Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Night's Nats Game

Last night marked the first game in which Joel Hanrahan came on to close out the game. Initial results weren't very pretty. Hanrahan got Jeremy Hermida to ground out to second, but then gave up a solo shot to Cody Ross to blow the save and tie the game. In the top of the tenth, the Marlins pushed across a run to provide the final margin.

The Nats made it interesting in the bottom of the tenth when Elijah Dukes led off with a ground-rule double to deep left, but it's not a traditional ground-rule double that hops over the fence. Instead, this ball gets stuck in the padding of the left field wall. Talk about hitting a ball hard!

Unfortunately, the Nats couldn't get him home after Josh Willingham flied out to right, Jesus Flores struck out looking, and Alberto Gonzalez struck out swinging. With a guy on second, no outs, and trailing by one run, shouldn't Willingham be bunting in that situation? I guess it's a question for Manny Acta Jim Riggleman who took over after Acta was ejected at the end of the third inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Here's how Chico Harlan, the Nats' beat writer at the Washington Post, summed up the game:
Bizarro day ended prematurely. The string of unexpected, pleasant developments dissolved just before the Washington Nationals could afford it. For nine innings last night, they had ceased operations as usual: The manager who never gets angry got angry, the team's principally non-quality rotation submitted a quality start, and a bullpen with little experience protecting slight leads got the chance to protect a slight lead.

And that's where the good fortune of a seemingly charmed night met its limitation. Starting in the ninth inning, with a clean victory needing just some quick initials, the Nationals found a way to lose in the most disquieting way possible, falling 3-2 to the Marlins in 10 innings. Closer Joel Hanrahan, in his first save situation of the year, gave up a game-tying home run. In the 10th, Saúl Rivera surrendered three hits and a run -- all avoidable had a close outside pitch to Dan Uggla been called strike three instead of ball three.
Here's the entire write-up: Pleasant Shifts, But Another Loss

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