Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Long & Winding Road

Shaky defense. A complete lack of timely hitting (what else is new?). A gutsy pitching effort spoiled by an offensive goose egg. Questionable decision-making by the coaching staff. Just another summer evening in front of 19,169 (mainly Mets) fans along the Acacostia, my friends.

On the bright side, last night was easily Tyler Clippard's best relief outing of the year. He was lights out, displaying a nice array of breaking balls and up-and-in heat (I'm guessing 90-92 mph); however, Riggleman decided to pinch hit for him with one out and nobody on base in the 7th, with 0-3 for Nyjer in the on-deck circle. This was a questionable move in my opinion, as Riggleman is struggling to gain the trust of his players. Sticking with Clippard, although probably conceding defeat, would've been a non-move that showed Riggleman's confidence in his 'pen and, more importantly, rewarding an outstanding effort that's been seen so few and far between this year.

Earlier, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning, with the Nats already down 5-0 and Martin squandering near the 50-pitch mark, Riggleman decided to leave Martin in the game to bat. Not surprisingly, Martin weakly grounded out to the pitcher, boosting Livan's confidence and squashing one of the few offensive threats the Nats showed all night.

As a fan of National League baseball and a proponent of lengthy starting pitching outings, I was torn by this decision. On the one hand, I wanted to see Riggleman maintain confidence in his debuting pitcher. The guy has struggled for many years, and through a host of injuries, to finally pitch in the big leagues; therefore, I didn't want to see him pulled after 2 innings simply because of the 'opportunistic situation'. Besides, there were two outs. On the other hand, Washington's offense has chilled significantly as of late (post mid-May) and an early, ballsy pinch-hitting call by Riggleman, if effective, would've awakened the crowd and put hope back into the ballclub.

Highlights: BardDogg's bat (2 doubles), Clippard's placement (5K's in 3 innings), the stadium's organ player (Iron Butterfly's 'In A Gada Davida' tease, among other hidden gems.....I swear he was high.)

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