20 More To Go...
After losing 10-5 to Atlanta last night, Washington dropped to 54-88 in '08, and now with 20 games left, the Nationals will have to win at least nine if they're to avoid hitting triple digits in losses, as sure a sign of futility as there is in the Majors. (ed. note - "Though it's neck and neck with old 'Mendoza's line'...").
In their previous 20 games stretching back to August 15th in DC against the Rockies, the Nationals are 10-10, having dropped five-straight from 8/15-8/20, and split their next four, before reeling off a 7-game win streak from 8/26-9/1, and finally splitting the last two of three with Philly in DC and losing the last two to the Braves on the road. (ed. note - "Got that?")
In their last 20 games in 2008, the Nationals are scheduled to play two more with the Braves this weekend, two with the Mets midweek in NY, three on the road in Florida, and then their last ten at home in Nationals Park against the Mets, Padres and Marlins before they finish the season with three on the road in Philly, as the Nationals figure to figure in two tight races down the stretch...The Battle between NY and Philly for the NL East crown, (which is the only way either team gets into Postseason play), and the battle for the #1 Draft Pick in '09, which looks to be coming down to race between the Mariners, Nationals, and Padres with the three game series from 9/19-9/21 between DC and SD possibly deciding projected #1 pick Stephen Strasburg's future...(ed. note - "More on Strasburg soon...")
Tonight's Dreary Defeat...
DC right-hander Jason Bergmann gave up 5 hits, 7 runs and 3 walks while throwing 61 pitches in 2.1 IP, culminating in a 7-run third in which Bergmann gave up 3 runs himself before handing a bases-loaded jam to Nationals' reliever Marco Estrada, who let the rest of Bergmann's, and one of his own runs cross the plate on a bases-clearing double by Braves' outfield Brandon Jones. The other run on Bergmann comes on Chipper Jones' RBI groundout in the second, which got Atlanta off to an early 1-0 lead.
Bergmann never had it, and Marco Estrada gave up two more runs in 2.2 IP to finish the night having allowed 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 2 walks. Levale Speigner, Charlie Manning and Garrett Mock combine for three scoreless as the Nationals try to crawl back, but in spite of a run off Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens, one off Buddy Carlyle and three off reliever Elmer Dessens, the Nationals are unable to get any closer than five runs behind as the Braves' early offense holds up in the 10-5 ATL win.
Jason Bergmann drops to (L, 2-11) with a 5.23 ERA to end the night. Roger Bernadina hits his first Major League triple and knocks in his first MLB RBI in the process, scoring Ryan Zimmerman two outs after Zim had singled to start the Nationals' third. Aaron Boone, Ryan Langerhans (2) and Wil Nieves collect the other RBI's and Kory "Clean-Up" Casto goes 3 for 5 with 3 singles and a run scored...
Final score...Atlanta 10 Nationals 5.
For The Completists, Full Game Report After The Jump...
Nationals now 54-88. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stands At...12.)
Willie Harris sends Braves’ centerfielder Josh Anderson sprinting back to the track to collect the line drive Harris hits for the first out of the evening, and then Atlanta right-hander Jair Jurrjens walks Cristian Guzman for the first free pass. Ryan Zimmerman takes a high 83 mph change that the Ump calls in on the top corner. Zimmerman disagrees. Kory Casto in the cleanup spot, pushes a line drive into left for a two-out single. Jurrjens walks the bases loaded for his fellow Curacao-native, Roger Bernadina, who hits a grounder to second that Kelly Johnson handles...Josh Anderson makes his way around to second before Roger Bernadina can pick the hard hit ball up off the warning track dirt. Kelly Johnson’s groundout to short moves Anderson to third. Chipper Jones pushes a fastball out to short, Anderson scores. 1-0 Atlanta. Brian McCann flies out to end the first.
Wil Nieves watches a curve drop into the zone for a called strike three. Emilio Bonifacio works the count full and beats the covering pitcher and the throw from Casey Kotchman to first for an infield single. Jason Bergmann gets down his second sac bunt of the season to move Bonifacio to second. Jurrjens throws low on a full-count pitch to Willie Harris to put two on for Crisitian Guzman. Guzman lifts a low sinking fastball to center and almost over Anderson’s head in center, almost...Yunel Escobar strikes out swinging over an 83 mph breaking ball. Casey Kotchman puts a charge into a line drive single to left center. Jeff Francouer pops up behind the plate to Wil Nieves. Brandon Jones watches a sharp curve drop in for strike three to end the second.
