Nats’ Pen Can’t Corral Brewers

The Washington Nationals’ bullpen couldn’t hold onto a hard fought Washington lead, and the Nats were downed by a modest but effective late-inning rally in Milwaukee, 7-6 on Tuesday. The loss came at the expense of Nationals’ reliever Henry Rodriguez, who gave up a two out, two strike bleeder down the left field line to Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy in the 8th inning. “That’s baseball,” Rodriguez said after the game. “You guys saw what happened. It’s part of the game. It was a jam shot, and it fell in.” The hit was just enough for the Brewers to notch their eighth straight victory at home.

The bullpen, which has been stellar for the Nationals this year, looks like it’s starting to fade. Tyler Clippard was ineffective in the 7th, Rodriguez (who came in for Sean Burnett) was ineffective in the eighth — but nearly the entire crew has been struggling of late. Nationals skipper Jim Riggleman noted that the Washington pen has been the team’s highlight reel, but that it was almost fated that it would go through a rough time: “Our bullpen’s done a great job holding leads, and it just didn’t happen tonight.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It doesn’t look good for Adam LaRoche. Bill Ladson writes that the first baseman has major shoulder issues and could face surgery — but first he’ll rest his arm, which includes at least two weeks of not touching a baseball . . . Michael Morse is swinging the bat. After a great Spring Training, Morse had trouble out of the gates. His grand slam home run last night is evidence that his power swing is back, but he’s also hitting for average. In mid-May he was hitting .235, he exited last night’s game at .282. He’s hitting over .400 in his last ten games . . .

It’s funny the way things happen. Over the winter, some Nationals fans were urging Rizzo, Riggleman & Company to forego a free agent contract for a first base replacement for the departed Adam Dunn (who’s hitting all of .192 in the Windy City) and put Morse at first base. Part of the argument was that the Nationals could spend their money more wisely on an outfielder with a good bat: to replace the departed Josh Willingham (who’s hitting .233 for the White Elephants). Now they have their wish. It looks like the Nationals are about to go with a set line-up of Rick Ankiel in center, Roger Bernadina in left — and Morse at first. That’s not bad, except that Morse will not only have to keep hitting, but step up his defensive game. Adam LaRoche was a wizard at first, and his glove will be missed . . .

One of our more regular readers and a CFG fan (here he is), sent along a piece from Wired magazine (that’s a first, because most of our readers read Maxim) noting the May 24 anniversary of the first baseball game played under the lights. It’s a pretty good read, and notes that erecting lights at Crosley Field was part of a desperate measure to keep the Reds in the Queen City (that would be Cincinnati of all places). Lights caught on around the rest of the league, the article noted, except in Chicago, where lights (and winning) were a late addition . . .

And speaking of firsts, if you haven’t read the article on the New York Mets ownership (and the Fred Wilpon-Bernie Madoff fiasco) in the New Yorker you should. The article is long, but you can do it (and you’re all grown up now, and it’s time), and it gives a fair and even sympathetic picture of the Mets’ owner and his struggles to keep his team. We were all set to dislike the guy (as with everything else blue and orange), but ended up thinking that, despite all of his problems with financing, Wilpon not only seems like a good sort, but (surprise, surprise) knows his baseball . . .