The seventh inning of last night's game was a second-guesser's dream. Should Matt Williams have gone to the bullpen after Max Scherzer gave up back-to-back singles by Ramon Flores and Brett Gardner in a 1-1 game? Or after Chase Headley smoked a first-pitch fastball from Scherzer but lined out to right on the starter's 115th pitch? Should Ian Desmond have thrown to first to get the slow-footed Alex Rodriguez after diving for and fielding A-Rod's two-on, two-out grounder to short?
Should Anthony Rendon have given Desmond a better angle to throw to third when Desmond tried to cut down the lead runner instead since it was a force play?
Desmond tried to go for third and the throw bounced off Flores and into foul territory allowing the eventual winning run to score in what ended up a 6-2 win for New York.
Desmond told reporters, including Washington Post writer James Wagner, that he hadn't yet gone back and looked at the play, but wherever he went it was going to be close.
"'It would’ve been a close play at third,'" he said, as quoted by the WaPost reporter. "'If I would’ve gotten up and threw across to first, it probably would’ve been a close play over there.'"
"If the throw is to the left side of the runner," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said, "we've got a chance, but we've also got a slower runner in Alex [Rodriguez] at the plate. He's not a speed demon, so if [Desmond] dives and catches that he's got a play at first as well. It depends on the angle, of course, and where he's going, but I think Desi's got a play at first too."
There are plenty of opinions on that, each of them valid and lots of questions from the decisive inning... but the big question from last night's game...
Why did Bryce Harper try to bunt with two strikes in the first at bat of the seventh inning?
On 2-strike bunt, Harper said just trying to get on base to start rally. MW: "We'll save that for another day." Clearly didn't like it.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) June 10, 2015
Harper said he was bunting with two strikes because he wanted to get on base. Asked about it, MW: "We'll save that one for another day."— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) June 10, 2015
We haven't had too many chances to question Harper's decision-making in the last month or two, so we'll give him a pass on that one. But seriously #stopbunting.
It's link time...
NATS BEAT: Loss to Yankees; Draft coverage; Mariano, Jr. take that Yanks, and you're not getting Harper either...
Loss in the Bronx:
• "Stomach on the ground, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond faced a critical decision with the game hanging in the balance." - "Nationals lose to Yankees after Desmond’s key error in seventh" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Three hours before first pitch, Bryce Harper stood at his locker, dressed in a gray T-shirt and a pair of Under Armour high-tops." - "Harper homers in first game at Yankee Stadium" - Alden Woods, nationals.com
• "Harper is only the fourth player in the last two decades with three 20-homer seasons before turning 23. The others: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez." - "Yankees 6, Nats 1: 7th inning spells doom for D.C." - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Harper -- who grew up rooting for the Yankees -- had never played a game in Yankee Stadium, let alone hit a home run." - "Harper hits 20th homer, but Scherzer falls to Yanks" - Grace Raynor and Alden Woods, nationals.com
• "The Washington Nationals were unable to break out of their two-week slump Tuesday, taking a tie game into the seventh inning but losing to the New York Yankees, 6-1." - "Ian Desmond's error proves costly as Nationals fall to Yankees, 6-1" - Tom Schad, Washington Times
Don't fit Harper for pinstripes just yet:
• "Bryce Harper’s first-ever trip to Yankee Stadium as a major leaguer included a requisite stop by Monument Park..." - "Harper won’t take bait before Yankee Stadium debut" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Asked by the New York media before Tuesday’s game if he has ever considered a future with the Yankees, Harper talked only about his current team." - "Bryce Harper on his first game at new Yankee Stadium and the Yankees" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Bryce Harper can't be a free agent for three-plus years, but there's already speculation that he's destined to one day be a Yankee." - "Bryce Harper plays down talk of becoming a Yankee" - Anthony McCarron, NY Daily News
Nats 2015 Draft coverage:
• "The Nationals hope they hit the jackpot with the 134th overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft on Tuesday, which they used to select Mariano Rivera Jr." - "Nats draft Mariano Rivera's son in 4th round" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "Stevenson's LSU season is still ongoing as the Tigers have advanced to the College World Series." - "Nationals Pastime: Rizzo on Stevenson: 'This guy plays 100 mph with his hair on fire'" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Turner is considered a possible replacement for Ian Desmond, who will be a free agent at year’s end and hasn’t reached a contract extension with the Nationals in past negotiations." - "Nationals can add Trea Turner as soon as this weekend" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "LSU center fielder Andrew Stevenson was the Nationals' first pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft on Monday as the No. 58 selection." - "Stevenson on getting call from Nats: 'I was just excited that they believe in how I play'" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "Once we got past the top group, we tried to focus on some pitching," Nationals Director of Scouting Kris Kline said. "Ended up getting two or three quality left-handed arms." - "Nationals draft day two: Rounds 3-10" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "The most noteworthy player taken by Washington was Mariano Rivera Jr., who is the son of the great Yankees closer, and he's a starter with potential." - "Collegiate pitching a theme for Nats on Day 2" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
