry. This is because I found out the Nats were apparently hiding cheap seats because they figured people would rather get cheap seats but, it was worth it to the fans for them to buy expensive seats to likely see this special event. I know this because when I went on the Nats website, all sections are now available to buy tickets for. I even clicked on the cheap seats and managed to buy 12 tickets together, even though I could only get four together a month in advance and only two sections were available Monday. It strictly says that there are no refunds nor exchanges so I wonder where these extra tickets "magically" appeared from. Please look in to this because I hope that I'm wrong, but if this is true, it is a terrible way for a team to treat their fans.

Posted by: samdman95 | May 27, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Kilgore, please read this message! I need to find someone in the media to spread this. No I'm not crazy, I'm greatly disappointed in the treatment of fans by the Nats. So I bought tickets for 10 dollars for me and a couple of friends a month in advance, we got the worst seats but knew we were gambling and figured, hey even if Strasburg doesn't pitch, it'll still be fun. however, my family is also going to that game, but they waited till last Monday to buy tickets. The only tickets left were two 35 dollar sections. I bought the tickets for my family and figured it was worth it, as that point Steven Strasburg starting seemed pretty likely. When I found out he wouldn't start I was upset, yes, but figured thats what happens when you gamble. But then, as I did some investigation, I got extremely angry. This is because I found out the Nats were apparently hiding cheap seats because they figured people would rather get cheap seats but, it was worth it to the fans for them to buy expensive seats to likely see this special event. I know this because when I went on the Nats website, all sections are now available to buy tickets for. I even clicked on the cheap seats and managed to buy 12 tickets together, even though I could only get four together a month in advance and only two sections were available Monday. It strictly says that there are no refunds nor exchanges so I wonder where these extra tickets "magically" appeared from. Please look in to this because I hope that I'm wrong, but if this is true, it is a terrible way for a team to treat their fans.

Posted by: samdman95 | May 27, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

sorry for the double post- my comp was being all weird

Posted by: samdman95 | May 27, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

samdman, I find your saga 100% believable. Nothing that StanK or this team's business office does surprises me anymore.

Posted by: Sunderland | May 27, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Sandman 95 >

Sorry. That's really just a "will you have whine with your cheese" story. If you have read anything at all, the FO has said "don't buy". They are not guaranteeing Strasburg's debut. It's really a case of buyer beware and that's a fundamental principal behind commerce in America. Whether or not there were seats available: you were speculating and you lost.

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | May 27, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Bad decision by Riggleman.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | May 28, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Whoa, that's weird. Samdman95 is right, suddenly there are tons of tickets left in pretty much all the sections. I just checked and was able to get up to 12 seats in sections that yesterday were unavailable. Where'd these come from?

Posted by: beardo1 | May 28, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Re tickets, I just checked this morning and found the situation to be as Samdman95 described. I bought four tickets online for 6/4 game and had to settle for seats way down the RF line, not in preferred 300 Section seats behind home plate, which were supposedly sold out. (Already had tickets for 6/6 and 6/10.) Now great seats for four are available in Section 314. Not whining: just curious how seats that had been unavailable are suddenly available. I've asked the point man for our (partial) season tickets' group to contact our sales rep to get an answer.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | May 28, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Dan Steinberg has been following the availability of tickets to the June 4 game on his "Bog" (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2010/05/the_june_4_near-sellout.html#more). Yesterday, Steinberg re-twitted this message from @NatsTix: As we get closer to gamedays, we release seats that we have reserved for ticket plan sales.

I have two options to state on this:

1) The Nats never confirmed nor denied that Strasburg would be pitching on the 4th. It was a crap shoot to buy tickets for his debut. It was the media that was hyping the June 4 date.

2) On the other hand it seems fishy that all these tickets would become available for Jun 4, the day after Strasburg's debut is announced for a different day.

Posted by: kjhealey | May 28, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

The sudden availability of tickets previously declared to be unavailable requires explanation.

When the Nats tell someone that specific tickets are not available, the implication is that the tickets have been sold. If those tickets become available later, it looks like the team has lied -- perhaps withholding cheap tickets to steer demand to expensive tickets.

Instead, could it be that the Nats do not sell tickets for entire sections (usually upper deck) for games where attendance is expected to be low? In that case, "unavailable" does not translate to "sold out." But if demand picks up, the closed sections should open up before no seats are left in that lower price range. Samdman apparently was told that only more expensive seats were left.

This is not about whether Strasburg starts or not. It's about whether the Nats are being honest with their fans and customers. The explanation needs to be a good one.

Posted by: KenNat | May 28, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Again Riggleman's second guessing cost a starter a win when will Riggleman learn? not until it cost him his job hindsight is always 20-20 but why not leave him in the game,listen he's pitched to Schierholtz twice, Riggleman should have left Stammen in the game!!! let him win or lose his own game stop with the pitch count bullsh#t it's the most overated stat in baseball, and bring back Randy St.Claire McCatty's a joke St.Claire was the fall guy for Acta's ineptitude and i'm done with the Maxwell project this kid is either scared or can't hit the broadside of a barn while inside the barn just venting folks.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 28, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

i think Riggs just messed up the order of how he should have used the bullpen, def should have brought in slaten instead of burnett, then again its not like the Giants were hitting rockets. Just a tough loss, even the good teams lose about 60 a year.

Posted by: jpt1002 | May 28, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"Whoa, that's weird. Samdman95 is right, suddenly there are tons of tickets left in pretty much all the sections. I just checked and was able to get up to 12 seats in sections that yesterday were unavailable. Where'd these come from?"

Rightly or wrongly, the Nats do not make all tickets to any game available online in the weeks and months leading up to it. They always hold back seats for possible sale as part of ticket packages, such as season tickets (which they are still selling on a pro-rated basis) or mini-plans, and possibly so that they will have seats available to service requests from season ticket holders wanting to redeem their Red Carpet Rewards or exchange tickets from other games (which is a season ticket holder benefit not available to single-game ticket buyers). But at some point prior to the game, they determine that they're not going to sell any more packages that include that game, and they release the seats they've been holding back and make them available to single-game ticket buyers. Normally no one notices that they do this, but in the case of this artificially created buying frenzy for 6/4 what obviously happened yesterday was that all the available tickets for that game were snapped up quickly, and suddenly they were faced with the need to release the tickets they had been holding back, which they did. Looks suspicious, but only because this game which otherwise wouldn't have mattered suddenly was thrust into the limelight and their regular ticket office procedures clearly aren't set up to handle that.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 28, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"When the Nats tell someone that specific tickets are not available, the implication is that the tickets have been sold. If those tickets become available later, it looks like the team has lied -- perhaps withholding cheap tickets to steer demand to expensive tickets."

The Nats sell tickets in a lot of different ways. Season tickets, miniplans, group sales, single game tickets. Not all these options are available to online buyers, and some of them (group sales) require blocks of seats to be sold together. Which naturally means that they will need to hold blocks of seats out from online availability while they're trying to sell those other kinds of packages. If you called the ticket office to buy your tickets, the ticket rep could tell you why specific seats you were asking for were not available now but might become available later. But the online buyer is only going to see whatever tickets have been made available for sale online, and has no way of knowing why other seats aren't available. That's why I rarely buy Nats tickets online.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 28, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

i think Riggs was channeling Acta in pulling Stammen to early last night, what say ye?

Posted by: chillsonic | May 28, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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