Last night's game came down to one mistake. Paul Maholm hung a ball out over the plate that Ian Desmond didn't miss. Zimmerman didn't make any mistakes, so he won. However, is it really that easy to just write off this game as a buzzsaw pitcher getting the best of our lineup? To me, and I don't say this very often, I think we got out-managed in that game. I think Fredi G has done a great job, and I rarely question his decisions, but he made a glaring error in our choice of lineup yesterday, while Davy Johnson made a move that put the Nats in a position to win the game.
What I'm talking about is Fredi's decision to leave Reed Johnson and Chris Johnson off the lineup yesterday, two hitters that are both extremely hot against Zimmerman. Instead, we got BJ and Francisco, both of whom are extremely cold hitters at the back of the lineup. Francisco and BJ have never had a hit off Zimmerman. Chris and Reed, on the other hand, were 4/9 combined against Zimmerman lifetime. As a result, the 6-7-8 hitters in our lineup didn't even touch a base. They went a combined 0/9 with 6 Ks. They barely touched the ball. I can assume that Chris and Reed would have made contact, since they were hitting at an almost .500 clip against Zimmerman already. Meanwhile, Davy Johnson made the decision to put the only hot batter he had in the lineup, Ian Desmond, into the cleanup spot. Desmond has never hit there for the Nats, but they were looking for anything to get back on track. Guess what? Ian Desmond won the game with a bomb. I'll say it again, we got out-managed in this game, and I think Fredi would admit to himself he made an error with his lineup decisions in hindsight.
Now, that will be one of the few times I will have to bring that up, because I expect Fredi to push the right buttons 95% of the time with the information we have. Maholm deserved better in that game than to be punished for one bad pitch with a loss. Sometimes that's the breaks. I give Paul a lot of credit for pitching what was essentially a fantastic game, and a probably winner on most days. It's just that Zimmerman pitched like he was in the World Series out there, and the leaky boat of the Nats bullpen never came into play.
There were some things I liked. Despite Schafer not getting on base, he did a great job in the leadoff spot as a pesky hitter, seeing 26 pitches in 4 ABs. That's not only frustrating for a starter, it's exactly what I want from a leadoff guy whether he gets the hits or not. Justin was great as usual with the only hit besides Maholm's. Freddie continues to make good contact but he's not getting them to fall yet. That will come. Uggla, BJ, and Juan still look completely lost out there, and I don't want to see them grouped at the back of our lineup. It's just automatic out territory right now.
The CPA predicted a shutout, but it was wrong about the team. Go figure. However, the CPA's numbers were based on the assumption of Reed and Chris playing, so that was a bit of a departure from the norm. Let's see how it looks at Game 4, and the possibility of winning the series.
Game 4 Prediction: Braves 6 - Nats 2
Dan Haren is struggling on the road, and the Braves can really punish him with some homers. He's given up 6 bombs in 5 starts, and he's lost both of his road games by a margin of 21 total. He was destroyed by the Reds, and then got roughed up by the Marlins. Let that sink in. The MARLINS. We shouldn't let this fool come in our house and give us issues. Medlen has a home ERA of just above 2, so I think he can wrangle the Nats lineup if he keeps the ball down in the zone.