Ouch. The Nationals got pounded 12-1 by the Florida Marlins last night, a loss that, coupled with Houston's 8-6 win over Philly, drops the Nats to three and a half games behind Houston in the Wild Card standings. The score tells you pretty much all you need to know about last night's drubbing, but the game also featured a solid start by Florida's Cy Young candidate Dontrelle Willis (who improved to 20-8 on the year) and a starting effort by John Halama that could probably be described as laughable if not for the fact that the Nats are still in the Wild Card hunt. Halama-lama-ding-dong (sorry, we couldn't help ourselves there) lasted just two thirds of an inning, giving up a run on two hits and a walk. A familiar cast of Travis Hughes, Jason Bergmann, Joey Eischen, Gary Majewski, Hector Carrasco and Mike Stanton followed Halama to the hill and chipped in to allow 11 more runs.
[NE] wonders why manager Frank Robinson had such a quick hook with Halama, just a night after rookie starter Darrell Rasner lasted just two and two-thirds innings in a 4-2 loss that featured most of the previously mentioned cast of weary bullpen arms: Bergmann, Stanton, Hughes, Majewski, and Carrasco? Old Frank's explanation: "I didn't like what I saw...I wasn't going to sit there and wait till he gave the game away in the first inning. You're going to pitch for me, you're going to throw strikes." Seems like with a guy like Halama, a veteran of eight big league seasons, one might show a little bit more patience, especially considering that the starting rotation is in shambles.
>Meanwhile, with the Nats essentially relying on three arms (Livan, Loaiza, Patterson) in a last gasp push for the playoffs, [NE] notes that old friend Tomo Ohka earned his 10th win of the season for the Brewers in a tidy performance on Monday against the Reds. Ohka's line: 7IP, 3H, 1ER, 6K. File under: "Why can't we get players like that?" No truth to the rumor that Junior Spivey, acquired from Milwaukee for Ohka earlier in the season, was seen warming up in the bullpen in the 9th inning of last night's game. Nah. Spivey, on the shelf since July with a fractured right radius, was transferred from the 15 to the 60-day DL on Tuesday.
>John Patterson squares off against Josh Beckett in the finale of the four game series tonight; and it doesn't get any easier for the Nats as the NL East leading Braves come to town this weekend. With just 22 games remaining on the schedule as of today, we should have a better idea on Monday of whether the Nats will be playing 'meaningful' games as the season winds down.
>The only positive aspect to last night's loss? Career minor leaguer Rick Short's first major league home run. Short actually missed a second homer in the bottom of the 7th on a long fly ball to left that probably would've found the other side of the wall in any park other than RFK, a.k.a. The Stadium where Long Fly Balls Go to Die.
>Ryan "Don't call me Brooks Robinson" Zimmerman made two errors in his first start at shortstop. Zimmerman also hit a double in the 2nd inning, one of only 4 Nats' hits off of Willis.