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The return of Clip & Save

Morning roundup

The shame of the Nationals' skid was the wasting of their bullpen's excellence. As the Nationals went 11-24 from May 15 to Sunday, their bullpen managed a 2.75 ERA with a .254 batting average against. The Nationals had ample problems, but relief pitching was not one of them.

When the Nationals snapped their six-game losing streak last night, they also allowed for the return of the formula that defined their early-season success. Play good enough to squeak out a narrow lead, get to the eighth inning and entrust the game to Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps. Losing prevents the back end of a bullpen from fulfilling its true role. It took ample drama, but Clip & Save sealed a win the Nationals so badly needed.

Their re-emergence happened at a perfect time in one respect. The Nationals today will pass out "Clip & Save" T-shirts to the first 10,000 fans. It is a goofy thing, but it means something to them.

"It's kind of neat," Capps said. "It's a cool feeling and something neat for your friends and family to see and to have. For the team to think that much of you, it's a good feeling."

Clippard pointed out that the dual success of him and Capps depends on the entire team -- they only have a lead to protect if the starting pitcher and the offense create one. But he also acknowledged their partnership.

"We've definitely fed off each other," Clippard said. "I try to set the tone, and he comes in there and usually gets them out. It's more of a whole spectrum of things, but we've fed off each other, too."

Said Capps: "Clippard, what can you say about the guy? He just goes out and gets the job done. After he goes out and pitches, I just try not to embarrass myself. He's been as good as they get. Every time he goes out and throws, I know if it's a one-run lead, I know I'm pitching after him."

Last night, Clippard allowed a leadoff single, Scott Podsednik's fourth hit of the game, but then shut down the Royals, striking out Billy Butler to end the inning with Podsednik standing on second base.

Capps followed by allowing two singles and putting men on first and third with one out. He saved his best pitches, as he so often does, for his most perilous moments. He struck out the free-swinging Yuniesky Betancourt looking at an outside fastball, then froze Mitch Maier looking at a nasty, inside cut fastball.

Capps pitched in a save situation for the first time since June 9. He had the chance because of the rest of his team, most directly Clippard. He bolted from the bullpen, three outs away from a victory. "It's a different feeling," Capps said.

FROM THE POST

Livan Hernandez's strong start coupled with homers by Michael Morse and Cristian Guzman gave the Nationals a 2-1 victory over the Royals that snapped a six-game losing streak.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Charlotte 6, Syracuse 1: In his first Class AAA start this year, Jason Jones allowed on four hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings. Ron Villone allowed three earned runs without recording an out.

Harrisburg was off for the All-Star break. Danny Espinosa was named the Eastern League's Batter of the Week after going 13 for 29 with three doubles and four home runs, including a grand slam.

Potomac was off for the All-Star break. Mike Burgess is its lone All-Star.

Hagerstown was off for the All-Star break. Justin Bloxom was named the South Atlantic League Batter of the Week after going 17 for 31 with three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBI.

Vermont 5, Connecticut 3: Jason Martinson went 2 for 3. Graham Hicks allowed one earned run on three hits and no walks in five innings, striking out eight.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

John Lannan's demotion reflects Mike Rizzo's philosophy, Ben Goessling writes.

FanGraphs looks at John Lannan's demotion by the advanced numbers.

Jon Heyman says the Nationals signing Stephen Strasburg was the best decision made in the past year.

It's a travesty on my part that I haven't linked to this blog sooner. Try not to click with your boss around.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 22, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Next: No changes for overlooked Nationals in All-Star voting

Comments

How much you wanna bet that Mike (er excuse me, Michael) Morse is not in the lineup today?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | June 22, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Thought that was a kind call on the 0-2 to Betancourt but it was nice to have a break fall our way for a change.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | June 22, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

No Harrisburg players made the All-Star team? Huh?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | June 22, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The link for the Syracuse game points to the Vermont game. The correct link should be: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=g_box&gid=2010_06_21_chraaa_syraaa_1

Posted by: rew_23 | June 22, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see how the "performance league" criteria will apply to Morgan. He has clearly regressed and shown extremely poor judgement on the basepaths and in other aspects of the game as we saw again last night. I understand they are heavily conting on him to be the CF solution for some time and probably don't want to risk disrupting the team chemistry by benching him. But given how Bernadina has progressed at the plate nd the apparent emergence of Morse it seems that they may be willing to make the switch if the team continues to struggle offensively. Of course Zim's slump and Dunn's lack of key hits hasn't helped but Morgan and Guzman are not getting on base (and staying on base) enough. I'd like to see Bernadina lead off and Desmond bat second for awhile. Especially given the possibility that Morgan and Guzman may not be back next year.

Posted by: Natmeister | June 22, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John: Harrisburg was just on an off day. Their All-Star break comes later in the season, IIRC.

Posted by: BinM | June 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Adam must be looking at the July minor league schedules. The Eastern League All-Star break is July 13-14.

Posted by: nats24 | June 22, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Willingham/Bernadina/Morse as the regular LF/CF/RF lineup. Could do a lot worse than that. We've had Dunn, Nook Logan, and Guzman in those positions at one time or another. The horror!

So does Hammer/Bernie/Michael happen before or after Nyjer Morgan bobblehead night (July 31)?

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 22, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Nyjer Bobblehead Night -- yeah, that kind of sums up the dilemma. They set him up as team sparkplug before it was established that he could handle the role. Now it's kind of hard to sit him without wrecking his attitude. Plus as creator of the Silver Elvis award it would probably be blow to team morale as well.