An 0-1 pitch to Ryan Zimmerman gets blistered through short for a leadoff single in the third. Kory Casto pops out unproductively behind short. Ryan Langerhans K’s swinging. Roger Bernadina with the two-out AB, takes a sweet level swing and drills a high fastball to right scoring Zimmerman from first, 1-1 ballgame, with Bernadina at third. Wil Nieves K’s staring to end the DC third...Jair Jurrjens hits a fly ball over the pitcher’s mound and deep enough at second for a single. Josh Anderson hits a liner through Bonifacio at second. Jurrjens to third. Kelly Johnson rips a fastball out over the plate to right to drive in Jurrjens for a 2-1 Braves’ lead. Anderson takes third. Bergmann pitches around Chipper Jones to bring up McCann with the bases loaded. Brian McCann lifts a sac fly to right, 3-1 Braves. Bergmann walks Escobar to reload the bases, and might be on the way out. Bergmann walks Kotchman to force in the fourth run, 4-1 Atlanta. Bergmann’s done. Marco Estrada takes over against Jeff Francouer, and walks in another. 5-1 Atlanta. An 0-2 pitch from Estrada hangs up high in the zone and Brandon Jones destroys it for a bases-clearing double and an 8-1 Atlanta lead. Estrada pops up the pitcher, Josh Anderson grounds to first. 8-1 Atlanta after three.
Emilio Bonifacio singles to center to start the fourth. Marco Estrada gets down a sac bunt to move Bonifacio up. Willie Harris lifts an easy out to center. Jurrjens throws a high fastball by Guzman for the third out...Kelly Johnson hits a double to left that not even Willie Harris can reach. Chipper Jones flies out to left. Brian McCann pops up to the infield. Emilio Bonifacio makes a sweet diving play on Yunel Escobar’s grounder and completely sails the throw...Johnson scores. 9-1 Braves. Ryan Zimmerman catches a foul pop off Kotchman’s bat....Chipper Jones can’t barehand an excuse-me grounder from Ryan Zimmerman. Kory Casto grounds weakly to second, Kelly Johnson to Yunel Escobar to Kotchman at first, double play. Ryan Langerhans swings over a two-strike sinker for the end of DC’s fifth...Marco Estrada hits Francouer in the hip with a fastball. Gregor Blanco comes on to run for Francouer. Estrada strikes out Brandon Jones but then walks pinch hitter Ruben Gotay. Estrada goes to second on a ground ball back to the mound from Josh Anderson. Kelly Johnson rips a line drives off Estrada’s hip, and Zimmerman’s quick field and throw is not quick enough, Gotay scores, Johnson safe at first. 10-1 Braves. Ryan Langerhans runs into the fenced scoreboard to keep Chipper from piling up RBI’s 10-1 Atlanta after five.
Braves’ reliever Buddy Carlyle walks the first batter he faces, Roger Bernadina. Wil Nieves flies out to center. Kelly Johnson double pumps but still throws out Bonifacio on a weak grounder. Bernadina to second. Pinch hitter Aaron Boone drives in Bernadina with a single to center. 10-2 Braves. Willie Harris grounds to second to end the DC sixth...Levale Speigner takes the mound for DC, and gets a great fielding play from Bonifacio to help with the first out on a McCann grounder. Yunel Escobar singles to right, Casey Kotchman singles through second to move Escobar up. Ruben Gotay pops out to the infield. Guzman tosses to Bonifacio covering as Brandon Jones grounds into a force.
Cristian Guzman starts the seventh with a single through second into center. Atlanta reliever Elmer Dessens gets a grounder from Zimmerman to third and a force at second. Pinch Runnin’ Pete Orr takes over at first for Zimmerman. Kory Casto sneaks a single through the right side of the infield. Ryan Langerhans drives a triple into right center that rolls to wall allowing two runs to cross. 10-4 Atlanta. Bernadina takes his second straight walk. Wil Nieves flies out to center. Ryan Langerhans tags and scores, 10-5 Braves...Charlie Manning, one of DC’s two lefty relievers, starts the seventh against Martin Prado. Manning gets Prado swinging. Manning slips a bender by Josh Anderson up high in the zone. Kelly Johnson pops up a slider. 10-5 Braves after seven.
Anderson Hernandez grounds out to second. Willie Harris K’s. Pinch hitter Alberto Gonzalez gets thrown out by Prado to end a quick eighth for Braves’ reliever Jeff Ridgway...Garrett Mock gets the first out of the Braves’ eighth on a groundout from Greg Norton. Braves’ catcher Clint Sammons grounds out to Pete Orr at third. Mock issues a two-out walk to Yunel Escobar. Casey Kotchman grounds to third, Orr handles that too...
Three outs to get five runs off Jorge Julio. Pete Orr flies out to short center. Kory Casto singles to center on a smoked line drive. Kory Casto takes second after waiting out a ground ball to Kelly Johnson from Ryan Langerhans and avoiding the throw back looking for the DP. Roger Bernadina grounds out. Braves win. 10-5 final.
Nationals now 54-88. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stands At...12.)