Friday, May 3, 2013

Game 4 Recap: Nationals 5/2/13

I'm still mad about last night's game. Kris Medlen is some bizarro version of himself from last year where he can't win a game against anybody but Miami. He's also a disaster in the 2nd inning. Medlen has given up 6 runs total in the 2nd inning in his last 3 starts. They've all been losses. Mentally, we're putting our team into a hole early where the bats have to get more agressive, because the opposing starter is just going to fire strikes at us. You don't need to worry about working corners as a starter when you have a 3 run lead and nobody on base. That's the position we were in from the 2nd inning on, and we didn't get good wood on many of Dan Haren's pitches.

I'm getting tired of seeing BJ Upton out there every day. There, I said it. He's had one hit now in the last 6 games. Justin Upton has actually had a terrible last 7 days, batting around .180. It's not a shock we're losing, since we have 5 starters batting under .200 in the last week. Ridiculous. Gattis is one of the few guys hitting the ball well right now, along with Freeman, Simmons, and CJ. Other than that? Basically our pitchers are the only guys swinging the bats.

So, we split a series we should have won very easily. Dan Haren's never gone 8 innings this season, but we made him look like a world-beater. Why did that happen? Well we didn't get a hit until the 4th inning. It's not that the lineup was striking out either. We were free swinging on the first or second pitch, but we weren't making solid contact on many of them. Haren was essentially throwing strikes without worry, and he had enough movement on his pitches to keep them off the barrel of the bat. Before you knew it, it was the 8th inning, and Dan only had to throw 90 pitches. He could have closed out the game, but they didn't need it.

People will say that Medlen had a hard luck loss, but that's not the case at all. He has to stop giving up early runs before we can say he's back to form as a starter. The error by CJ that ended up not being an error hurt, but Kris still gave up 7 hits and 3 walks in this game. He still wasn't getting the ball where he wanted until the middle innings, and by then it's far too late. Now you may say, "Wow Ben, Medlen only gave up 3 runs. Settle down. The offense was the problem here, right?"

No, it's deeper than that, and yes, Medlen giving up the first run to the opposing team has a large effect on our ability to win. Why? Because right now the Braves are 13-2 when we score first, and we're 4-9 when we don't score first. This team is mentally built to play with an early lead, or a close game. When we're down by more than 1 run early we get hyper-agressive at the plate, and we don't play catchup very well. It's a mental issue with our offense as much as an overall problem with holes in our lineup. These are the kinds of things we need to work on during the season, because we're not going to have a lead all the time. We need to be able to have guys stay in the game mentally and not hang our heads while chasing bad pitches. Also we need Medlen to stop spotting teams a couple of runs before we get to bat twice.

Series preview on the Mets will be up later today. They are 4 games under .500, so I'm hoping we have more favorable results this weekend while dodging raindrops.


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