Posted by: Natmeister | June 22, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Last year's trade with the Pirates has become a little more interesting. It looked like a steal last year. Now Milledge's stats are, on balance, better than Morgan's. Granted, Milledge was a "bad guy" in terms of team chemistry (and this FO has worked to improve the clubhouse in that way--thus Morgan), but he has come around offensively for the Pirates. It still looks like we have the edge with Burnett over Hanrahan. Baseball is such a long-run deal...

Posted by: fpcsteve | June 22, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

>>Last year's trade with the Pirates has become a little more interesting. Baseball is such a long-run deal...Posted by: fpcsteve

Exactly. I'd probably take Morgan over Milledge but neither is the answer. Its negligible. Burnett however is far superior to Hanni but hardly plays.
In retrospect a very minor deal.


Posted by: skins_fan_22 | June 22, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@skin_fan_22: You know, you're right. I hadn't thought of it that way. A minor deal with two guys neither of whom is the answer. Evaluating that trade a year after the fact is what gives me pause on the whole Bernadina(CF) and Morse(RF)lineup discussion that is currently going on. What looks great now may start looking ordinary as they get more AB's and the league gets a better read on them.

Posted by: fpcsteve | June 22, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"Sheesh, remind me never to agree with you ever again! Here, Peric, I have a warm plate of bile for you. Your third today, I believe?"

Sorry about that .... call it a wonderful plate of fresh VINDICATION! I am the one who said Morse tore up 2 AAA leagues, the PCL and the International (Syracuse) with stats that were as good as Jason Heyward's (the #1 prospect pre-Stras) last year and Heyward's were almost entirely in AA!

Even Dibble referred to Morse as "Hammer" in passing. And that is what he looks like; another "Hammer" as opposed to a "Heyward", except with a much better arm who can potentially play every infield position (except catcher) and the outfield.

And only Chico Harlan and I said that JD Martin would be a factor on this team this year. All the nay sayers on this stupid blog. And they say I am negative. Too old to be prospects. Lifetime AAAA. We'll see boyz.

And yeah you self-appointed baseball brainiacs, "too old" Trevor Holder, watch for him. He is coming your way. HAHHH!

Posted by: periculum | June 22, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It is "Clipp & Save" ... you missed a "p"

Posted by: justaguy43 | June 22, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Really think the Nats are on their way to a sweep today and tomorrow. Let's face it KC stinks. Ati will rebound tonight. Just hope Riggs doesn't put too much pressure on his offense by resting Pudge and sitting Hammer II (Morse). Dead spots like Nieves in the lineup really put undo pressure on everyone else.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | June 22, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals today will pass out "Clip & Save" T-shirts to the first 10,000 fans."

The Nats shirts will say "Clipp and Save." Presumably the altered spelling means the Lerners can avoid paying royalties to the guy on this board that actually came up with it. [-)

Posted by: MikeH0714 | June 22, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Lannan should take steroids to get his fastball up to 92. Thats what Clemens would do. And we all know Clemens is a stand-up guy.

Posted by: chillsonic | June 22, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The KC thing is interesting. The local radio station here (Nebraska) carries the Royals. The Royals' announcers were really upset last night--the better team lost. From their point of view, the Nats are their chance to "get well soon." They sure don't see a Nats sweep coming. I hope/think you're right.

Posted by: fpcsteve | June 22, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure whoever designed that "Clipp & Save" t-shirt fully thought out how it would look on our fans of the fair sex.

Posted by: joebleux | June 22, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm really digging Morse but was anyone else besides me thinking about any say alternative supplements when they saw where Morse's bomb landed last night? That and the one to center field the other night, well I mean normal peeps don't come anywhere near hitting anything that far. Just sayin.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | June 22, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

On a side note, watched the movie Rudy again last night. Anyone who hasn't seen this check it out. Great film.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | June 22, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

@joebleux: I wasn't exactly sure what you meant until I saw the shirt online. But, yes, wow, this t-shirt will look AWESOME lady Nats fans.

The shirt is here: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/ticketing/singlegame.jsp?c_id=was. Click on the "T-Shirt Tuesday" link.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | June 22, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, right. That's soooo hilarious. ;-)

And now for something completely different: more cowbell, anyone?

http://tinyurl.com/2ckkhol

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 22, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Dang, I'm off my game. That was the perfect opportunity to evoke the classic Johnny Holliday line: What are you guys, 12? :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 22, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

You probably jinxed the Nats today, skins_fan, but you're right about ''Rudy.'' If you want a great baseball film, check out "Little Big League'' -- Griffey Jr. and the Big Unit are among the many big leaguers in it.

Posted by: nats24 | June 22, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Twelve? 1a, you're giving us waaayyy too much credit...

Posted by: joebleux | June 22, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Quick to jump ship: Man, you guy's are all over Morgan from benching him to the dreaded DFA, Nyjer's mistake was having all star like numbers before he broke his hand and i'm telling you that his problem is confidence, apparently as i've said on this journal i think the kid misses HIS MENTOR mARQUIS

Posted by: dargregmag | June 22, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Sorry; fat fingers will do it every time!

Posted by: dargregmag | June 22, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Continuing my post on Nyjer; Grissom had this kid playing with confidence and swagger,this year has been anything but, from swinging down on the ball to the occasional misplay in CF to getting picked off with regularity Morgan has me even saying "what's up T.Plush" as most of you know when you not playing with confidence(Austin Kearns!) the game turn's into a nightmare, now that being said i'm still in Nyjer's corner and i think he'll pull out of it.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 22, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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