Washington Nationals lose to Philadelphia Phillies, 7-1, in 2010 home finale
Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 9:57 PM
Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals walked off their home field for the final time in 2010, headed toward a day off and three meaningless games in New York. The Philadelphia Phillies headed into the postseason for the fourth straight year, the best record in the National League in their back pocket.
Nationals Park closed for the season roughly the same way it opened, with the Philliess - this time playing with a lineup that closely resembled something seen in Lehigh Valley - offering an emphatic reminder that they and the Nationals in separate stratospheres of the baseball universe. The Phillies played their junior varsity and still clobbered the Nationals, 7-1, blasting four home runs off Ross Detwiler in his final start this season.
A crowd of 20,026 watched the home finale, giving the Nationals a total attendance of 1,828,066, almost 11,000 more than last season. Washington ended the year 41-40 at home, tying its best home record since baseball returned in 2005.
The Nationals ended 6-12 against the Phillies, the team they must somehow surpass in order to contend in the NL East. Over this season and especially Wednesday night, when the Phillies started two regular position players and still walloped them, it has seemed an unimaginable task.
"We are in the process of closing the gap," General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "But we're still a long way away from the Philadelphia Phillies. They run at you three stud, front-of-the-rotation pitchers, and we can't say that at this point. Until we close that gap, they're still way ahead of us."
It might have been the last Nationals home game for first baseman Adam Dunn, who went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. As Dunn stood in the on-deck circle for his final at-bat in the ninth inning, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and chanted, "Sign Adam Dunn!" The chants remained during his at-bat, and after Brad Lidge struck him out he received another cheer.
Before the game, Rizzo reaffirmed his desire to reach an agreement with Dunn. But he also acknowledged he may need to look into alternatives.
"We need to get a four-hole hitter that plays first base," Rizzo said. "We understand that. We want it to be Adam Dunn. But if it isn't, we need to address that situation."
It was definitely the last home game for outgoing team President Stan Kasten, who as usual mingled with fans and watched from behind home plate. After their nightly dash the Racing Presidents held up signs reading, "We Will Miss You Stan." The video board showed a short tribute to Kasten. Teddy Roosevelt, with Rizzo standing beside him, handed him a sheet of cupcakes.
The happenings on the field stifled the potential farewell and the warm goodbye. Detwiler, making his fifth start of the season, gave himself reason for plenty of uncomfortable thoughts this offseason. He allowed seven earned runs in 42/3 innings against a lineup whose only two regulars were Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.
Detwiler had made progress in his last start, which was his first in more than a month, by allowing two runs in six innings. On Wednesday, he became the 28th pitcher this season to allow at least four home runs in a game, and he allowed them to three players who had combined for 26 starts all season.
Mike Sweeney and Ben Francisco drilled back-to-back home runs to lead off the second inning. John Mayberry, making his first start of the season, blasted a three-run homer in the fourth inning, and Francisco ended Detwiler's night with a two-run shot in the fifth.
The Nationals' bullpen customarily followed a truncated start with several innings of dominance. Miguel Batista, Collin Balester, Joel Peralta and Doug Slaten held the Phillies one hit over the final 41/3 innings.
Their good work did little to mitigate the Phillies' dominance. The Nationals lingered in their dugout so they could hand out souvenirs to fans as the Phillies retreated to the visiting clubhouse, a place where they have become awfully comfortable.