The bright side: Stephen Strasburg pitches Saturday
Cristian Guzman could have fielded Ike Davis's grounder cleanly in the first inning. He could have turned a double play that would have ended the inning.
Nyjer Morgan could have been called safe on his attempted steal of second base in the bottom of the first. Umpire Bill Welke could have ruled that Mets third baseman David Wright -- who had moved over to cover second as part of New York's defensive shift with Adam Dunn batting -- pushed Morgan off the bag.
Mike Morse could have made a leaping catch of Alex Cora's fly ball at the wall in the fourth, one that would have been the inning's third out.
But none of that happened.
Guzman bobbled the grounder, which prolonged the inning and allowed a run to score.
Morgan was called out. Welke ruled that Morgan's momentum carried him past second base and that Wright had legally tagged Morgan's left foot.
"Once [Morgan] was off the base, Wright did force him off further, but he was already off," Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said. "So Bill said he had him out either way."
And Morse did not make the catch at the wall to end the fourth inning. Morse said he did not think the ball was headed out of the park -- as Riggleman contended -- and he said he did not mistime his leap -- as it appeared on television replays. He said he simply didn't jump high enough to make the grab.
"Couldn't have missed it by much," Morse said.
Instead of remaining in close contention, the Nationals were forced to scramble for a rally in the bottom of the ninth. Said rally was cut short when Roger Bernadina was picked off second base to end the game.
Riggleman sought out only the positives afterward, which in theory was a good strategy. In practice, the Nationals should gain some positive vibes Saturday when right-handed phenom Stephen Strasburg takes the mound against the Mets.
Strasburg will be making his sixth major league start, and he'll hope the brief spurt of momentum Washington generated in the ninth Friday night carries over to the following day. The Nationals have scored one run in Strasburg's past three starts combined.
He'll also hope that the bullpen supplements him in the same manner it did Luis Atilano on Friday night. Joel Peralta threw three innings of scoreless relief. In fact, four Washington relievers -- Peralta, Sean Burnett, Miguel Batista and Doug Slaten -- combined to throw five and one-third innings of scoreless relief.
Peralta "did a great job," Riggleman said. "That's a lot of pitching right there ... In [Class] AAA he was a one-inning pitcher. A couple times maybe he went a little more than that. Right before he came up we extended him to two innings. So for him to go three innings, I know he was gassed there at the end, and I appreciate his efforts because he saved some other guys in the bullpen there for us."
The three relievers Riggleman didn't use Friday -- Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps -- will be plenty fresh should they be needed on Saturday. Riggleman said Friday that Strasburg's pitch count will hold at around 100.
July 3, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Cristian Guzman , Jim Riggleman , Nyjer Morgan , Stephen Strasburg
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