Looking for excuses?

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Sunday’s 7-0 loss to the Mets was not pretty. Craig Stammen had a terrible first inning, and though he recovered, the stain of that first frame could not be erased. The Nats’ lineup, meanwhile, was shut down yet again (they’ve now scored a total of 17 runs in their last 10 losses). Even new closer Mike MacDougal, pitching in a non-save situation in the ninth, allowed a run on a hit, a walk and an error on himself.

That’s now 10 losses in 12 games, 22 in 27 games, for Washington. It was disappointing to me that a couple of excuses were thrown out there following today’s. I don’t mean to nitpick, but these weren’t the kind of answers I would expect to hear from a team struggling as much as this one is.

We’ll start with Stammen, who walked the game’s first batter (Alex Cora) on four pitches, a walk that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

“It’s not good to walk the first guy on four pitches,” he said. “I mean, it’s not like there were really bad pitches, like I wasn’t even close. I just didn’t quite get the call.”

I know Craig is a rookie and may not know better, but some veteran in the clubhouse needs to tell him not to complain about close calls by the plate umpire after giving up five runs in the first inning. Lesson learned.

Next, here’s Manny Acta’s answer to a question about their offensive struggles against Livan Hernandez (who tossed seven shutout innings):

“We have a lot of young hitters, and when he’s on, he can just prey on those young guys, tease them with those pitches just barely off the strike zone,” the manager said. “He keeps expanding it and the guys just keep going after it. He just had a very good game against us.”

Actual age of each member of Washington’s starting lineup today:

Cristian Guzman: 31

Nick Johnson: 30

Ryan Zimmerman: 24

Adam Dunn: 29

Elijah Dukes: 25

Austin Kearns: 29

Josh Bard: 31

Anderson Hernandez: 26

So that’s five guys 29 or older, plus Zimmerman (who’s in his fourth big league season) and then Dukes and Hernandez. That’s not a “young” lineup. Inexperience was not an excuse for today’s lineup.

Seems like a good time for an off-day.

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Mark Zuckerman

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