Here's how the second day of the draft ended up for the Nationals. Spoiler alert: pitching, pitching, pitching. http://t.co/Zfpv4hwcAv— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) June 9, 2015
• "Wiseman, 20, is slashing .316/.418/.567 this season for the Commodores, who are still alive in the College World Series." - "Nationals Pastime: Nationals draft Vanderbilt's Rhett Wiseman and Iona's Mariano Rivera Jr." - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Rizzo held a conference call Tuesday morning to discuss the two draft picks along with assistant general manager Kris Kline and director of player development Mark Scialabba." - "Nats confident top two draft picks will sign with team" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
LOCAL DRAFT COVERAGE:
• "The Washington Nationals selected Alabama pitcher Taylor Guilbeau in the 10th round of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday." - "Alabama left-hander taken by Washington Nationals in MLB Draft" - Mark Inabinett, AL.com
• "Former Heelan standout and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year David Kerian was selected by the Washington Nationals in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday." - "Kerian selected by Nationals in ninth round" - Sioux City Journal.com
Nationals draft Mariano Rivera, Jr.:
• "Here is Nationals’ special assistant to the GM Jeff Zona on Rivera, Jr.: 'It was a day in Connecticut that I saw him. It was much the same as our scout [Jeff Malzone] who had tracked him. I mean, he sits mid-90s with his fastballs with a power, 80 mile per hour curveball.'" - "Nationals 2015 draft tracker: All the picks in one place" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
Rivera Jr. went 5-7 with a team-best 2.65 ERA (25 ER/85.0 IP) in 14 G/14 GS for Iona. He was named 2015 @MAACSports Pitcher of the Year.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 9, 2015
• "The Yankees drafted Rivera in the 29th round last year after his sophomore season at Iona, but did not come to terms." - "Nationals select Mariano Rivera Jr., son of former Yankees closer, with 133rd pick" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
Fister and Strasburg updates:
• "In his return from a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm, Nationals right-hander Doug Fister will make at least one more minor league rehab start." - "Updates on Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Rookie right-hander Joe Ross, who impressed in his major-league debut over the weekend, will start Friday at Milwaukee, Williams said, with Fister lined up to replace him after that turn." - "Fister to start Friday at Class AA, Strasburg to throw live BP" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Yankees win, the-uhhhhhhhh, Yankees win
Oddly sunny yet foreboding here at the Stadium pic.twitter.com/RzdkRbwi4N— Anthony McCarron (@AnthonyMcCarron) June 9, 2015
• "The Tanaka-Scherzer matchup was a highly anticipated one, pitting the premier free agents of the past two years against each other for the first time." - "Tanaka outduels Scherzer in Yankees' 6-1 win over Nationals" - Mark Feinsand, NY Daily News
• "Aside from a pitch or two, Tanaka pitched as sharp as he has all season." - "Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka sharp over 7 innings vs. Washington Nationals" - Ryan Hatch, NJ.com
• "For everything that is wrong about interleague play — and the list stretches from The Bronx to Washington D.C. — the Nationals-Yankees game was a delicious early-summer treat." - "Tanaka, Yanks outduel Scherzer, Nats for 7th straight win" - George A. King III, New York Post
• "One of baseball's most intelligent starting pitchers, Max Scherzer, was on the ESPN campus on Monday to talk baseball with the company's various platforms." - "Q&A with Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer" - Mark Simon, SweetSpot - ESPN
• "Now consider that Harper is 22 years old and is making just $2.5 million in salary this season, a mere pittance in an era in which the top players regularly make more than $20 million each year." - "The 20 biggest bargains in Major League Baseball" - Cork Gaines, Business Insider
Nats Minors: Mooneyham released; Purke pitches
• "The Washington Nationals have released lefty Brett Mooneyham, who was their third-round pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets." - "Former Stanford pitcher Mooneyham is released by Nationals" - Palo Alto Online
• Hagerstown 1 vs. Delmarva 7 - Matt Purke: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks - Hagerstown Suns Box
• Potomac 10 vs. Carolina 14 - 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks - Potomac Nationals Box
• Harrisburg 4 vs. New Britain 5 - Dakota Bacus - 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks - Harrisburg Senators Box
• "Toledo walked off with a 6-5 win in the opener, followed by a 7-4 Syracuse victory in game two." - "Syracuse Chiefs and Toledo Mud Hens split the doubleheader" - Syracuse Chiefs News
• Phillies: "Yes, actually. Wofford College junior Luke Leftwich's father, Phil, made 34 starts with the Angels from 1993-96, and his grandfather, Tom Timmermann, pitched six seasons with the Tigers (1969-73) and the Indians (1973-74)." - "Leftwich earns own way onto Phillies' radar" - Todd Zolecki, phillies.com
• Mets: "It is no secret the New York Mets have missed their most productive hitters. Still, Tuesday night’s showing proved depressing even by the team's recently paltry offensive standards." - "New York Mets react to being no-hit by Giants rookie Chris Heston" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN
• "Shutting down Harvey or deGrom prematurely—like the Washington Nationals infamously did with ace Stephen Strasburg in 2012—would devastate the Mets’ chances of competing for a championship this season." - "Mets’ Six-Man Plan Didn’t Even Last One Rotation" - Jared Diamond, WSJ
Safe and safe. pic.twitter.com/NZgZfycckN— #VoteBraves (@Braves) June 10, 2015
• Braves: "As Graham prepared for this past season with the University of Oregon, he agreed to the proposal to occasionally serve as a relief pitcher." - "Position switch lucky break for Braves pick Graham" - Mark Bowman, braves.com