Despite a 5-5 performance from Cristian Guzman, an 0-4 day from Chase Utley, and a 9th inning rally against one of the most successful closers in baseball, the Nationals lost again today 9-8 to drop to 0-7 overall in 2009.For anyone who watched the Nats today in their home opener, it was a surprise that this game was even close for as long as it was. For much of the game the Nationals looked like amateurs as recently recalled Anderson Hernandez made two costly errors and Daniel Cabrera looked completely lost on the mound. In fact the amount of second chances the Phillies received was downright staggering.
No inning better represented the season thus far for the Nationals than the second inning Monday . With a runner on first and one out, Rual Ibanez reached first on a fielding error by Anderson Hernandez who instead of ending the inning with the double play, extended it for Daniel to pitch himself into trouble. Cabrera then walked the next two batters on 9 pitches, including Chris Coste which allowed Jason Werth to score. Jamie Moyer then hit a sac fly to score Ibanez, and as quickly as you could blink a beady screetch eye, the Nats had fallen behind 2-1 in an inning that should have been over.
Things didn't get any easier for Cabrera. At times his fastball only topped out at 88-89 MPH, which is shocking to anyone who watched him pitch in Baltimore. Cabrera had been renowned for his ability to throw gas, whether or not it was close to the plate. It seemed Monday however like Cabrera was trying to throw darts, trying not to make mistakes, and in the process he was creating more and more problems. For Cabrera to be successful this season as a National, he will need to harness his talents, not avoid them.
In the seventh inning, last years stand-by guy Saul Rivera stepped to mound to keep the game tied at fours. He did not do his job. In one inning pitched he allowed two hits, four runs, and two bombs. While this type of performance is rare for Rivera, as he has only given up 4 homers in his last 161 games, his lack of ability to perform when the game was within reach cost his team the game.
Dukes is back
As we said before, hopefully Acta's experiment with Austin Kearns is over. Dukes went 2-5 today with a home run and a double. He has more than proves his worthiness to be an everyday starter not only on this club, but someday soon on every club I the bigs. Elijah flat out has all-star talent and there is no way Austin Kearns should be a roadbloack in that happening.
At one point Bob Carpenter referred to Dukes today as the strongest guy in the ball-park. That's high praise considering the presence of Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, and yes, Matt Stairs. While its hard to believe, seeing him muscle an outside breaking pitch with one hand over the left field fence may have made me a believer.
The Nats are now 0-7. Ugly, embarrassing, and disappointing are words that come to the mind of the fan when thinking of the Nats. Liability is the word that comes to them when thinking about Acta. Don't expect it to be long before he see's the axe, but they should win at least one game before it happens.