Losing Efforts: 5/30 - 6/18/10

Since last week the Nationals have officially lost Adam Dunn, and have added Jayson Werth. The impact to the line-up will be small at best. Jayson Werth is a better hitter, but Dunn is a better slugger. The best thing about sports is that every argument about how a team or player will perform will be answered. But this isn't about looking forward. It is about looking back and seeing if any improvements that the Nats have made will help them in one run games. So, let us continue. The second game this week is full of good memories.

Padres defeat Nationals 3-2 May 30, 2010 at PetCo Park

What Went Wrong

Lance Zawadzki hit an infield single that Adam Kennedy decided to throw away allowing him to advance to second. He then scored on a Nick Hundley single off of Matt Capps.

Did it Matter

(cont. after the JUMP)

Adam Kennedy had some issues at second base in 2010. A normally sure handed defender blamed his issues with rust from sitting on the bench. It is now no secret that Kennedy was unhappy on the Nationals and did not want to be a back-up. This was also during a time period when Matt Capps had a bit of bad luck or bad performances strung together. It is tough to come in to face one hitter and then end up giving up the hit that loses the game. I would say this moment mattered in the fact that it lost the game, but the Nationals wouldn't have even had a chance if it wasn't for Zimmerman's two solo homers.

Missed Opportunities

Other than the two Zimmerman homers the Nationals had almost no offense, but Zimmerman's homer in the first inning should have been a 2 run homer. With Nyjer Morgan on first Adam Kennedy grounded into a double play to the pitcher. Now double plays will happen and they are unavoidable, but the number 2 hitter shouldn't ground into many of them. Staying out of the double play isn't as important as not running into an out, but it is still important. With a runner as fast as Nyjer on first the only thing that should be needed to stay out of a double play is to hit the ball past the pitcher, which is exactly what Kennedy failed to do.

Difference Making

Adam Kennedy won't be on the Nationals next year. I don't really feel right picking on the guy, but this game is on him. He hit into the double play in the first inning and made the error in the 11th. I would like to see Desmond stay on the Nats with Espinosa as his double play partner. If Desmond is on the Nationals next year he most likely bats second and he showed in 2010 that he can handle the bat well enough to just make contact when needed. Desmond could have just as easily hit into a double play as Kennedy but I think it would be less likely. A number of times last season Desmond would get in a 0-2 or 1-2 hole and just settle for advancing the runner. That is what a good number two hitter should do, and while Kennedy did have some speed Desmond is younger and faster and could have forced a play to come to first. With the ball going back to the pitcher that is unlikely. As for the error, Danny Espinosa will be a short stop playing second and has a much stronger more accurate arm than Kennedy. No defensive player will be error free, but I am confident in the fact that Espinosa will provide better defense than Kennedy.

Astros defeat Nationals 8-7 June 1, 2010 at Minute Maid Park

What Went Wrong

Bill Hohn

Did it Matter

The game was over. Lance Berkman freaking swung.

Miss Opportunities

Aside from Zimmerman taking out Bill Hohn on his way back to the dugout? No not really. This was a game that each team was trying to hand to each other with errors and sloppy play, and Bill Hohn finally decided he should hand it to the Astros when the Nationals had won.

Difference Making

It is funny. I was watching Hot Stove last night and Harold Reynolds asked Buck Showalter what it was like taking over a last place club and dealing with the umps. If your team is perceived as good the calls go your way, if your team is perceived as bad they don't. Riggleman sure yelled at a lot of umps last year. Maybe a few more calls go the Nats was in 2011.

Reds defeat Nationals 5-4 June 6, 2010 at Nationals Park

What Went Wrong

Relievers slump too. This was a bad time for Matt Capps and the umps not giving him calls or having Guzman playing in right field didn't help him any. Capps relieved Clippard with one out in the 9th facing the bottom of the Reds order and gave up back to back doubles to Drew Stubbs and Johnny Gomes before a Scott Rolen homer.

Did it Matter

Anytime a closer blows a save it turns a win into a possible loss. The Nationals were able to come back and tie it up in the bottom of the inning, but it was too late.

Missed Opportunities

Clippard pitched a dominating 8th inning and then made the first batter he faced in the 9th look like a joke. This one was simple. Clippard was lights out on this day and there is no way he should have come out of the game. this was one of the worst decisions Riggleman made all year. Capps had been a victim of bad luck or bad pitching for over a week, and Clippard was smoking the Reds.

Difference Making

The Nationals still need to sign a first baseman, and they still might trade Josh Willingham, but as of this moment those moves haven't happened. Let's assume right now that they don't happen and Michael Morse is at first and Willingham is in left. Dunn was a good slugger, but he was only one man. Looking at how the bottom of the 9th inning played out it is painfully clear that the Nationals line-up simply wasn't deep enough. Francisco Cordero was struggling with control and while he did blow a 2 run lead on a Morse double the Nationals still swung their way into some outs. Alberto Gonzalez and Nyjer Morgan were the two main culprits. Cordero was struggling with control and a more patient approach would have benefited the Nationals in this situation. Now this was a Sunday game and it is likely that the Sunday line-up would have been in no matter who the starters are, and it is another example of just how important a good bench is. 

White Sox defeat Nationals 2-1 June 18, 2010 at Nationals Park

What Went Wrong

I said the day after Dunn signed that it was a little mean of MLB Network to run a "highlights" package of Dunn's defense. Well the play that ended up giving the White Sox the lead was one of those "highlights." It might have gone done as a Zimmerman error, but it should have been an out.

Did it Matter

The game was tied so it isn't as bad as the Bill Hahn no-swing call or taking Clippard out when he is dealing, but it did directly lead to the winning run.

Missed Opportunities

Anytime a team only scores one run it is assumed there are a few times they had chances and didn't cash in, but this game was different. Gavin Floyd once allowed a runner to reach second and that was the run that scored. I should point out that it was Dunn that drove in the run so without him we might very well be talking about the Nationals inability to push runs across the plate at all. Of course later in the game Ozzie Guillen made it painfully clear that he had no respect for the big guy as he walked Zimmerman in the bottom of the 9th with Morgan on second so that Matt Thornton could face Adam Dunn.

Difference Making

Really this game was lost on luck. The White Sox should have never had the run they scored in the first inning. Strasburg was pitching and Jaun Piere reached first on a swinging bunt, this was followed by a bloop double down the right field line. Something to consider right now would be if Jayson Werth could have gotten to this ball. By all accounts Roger Bernadina is fast, but Werth is still the better defender. This just has the feeling of a game that was never meant to be. Gavin Floyd shutdown the Nationals and Strasburg was the victim of some dribblers and bloops. This sort of thing happens in baseball, and it is better to lose a game like this than because of Bill Hohn.

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