"I just missed it. Plain and simple. Saw it the whole way, just didn't catch it." --Nick Johnson, June 12, 2009.
: The Washington Nationals
took a 3-0 first inning lead in their first trip to Tampa's Tropicana Field. But the combination of sloppy defense and the Nats batters taking the rest of the night off cumulated in a 4-3 loss to the Rays
, before just 18,273 fans of the reigning AL Champions.
Two more errors, giving the Nats a league-leading 59 errors on the season, directly contributed to Rays runs.
On a double steal attempt in the third inning, catcher Josh Bard air-mailed a throw to third that sailed into left field, allowing B.J. Upton to walk home with a run.
In the eighth inning, with the game tied at three, Nick Johnson flat dropped a foul pop-up by Gabe Kapler, giving the pinch-hitter another swing. He deposited the next pitch from Ron Villone (L, 3-2, 0.49) into the bleachers for a solo home run and the win.
Nats starter Craig Stammen went 5.1 innings, allowing three runs—two earned—on just four hits and three walks. He struck out a season-high five.
(16-43-1) got three runs in the first courtesy of an Adam Dunn RBI single and two-run double from Elijah Dukes, who received a tremendous ovation from a large group of friends and family. Dukes is from the Tampa area.
THE TAKEAWAY: The poor fielding continues to be a killer for this team, and it's not just the total number of recordable errors, though they are the league worst in total errors. The Nats have five of the NL's "leaders" in individual errors. Cristian Guzman (8), Adam Dunn (7) and Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Johnson and Alberto Gonzalez with six each.
Teams are going to go through streaks and slumps hitting and pitching, but fielding is a constant. By the time you reach the big leagues, you are either a good fielder or a poor one. This team is full of poor fielders.
THE GOOD: Adam Dunn. He went 2-for-2 with two walks. Scored a run and drove in a run. And no errors, since he was at his natural position: DH.
THE BAD: Ron Villone. He didn't miss the pop-up, but he did groove the next pitch to let a .183 hitting pinch-hitter beat him for a home run.
THE UGLY: Josh Bard. In addition to the throwing error, he failed to throw out any of the five stolen base attempts against.
NEXT GAME: Today at 6:08 p.m. Jordan Zimmermann (52 IP, 2-3, 5.71 ERA, 54 Ks, 14 BBS) faces Andy Sonnanstine (63 IP, 4-6, 7.00 ERA, 33 Ks, 18 BBs).