"It's pathetic. I've never seen a team that is okay with losing...Some guys are mailing it in, and it's hard to watch." --Rob Dibble, July 10, 2009.
THE RESULTS: Joel Hanrahan got his first win for the Nationals this season, despite the fact that he now plays for Pittsburgh and the guy he was traded for scored the winning run.
Then Washington went out and did what they do best (worst), kick the ball around and give up runs late in the game, and lost to a team that had their starter bounced in the third inning.
The Nats won the completion of the May 5 rainout game 11-10, as Nyjer Morgan scored on an errant throw by shortstop Miguel Tejada.
Hanrahan was the pitcher of record when rain forced the postponement back in May, and since the Nats scored in the bottom half of the inning as the "home" team, Hanny got the "W", sitting in his hotel room in Philadelphia on an off-day with his new tam, the Pirates.
"It feels pretty good in the situation that we're in. Houston is a team in our division and we gained ground." Hanrahan said he found out that he was the winning pitcher from a "bunch of text messages."
Seven of the players that took the field for the Nats on May 5 are no longer with the team.
In the second game, the Nats scored four runs in the first three innings, but did bot score again off five Houston relievers, and fell 9-4.
John Lannan (L, 6-6, 3.70) did not have a great start, giving up five earned runs on 11 hits and one walk, but he did leave in the bottom of the fifth tied at four.
Jason Bergmann relieved and struck out the first batter, but then gave up two hits, allowing Lannan's leftover runner to score.
Mike MacDougal surrendered a three-run home run to Lance Berkman in the bottom of the eighth to secure the victory for Houston.
Washington did not have a recorded error in the game, but there were several plays that an average fielding team would have made that could have changed the outcome.
Left fielder Adam Dunn botched two balls on back-to-back plays in the pivotal sixth inning. The first, a screaming line drive that went over his head to the wall went for a triple a he fumbled around to make the play.
The next play was a sinking line drive that could have been caught by someone more fleet-footed.
Asked about the plays afterwards, manager Manny Acta responded, "We didn't bring Dunn over here to play defense.
He is what he is, and we love the 40 home runs and the 100-something RBIs he's going to bring. Because we didn't have that here. I can't ask Dunn to play outfield like Nyjer Morgan plays it."
Cristian Guzman failed to field yet another ball hit to his left. The routine grounder bounced in and out of his glove as he attempted his now-patented "spin-slide" move to his left.
The next batter laced a ball to the right field alley, scoring two runs and knocking Lannan from the game.
Brought in to play defense in the bottom of the eighth, Alberto Gonzalez booted a ball that was ruled an infield single but could have easily gone as an error. Needless to say, that runner also scored, aboard when Berkman homered two batters later.
THE TAKEAWAY: Rob Dibble and Ray Knight were especially hard on the team in their comments on the post-game show, calling out the Nats for lack of effort and desire. Actually, Dibble called out unnamed specific guys for lack of hustle and effort.
"Well, I've seen it all year," Dibble said. "You have a team that came off a 102-loss season....Guys just aren't getting to balls, they're not trying, they're not diving, and more importantly, guys aren't calling them out...listen, our guys aren't doing as well as the other team."
He continued, "They need to be playing a lot harder than they are. What I'm saying is, it's not so much mailing it in physically, but mentally, some of these guys, they're happy after a ball game when they get their butts whipped, they're happy and smiling like it's funny when they're getting beat in day in and day out and embarrassed on that field.
"I know Manny Acta and I know these coaches are busting their butts to get the most out of these guys, but the players, they don't expect that out of each other in that locker room. That's what I'm saying."
OK Rob, tell us how you really feel. How about naming particular players you feel aren't hustling to your satisfaction?
The "Silver Fox" did.
From Ray Knight: "When guys don't make plays defensively I'd sit em on the bench. I'd give a guy a chance to play. And I'm talking about for a week, I don't care if you're hitting .320, I don't care what you're doing, I'm tired of seeing it too.
"We're just two former players who busted our butts, and we're here working for a company that you expect a fine product. "
"I don't know who exactly [Dibble's] feeling it about. I'm feeling it about certain people. But Manny has to make that decisions, or [Mike] Rizzo. If you think that there's a player out there not defining the position...
"Take shortstop. Balls are going up the middle, knocked down, erratic-type play. It looks like, to me, Guzie's mind is somewhere else. He's the guy I'm most disappointed in."
THE GOOD: They managed not to get swept. Ryan Zimmerman was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored in the second game.
THE BAD: Mike MacDougal. Brought in to "get some work" since this team has very little need for a closer, Big Mac was lit up like a Christmas tree. Three hits, a walk and a phantom hit-by-pitch led to three earned runs in one inning.
THE UGLY: Jason Bergmann. There were an awful lot of people calling for Bergy to get another shot and about he's been treated "unfairly" by the team.
But he just isn't that good when he gets a chance to perform in a critical situation. Called on in a tie game with runners on base, he just made the situation worse.
The maddening thing is, he got Jason Michaels to look silly, swinging at three straight really good sliders for the strikeout.
But then he left the ball up against slap hitter Michael Bourne who hit the triple Dunn had so much trouble with, and did the same for a single to Tejada.
NEXT GAME: Tonight against the Astros in Houston. Scott Olsen (2-4, 6.04) tries for his third straight effective performance since returning from the DL against Astros ace Roy Oswalt (5-4, 3.81).