Tyler Clippard is being overused.

Called upon again to protect a tie in the eighth inning, the gangly right-hander could not do the job Tuesday night, surrendering a no doubt about it solo home run to Ryan Ludwick, and the St. Louis Cardinals hung a fifth straight loss on a reeling Washington Nationals team, 3-2, before 36,345 at Busch Stadium.

"I just threw a bad pitch," Clippard said. "Bottom line, it happens."

Bad pitches do happen, but this one confused even the "experts".  Three different announcers on the broadcast described the 88 MPH pitch three different ways.  One thought it was a fastball that Clippard took something off.  One thought it was a change-up.  One couldn't tell what it was.

Clippard described it a "cutter with no bite."

Regardless what it was or supposed to be, Ludwick crushed it.  Clippard didn't even bother to turn around to watch it.

On top of the homer, Clippard--who was so good earlier in the season--also walked three batters in the frame, a career-high for an appearance.

"I feel good. I'm just not making the pitches when I need to," Clippard said. "That's the biggest thing right now. It happens. I'll just stay the course, still work hard. It's tough right now."

Clippard has appeared in half of the Nationals' 40 games.  He's on pace for 83 appearances and 113.1 innings, which would obliterate MLB career highs.

In his last seven and two-thirds innings, Clippard has allowed six runs and 10 hits.

It was a tough way to lose yet another close game.  The Nats have played 14 one-run games so far this season, with a record of 8-6.  Those things have a way of evening themselves out.  Three of the five games on the losing streak have been by one run.

The Nats have scored a grand total of 10 runs in those five games.

The loss takes away from the positive outing from starter John Lannan.  The lefty has dealt with soreness in his elbow much of the season, but Tuesday night looked like a return to his old reliable self.  He went six innings and gave up just two earned runs--on Felipe Lopez' two-run homer in the third inning.

Lannan gave up just five hits and more importantly, walked just one.

The Nats offense, however, did not have as good a night as their starting pitcher.

Missing their clean-up man once again with flu-like symptoms, the Nats eeked out nine base hits, but only two extra base hits:  Wil Nieves' third career home run, and Adam Kennedy's double.

Lead-off hitter Nyjer Morgan went 0-for-5 and is hitting .182/.265/.182 since May 6, going 8-for-44 with no extra-base hits in the time span.

Chris Carpenter (5-1, 2.80) got the win for St. Louis.  He went eight innings, giving up two runs--one earned--on nine hits.  He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

The Nationals limp home for a five-game homestand, starting with two games with the New York Mets, before a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles.  Livan Hernandez (4-2) goes on three days rest tonight against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, making his 2010 debut.

NATS NOTES:  Sean Burnett threw a scoreless inning of relief.

Cristian Guzman went 3-for-5, but failed to score from third base on a ground ball in the fourth inning.

Ian Desmond went 2-for-4 with an RBI single.

Food Network star Paula Deen will be at Nats Park today from 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm teaming up with Nationals players and their wives for the Nationals Annual Food Drive.  Deen will also host a VIP Military Reception from 5:00 - 6:00 pm with Smithfield Foods from the Nats Park Rooftop Party Deck.

3 comments

  1. Souldrummer // May 19, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

    Clippard is being overused at this point, but it's hard for me to blame the way that he was used earlier on in the year. We were trying to grab as many wins as possible and the momentum was there because of his efforts. There was probably the hope that we would score more runs. On the flip side, the overuse of Clippard has led to the moderate use of Capps. Hopefully, Storen will take off some of the pressure now that he's in town and will quickly earn the right to get some 8th inning time. Likewise at least Burnett, Slaten, and Walker are doing better jobs of getting us to Clippard lately.

    The problem is the continuing lack of blowouts and deeper starting pitching. Given that we are not blowing anyone out, I totally agree with you that our lack of offensive production in RF and CF and lately catcher are problems. Morgan I could live with if he wasn't doing so many stupid things. I think he'll continue to be around his career splits which would be acceptable if he cut down on the CS.

    Willie Harris will be a real litmus test for this organization. It's easier to cut the Bergmanns and the Bruneys of the world than to bench trade or delete weak performing veterans.

  2. cass // May 19, 2010 at 11:43 AM  

    Looks like a failed cutter to me. Clippard said it was spinning "like a cement mixer", so that sounds like it was probably spinning sideways instead of toward the plate. If you look at the pitch in pitch f/x below (it's the only one in cyan), it lacks the horizontal movement of his other attempted cutters, more like a fastball but slower and with more downward movement, kinda like a change-up. This is what Gameday algorithm classified it as, but it's certaily much faster and with different movement than his other changeups, which have more of the screwball movement. But I think the data backs up Clippard's description.

    Hopefully Storen can spell Clippard for a couple days if the Nats need a setup guy. I think Clippard needs some rest. Of course, Riggleman thinks it was a "good pitch", so who knows...



    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=5&day=18&year=2010&game=gid_2010_05_18_wasmlb_slnmlb_1%2F&pitchSel=461325&prevGame=gid_2010_05_18_wasmlb_slnmlb_1%2F&prevDate=518

  3. Dave Nichols // May 19, 2010 at 12:06 PM  

    yeah, the troubling thing, and Riggles has said it twice now, it that he thinks Clippard needs MORE work!

    i originally thought the pitch was a slider that didn't move for him. i could see the spin on the replay, but it didn't break. makes sense that the cement mixer was a failed cutter.

    p.s. thanks for the comments!