She’s Not Pretty, But Has a Great Personality
I know pretty when I see it. There was lots of it last night at Nationals Park. But when my attention was drawn to the field where the Nationals beat the White Sox 8-7, well, let’s just say that when Davey Johnson described the Nationals’ win as “not pretty,” he was just being kind.
It’s the sort of kindness one got when told that a blind date had a “great personality.” Everybody loves the long ball and Washington has hit fourteen of them, one shy of the Rockies for the NL lead. It suffices as “personality” for these early games and gets the fan to look past the many “blemishes” that have so far marred the Nationals very sloppy start to the 2013 season.
One person who has refused to see them is David Vincent, the official scorer at NationalsPark. Washington is tied for the league lead in errors—eight—with the Cubs. I have not seen a Chicago game, so I cannot attest to their official scoring, but when Ian Desmond was not given an error last night for muffing a routine ground ball in the heat of the sixth inning, it was a compound error.
There was the botched play by Desmond–who already has four errors–that allowed Ramirez to reach after the White Sox had scored the tying run and then there was the egregious error of judgment by Vincent when he decided Alexi would have reached anyhow, despite the fact that there was a force at second.
There just hasn’t been a lot of “pretty,” especially when Davey Johnson has made the call to the bullpen. The best pitching staff in baseball in 2012 has a team ERA of 4.57, near the bottom of the National League. But when you isolate the bullpen numbers it is even worse. In nearly 20 innings of work, Soriano, Clippard, Storen and company have given up 18 earned runs.
Raphael Soriano has three saves, but an ERA of 9.00. Tyler Clippard has looked good but gave up a three-run home run to Paul Konerko in the eighth inning last night to boost his ERA to 6.75. Drew Storen had one rough outing, but he has been hitting the catcher’s mitt consistently with his usual 95+ mph fastball and his 3.00 ERA is the best of the bunch.
Yes, it is early and Davey Johnson is right not to be overly concerned. But one has to wonder from where all the sloppiness originates. Bryce Harper had a single into the right field gap that was fielded cleanly by Alex Rios who promptly gunned down Harper as he challenged one of the better right field arms in the game. It is those sorts of errors in judgment by the Nationals that have been almost as common place as the misplays that have made the scorer’s official tally.
It is clear from this first week that the Nationals are not going to waltz their way to the National League pennant. The Atlanta Braves and the Upton brothers are playing great baseball. Washington will need to play their best baseball over the course of the long season to head the Braves. We will get a look at that match up this weekend as the two teams go head-to-head this weekend.
There are two games left in the Chicago series and after last night’s nail-bitter, they promise to be exciting. But the starting pitchers for Friday night’s game at NationalsPark are likely to be Julio Teheran for Atlanta and Ross Detwiler for the Nats. Detwiler has looked better than any other Washington pitcher dating back to last year’s playoffs. Both teams are hitting the long ball, there will likely be some pretty fair pitching as well–enough “personality” to keep everyone happy.