If The Washington Nationals' 101st Loss Falls In A Forest...? Atlanta Braves win, 4-1.

The Washington Nationals' 101st loss of 2009 came and went without much fanfare (or offense from the Nationals). There won't be any stories about the 4-1 Friday night loss to Atlanta on the Drudge Report tomorrow. Sportscenter won't dig up some obscure facts about back-to-back 101-loss seasons by teams in baseball's "modern era", and since only a few thousand people witnessed the game live, (28,276 according to the MLB boxscore, which counts tickets sold rather than fans in attendance), and no one's watching the Nationals on TV anymore, Washington's 101st loss will pretty much go unnoticed. But I noticed, and I was watching, and I guarantee you there were not twenty-eight thousand plus in Nationals Park, I was there, standing for half the game on the Red Porch overlooking the outfield where Josh Willinghman dropped a line drive in the first, and Justin Maxwell and Willie Harris let a ball fall between them for an RBI hit, and an early 2-0 Braves' lead after one. Then I moved down below to field level seats behind first base with some friends, where I watched closely as Atlanta's starter (former Montreal Expos' ace) Javier Vazquez dominated the Nationals, throwing 104 pitches over 9.0 innings and giving up just 3 hits and 1 ER on a HR by Josh Bard for the only run DC scored all night. The win kept the Braves mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, so it means something to Atlanta and the thousands of displaced Georgians who filled Nationals Park, but all it means to Washington is that they're on the verge of passing the '08 loss total that I think most fans assumed, or at least hoped, was rock bottom...


The Nationals entered the season talking about playing .500 ball. The '08 season had been an anomaly, had the team been healthy there's no way they would have lost that many games, and with Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham added to the batting order, this team was sure to have more pop, (forgetting for a moment that offense was added at the expense of any semblance of a competitive rotation or pen), if the pitchers just kept the Nationals in games, the offense would come through. Tell that to John Lannan, who threw 122 pitches tonight, and gave up just six hits and 2 runs, (both unearned after Pete Orr committed a two-out error in the first to let DC's lefty off the hook), and received no run support in what would end up being his 13th loss of 2009... Lannan (L, 9-13), was making his third run at double-digit wins, and he's the only DC starter who even has a shot, but he'll have to do it in what's likely his last '09 start next time out if there's any hope.

So the Nationals, after the loss, are now 52-101. With nine games left they'll have to go 7-0 in 4 more against Atlanta, and three with New York to avoid finishing the season with less than last year's dismal total of 59 wins, but even that would leave DC 59-103, one loss worse than in 2008 and 14 losses worse than they were in 2007. 

Will the fact that the Nationals signed their #1 overall pick and earned the right to draft the next over-hyped, over-priced prospect, who happens to be a precocious teenage catcher, be enough to make you forget that in the last two seasons the team's gone 111-203. And will it make you forget that in the same year Washington signed Stephen Strasburg and earned the right to draft the next big thing in prospects, 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper, they also lost their number one pitching prospect to Tommy John surgery and saw last year's catcher of the future suffer a SLAP tear of the right labrum while he was recovering from a stress fracture in the same shoulder? 

(ed. note - "Sorry for the prolonged rant, but aside from the pitching performances, what else is there to say about tonight's loss? E: 134 - Pete Orr misses a sharp grounder at second that may or may not have grazed the second base ump. E:135 - Ian Desmond makes a throwing error in center on a ball hit to Justin Maxwell...I really have no idea what happened here, I was too busy shaking my head...")

Braves win, 4-1 final. 

• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Watching...

• Check Out The SB Nation's Atlanta Braves Blog: Talking Chop.

Nationals now 52-101.

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