"We made too many mistakes. A lot of bad things happened that we can't continue to allow. We've got to do a better job of handling the details of the running game."-- Jim Riggleman, Sept. 16, 2009.
THE RESULT: Poor baserunning, yet another botched squeeze and a meatball from a reliever for a grand slam resulted in the Washington Nationals 95th loss of the season. They haven't all come at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies, but it seems like half of them have.
In reality, it's the 14th loss against just three wins to the N.L. East's leader.
Once again, the Nats had runners thrown out on the base paths. In the second inning, Livan Hernandez bunted – apparently on his own again – trying to bring Ian Desmond in from third, who had doubled and took third on Wil Nieves' infield hit.
The bunt went straight back to Phillies starter Joe Blanton (W, 10-7), who threw to third to nab Desmond.
In the sixth inning, Justin Maxwell drew a walk with one out after Desmond reached on a single. Nieves hit a soft liner to right that Jayson Werth grabbed and caught Maxwell confused and off base for a double play.
Philly's first run came courtesy of a double steal, with Nieves throwing through to second base to try to catch Ryan Howard. Chase Utley practically walked home.
The big blow came in the seventh inning. Tyler Clippard hit Utley with two outs. Sean Burnett came in to pitch to Howard, but Utley stole second, so they put Howard on first with the base open. After a nine pitch at bat, Burnett walked Raul Ibanez, and just like that, without a hit, the bases were juiced.
Of course, Jason Bergmann came in to face Werth, and the right fielder took the fifth offering – a letter high breaking ball that did not break – to the bleachers in left center for the grand slam. Ball game.
The victim in all this was Livan Hernandez. He was strong again, going six innings and allowing just two earned runs on seven hits and two walks. The effort lowered his season record to 8-11.
Washington left 10 men on base.
THE TAKEAWAY: It's hard to imagine the amount of outs the Nats give away on the bases. It seems like every night that baserunning errors result in shortened innings. Wednesday night, it was Desmond and Maxwell – two rookies – to get thrown out in bad plays.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman likes to be aggressive on the base paths, but that philosophy and strategy is proving questionable.
THE GOOD: Desmond and Nieves each had two hits, and Willie Harris reached three times in the leadoff spot.
THE BAD: The 2-3-4-5 hitters. 0-for-15. Not good.
THE UGLY: Cristian Guzman. 0-for-5 and left seven men on base. Special mention to Josh Willingham, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Over the last 23 games, Willingham is hitting .165/.287/.329 with three homers and nine RBI. As hot as he was during the summer, that is as cold as he's been the past month.
NEXT GAME: Thursday, at 7:05 for the finale of the three game series. Last chance for the Nats to eek out win No. 4 against Philly this season. J.D. Martin (4-4, 4.29) versus Cole Hamels (9-9, 4.21).
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!