The Washington Times - June 5, 2009, 11:54PM

The Nationals’ 3-1 loss to the Mets tonight was not because of any of the following things: A Jason Bergmann throwing error, a Cristian Guzman fielding error, a ball Adam Dunn lost in the lights for a double, and a hit and a walk Joe Beimel gave up to load the bases in the eighth.

Rather, it was primarily because of the two runs Joel Hanrahan gave up in the 10th inning. And at the heart of that breakdown was a difference of opinion between Hanrahan and manager Manny Acta on the closer’s approach to Luis Castillo, Carlos Beltran and David Wright.


Acta felt Hanrahan needed to throw his fastball more, instead of being so reliant on his slider. “He continues to have so much more confidence in that slider than the 95 miles per hour fastball,” Acta said. “It’s a tough one that we still have to be drilling into him … Perhaps he doesn’t have as much confidence as we have on it. It’s something that’s been discussed before, and it’s going to continue to come up with him.”

Hanrahan felt he threw the fastball enough, pointing out the pitch David Wright hit for a go-ahead two-run double was a fastball. “I have confidence out there, and that’s the main thing,” Hanrahan said. “I have confidence in every pitch I threw out there. I made some decent pitches that they beat me on today.”

Here’s what the numbers say:

9th inning: Hanrahan threw eight pitches—five fastballs, two sliders and a changeup.

10th inning: Hanrahan threw 30 pitches—20 fastballs, 10 sliders.

Against Luis Castillo, Hanrahan threw two fastballs to run the count to 0-2. He then threw a slider on 0-2, thinking he could get Castillo to chase the pitch; Castillo, who has never struck out more than 78 times in a season, reached low and punched it for a single.

“That’s kind of been my strikeout pitch there. Early in the year, I was striking people out with my slider,” Hanrahan said. “It’s a situation where I probably could have thrown fastball and tried to get him to put the ball in play, because he doesn’t strike out a whole lot. I tried to put one in the dirt there, and it didn’t get to where it needed to be.”

Against Beltran, Hanrahan threw one slider, on a 1-0 count for a ball. He walked Beltran on five pitches, four of them missing the outside edge of the plate. “He was just missing,” Acta said. “You don’t want to be first and second with no outs.”

Against Wright, Hanrahan started with three fastballs. Wright swung at two, and took one for a ball. Then he tried a 1-2 slider, again hoping Wright would chase low and away. He didn’t, and the third baseman, who entered the night with a .385 average against Hanrahan, hit a 2-2 fastball that Hanrahan said he overthrew for the go-ahead runs.

“I made some good pitches,” Hanrahan said. “They’re some good hitters. I had Castillo 0 and 2, and he hit the ball off the ground almost, and I made some pitches to Beltran that probably could have gone either way. I ended up walking him, and I wasn’t able to put Wright away. That was pretty much the game right there.”

That’s about as detailed of an analysis as I can provide for tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow for the second game of the weekend series, starting at 7:05. It’s finally supposed to stop raining for that one.

Two more things: I know I owe you Strasburg extras; didn’t have time to get to that today, but I’ll post them tomorrow. Also, a reminder come check out our Twitter feed, where we’re posting in-game analysis and generally hanging out during games.