Welcome back to Second Look, our day-after analysis of the previous day's Nationals game. Today, we're breaking down the Nationals' 11-7 loss to the Brewers on Sunday. Let's get right into it:
Ivan Rodriguez: The catcher has been nothing short of outstanding at the beginning of the year. He was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI on Sunday, and leads the National League with a .444 average.
Ian Desmond: Desmond had a big pinch-hit double in the seventh inning of Sunday's game, pulling the Nationals within three of the Brewers by driving in two runs on a hanging curveball from Manny Parra. When the Nationals still plan to give Cristian Guzman a good chunk of playing time at shortstop, it's good for them to see Desmond can contribute off the bench.
Adam Kennedy: Back at second base with Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup again, Kennedy went 3-for-4 with a run, and drove in another run.
Jason Marquis: We covered plenty of Marquis' struggles in the game story, but when you give up seven runs without retiring a batter, you're going to end up here. Marquis says he's healthy, and the Nationals haven't planned any medical examinations (at least not at this point), but Washington's big free-agent pickup needs to figure things out quick. He was the fifth pitcher in eight years to allow at least four runs without retiring a batter.
Adam Dunn: Dunn had a base hit, but went 1-for-5 on Sunday with a strikeout. He's hitting .162.
Josh Willingham: A slow day for the outfielder, who's been possibly the Nationals' most productive hitter early this year, but went 1-for-5 on Sunday.
In Case You Missed It:
--Desperate to get a matchup advantage and keep a rally going, manager Jim Riggleman pinch hit for his pinch hitter in the seventh inning. He brought Willie Harris in to bat for pitcher Tyler Walker and face Claudio Vargas, but when the Brewers replaced Vargas with left-hander Manny Parra, Riggleman countered by replacing Harris with Desmond. The gamesmanship worked, as Desmond drove in two runs with a double.
--Riggleman said third-base coach Pat Listach's decision to wave Desmond home on Adam Kennedy's single with two outs in the seventh was a good one. Desmond was thrown out at home on a bullet from center fielder Carlos Gomez, his attempt to jar the ball loose from catcher Gregg Zaun unsuccessful. But Alberto Gonzalez was on deck, and Listach stuck to his typical rule of being aggressive with two gone. "Two outs, the odds of extending the inning further with another hit, you pretty much got to take your chances," Riggleman said. "That was some throw, I'll tell you. (Gomez) is electric out there. That's as good of throw as you're going to see in a big-league ballgame. Anything less than that, we're probably going to be safe." Gomez's throw took one hop and spun toward the third-base side of the plate, so catcher Gregg Zaun could catch it in stride and have the plate completely blocked when Desmond came home, making Desmond's only option a collision at home.
--Tyler Walker pitched two scoreless innings on Sunday; he hasn't allowed a run in three of his four outings this year, with the only exception a three-run performance in 1 2/3 innings against the Mets on April 9.
1. What do you do with Marquis? Riggleman talked about pitching him on short or long rest to break up a routine that's led to a 20.52 ERA in his first three starts, and it's possible he would let Miguel Batista face the Dodgers in Marquis' next scheduled start while Marquis gets time to regain the feel on his pitches. Is one of those options best, or would you like to see something else?
2. Does what's happened with Marquis make you nervous about all the sinkerballers the Nationals have in their rotation? Things can go bad quickly for pitchers who lose the feel on their two-seam fastballs, and as Pudge Rodriguez said Sunday, it can take a while for them to get back to normal. The Nationals have some power pitchers on the way, but they've put together a pitch-to-contact staff of guys who throw two-seam fastballs and try to get grounders. Do they need to diversify more?
3. How much encouragement do you draw from the Nats' comeback? Is a loss a loss, or does it provide some evidence the bats are coming around?
More later today. In the meantime, leave your responses to the Talking Points in the comments section (click the orange "sign in" link to use an account from one of eight different places - Facebook, Gmail, AIM, etc. - and have comments approved automatically). Talk to you later!