Elijah Dukes, in the midst of a 6-game hitting streak, shows up late to the park and gets benched. Scott Olsen has his best start of the year and the bullpen blows it. Roger Bernadina, filling in for Dukes, makes the best catch of the year, so far, and injures his ankle when he collides with the wall, and DC Closer "Wild" Joel Hanrahan, for the second-straight game, is handed a lead and allows a HR to tie it in the ninth...The Nationals lose for the fifth time in five games against Florida this season. 9-6 final.
Elijah Dukes was in the Washington Nationals' lineup when I originally posted it just before noon today, but by the time I got to work I had a message on my phone with an updated lineup that had Roger Bernadina starting in center for DC. When I logged on to the Washington Post's Nationals Journal to see what I could find, I read Chico Harlan's article entitled, "Dukes Scratched For Violating Team Rule", which simply stated that Mr. Harlan had heard that, "Dukes was five minutes late for the team's workout today, which prompted the punishment".
About halfway through the game, while I was at work and following along on the radio and GameThread, I read some posts about "Acting" General Manager Mike Rizzo's comments, and how some thought the team's reaction harsh, while some applauded the insistence on discipline, but when I found the quotes that were referenced, it was actualy an unattributed statement in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article on Elijah Dukes entitled, "Nats discipline Dukes for tardiness", where Mr. Ladson had written:
"Both acting general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Manny Acta made the decision to let Dukes sit out the game, and the outfielder was warned that if he was late again, he would be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse."
Dukes, (who played late in the game when Roger Bernadina, starting in center in Dukes' stead, suffered what's now been diagnosed as a fractured ankle as he crashed into the wall while making a diving play you'll be seeing for years), was in the midst of a six-game hitting streak, having take over the starting spot when Lastings Milledge was sent to Triple-A Syracuse.
The latest word, in a post game article entitled, "Injury Problems, Closer Problems", again, by the Washington Post's Chico Harlan, is that Dukes arrived late "to work", as DC Manager Manny Acta put it in Mr. Harlan's article:
"...because he was doing something that we encourage our players to do: He was out in the community doing something for some Little League program and just showed up late..."
Five minutes late because he was doing charity wor...and Bernadina eventually gets injur...Whatever, next...
Why Avoid It Any Longer?
Is Joel Hanrahan fit to be a closer? I don't call him "Wild" Joel Hanrahan for nothing, and there is the whole running joke (which only I perpetuate) that there exists a DC Closer Tradition of "Making It Interesting", but it's supposed to wild as in wildly effective, and making it interesting as in, "Phew, that was close, but we escaped with the win,"...It's not supposed to be a 1-7 team suffering their eighth and ninth losses because the closer can't keep the ball in the park.
Last night it was Marlins' center fielder Cody Ross who tied it at 2-2 when Hanrahan surrendered a solo shot on a hanging slider. This afternoon, Hanrahan came on in the ninth with a three-run lead and alternated K's and singles, the second of which scored Alfredo Amezaga to make it 6-4 DC. Three fastballs later, Jeremy Hermida had launched a two-run HR to tie it at 6-6, and Hanrahan had blown his second-straight game.
Hanrahan's line: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 HR and 3 K's...
Since taking over as the closer following Jon Rauch's trade to Arizona last July, Hanrahan's blown 5 of 14 save opportunities, and these last two are the difference between a three game winning streak that leaves DC 3-7 and a two-game losing streak that finds the Nationals 1-9. So who's next in line as the closer if Joel Hanrahan can't hold onto the job?
Milledge Out, Bernadina In, Bernadina Out, It's Justin Maxwell's Turn...
Justin Maxwell was hitting .226 with 2 HR's and 4 RBI's, a .333 OBP, .493 SLG and .753 OPS in 8 games and 31 at bats with Triple-A Syracuse before being called up to back up in the outfied.
The Positives...A Quick List...
- Austin Kearns' Grand Slam.
- Nick Johnson was 2 for 4 with 1 RBI, now hitting .371.
- Ryan Zimmerman 2 for 5 with his 9th RBI, now hitting .277.
- Adam Dunn walked twice.
- Scott Olsen's line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR, 5 K's, 103 pitches.
- There's Another Game Tomorrow...
Tomorrow's Matchup...Marlins' starter Chris Volstad against Daniel Cabrera. 1:35 pm EST.
Final Score - 9-6 Marlins over Nationals.
Nationals now 1-9.