Nationals need to regroup quickly
Take your pick of where to begin dissecting the Nationals' improbable 7-6 loss to Baltimore last night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
You could start with the erratic relief pitching, most notably from Tyler Clippard, who gave up four runs, three of them earned, and was largely responsible for Washington's eighth loss in 10 games. That Clippard faltered was surprising considering he entered Friday with a 1.58 ERA and an 8-3 record. In 17 appearances beginning May 19, Clippard went 1-0 with one save, nine holds and an 0.49 ERA.
You also could point to the sloppy fielding, which included Cristian Guzman's throwing error in the bottom of the ninth that allowed pinch runner Jake Fox to score the winning run. Like Guzman, Ian Desmond also committed two errors.
Then there were the Nationals' bats, which produced in the early stages but were unable to come through when it mattered most.
All of those variables contributed to perhaps the most deflating loss of the season that rendered the clubhouse virtually silent shortly after the game had ended and media were allowed access to players and coaches.
Clippard took the loss particularly hard, sitting in front of his locker for an extended period before showering and answering the tough questions.
"Just couldn't get the ball down," said Clippard, who gave up three runs, including a two-run pinch-hit homer to Scott Moore, in the eighth inning that allowed Baltimore to tie it at 6. "I just didn't establish the strike zone early, so I was a little tentative after that, and it cost me."
The Nationals resume their interleague series with the Orioles today at 4:05 p.m., so they'll have to try to get over the loss as quickly as possible or risk losing a second game in a row to the team with the worst record in the majors.
"You've got to be able to bounce back," said center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who went 4 for 5 and had one of the most acrobatic catches of the season when he robbed Corey Patterson of what appeared a sure home run in the third inning. "That's why you play this game 162. There's going to be a couple games where you're going to fall by the wayside like this. We have the heart in this clubhouse, and we definitely have the right guys in here to definitely pick it up."
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 6, Pawtucket 1: Matt Chico went 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits, to improve to 3-3.
Harrisburg 5, Reading 2: John Lannan allowed one run and four hits over seven innings in his first start since being sent down to the minors.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Morgan has a breakout game despite the loss, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
Defensive breakdowns were largely to blame for the loss, write Ben Goessling of masnsports.com.
June 26, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Cristian Guzman , Ian Desmond , Jim Riggleman , Nyjer Morgan | Tags: Cristian Guzman, Ian Desmond, Nyjer Morgan, Tyler Clippard
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