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The pride to perform

Sep 15, 2010, 3:50 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez earned his 10th win and clubbed his first homer in beating the Braves.

ATLANTA โ€” Pride comes in different forms for different players. For Ian Desmond, it's the desire to put a bad game behind you and come right back the next night and do something special. For Adam Dunn, it's the rush of beating a team in the thick of a pennant race and playing spoiler for at least one night. And for Livan Hernandez, it's the simple act of taking a baseball every fifth day and doing everything in his power to help his team win.

The Nationals have had their effort questioned a few times this season, including as recently as Sunday when Jim Riggleman and his coaches gave them a tongue-lashing after an uninspiring performance against the Marlins.

There was no questioning it tonight during a 6-0 victory over the Braves. It was all there on display, from Dunn's tape-measure home run to Desmond's exclamation point blast in the ninth to Danny Espinosa's hustle to Livo's pitching (and hitting) brilliance.

Put it all together, and you've got the end of a six-game losing streak that clearly had been weighing on everyone's minds. How much did the Nats need a win?

"I would say pretty bad," Dunn said. "We're just a weird team. We just can't seem to put everything together on a consistent basis. Everything's here. But we get good pitching for two weeks andRead more ยป

  1. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Sep 15, 2010 at 5:02 AM

    Riggs really seems to have tied his destiny to Ian Desmond. I remember a game a couple months ago when Desmond was just brutal in the field, making errors on the easiest plays. After the game when asked about Dessie, Riggs said; "I'd take nine of him."Maybe Ramons, Dessie and Espinosa are the answer up the middle. Oh, yeah, and what about what's-his-name in center?

  2. Section109 - Sep 15, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    I am on vacation in Venice (Italy, not CA) and must say bravo to Livo, Dunn, Desmond and the rest of the guys! BTW, some of the pop-up ads here are in Italian. Best to Mark & folks at home.

  3. Big Cat - Sep 15, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Man, I saw Riggs in his post game comments. Phew, he's lookin bad. And this was after a win!The season can't end quick enough for him I think. I think he's best suited as a bench coach, where he's not in the spotlight.

  4. 320R2S15 - Sep 15, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    I have a not so terrible confession to make….I watched every second of last night's game, and I really, really liked it.

  5. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Last night is why I would take 5 Livos over one Strasburg…desire and results that is all Livo is about, he is by far the greatest pitcher to ever wear an Expos/Nats uniform!

  6. dale - Sep 15, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Last night's game was such a joy to watch. The fact that it has been so rare an event only makes it more treasured. I have to admit to not being among the supporters for Livo's signing last spring. Boy, was I wrong about that.I hope Espinoza plays every game til the end of the season. Watching him play is infectious.

  7. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    It is looking more and more like Big Donkey will be leaving via free agency. Baseball wise, it is probably a good move. But he is a lovable big galoot, running around the bases blowing bubbles.

  8. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    I would never in a million years take five Livos over one Strasburg unless there were literally no other pitchers available four out of five days. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate what Livo has done for the team… but people need to be a little less "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" about these guys. Strasburg had a 2.17 xFIP for the season, best of any starting pitcher since Pedro Martinez; Livo's is more like 4.73. xFIP is heavily correlated with next-season ERA, and that is probably what we should expect from him next season.

  9. Richard - Sep 15, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Livo, a pretty amazing guy. I love the way he goes against conventional thinking. … On another subject, very non-scientifically, I feel that frequent line-up changes are counter productive. For example, when Desmond was hot a short while ago he was taken out of the line up ostensibly to rest a hamstring but maybe to give ABs to others. When reinserted, he went cold. I'd like to see fewer line up shuffles and double switches.

  10. natsfan1a - Sep 15, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Leave it to Livo to bring me out of blog seclusion, not that I ever doubted the big guy. Maybe his bat downsizing decision explains his giving one to that Braves fan last night? Nah. :-)And, sec. 109, I'm very jealous. Have a gelato for me, will ya?

  11. Josh - Sep 15, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    It's not that frequent lineup changes are counterproductive, it is that players get hot or cold independent of their position in the lineup. I do agree that we shouldn't be constantly switching up the lineup as that is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic at this point, and just give the players some stability down the stretch.

  12. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Livo 49 career CG's..enough said..most of our pitchers INCLUDING SAINT STEPHEN cannot get out of the 5th…bring on 4 more Livo's and we could get to the playoffs!

  13. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Stephen "couldn't get out of the fifth" because if he was "struggling" (i.e. gave up more than two runs) he was invariably taken out at that time, even if he was only at 80 pitches. Give him Livo's "pitch counts" and he would've had at least two CGs already (opening day and the game against the White Sox) in twelve starts–possibly more. Hell, at the rate he was going against the Phillies that could have been a CG too, if it hadn't been for his injury. There was a grand total of one game where Strasburg genuinely should have been out after five innings, and it was the game against the Marlins where he couldn't locate. Don't confused the Nats' caution with Stephen with an inability to go deep in games, and seriously do not suggest to the Nats FO that they pick up for more pitchers with career ERAs above 4.50.

  14. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    @ Anon 1105 – Let's take a look at the rotation this year and all the guys who were suppose to turn this team around:Atilano – FAILMartin – FAILLannan – FAILStrasburg – FAIL (horrible mechanics led to injury and does not have the physical conditioning to compete during the summer heat)Stammen – FAILOlsen- FAILWang – FAILMock – FAILChico – not give a chanceMaya – jury is still outDetweiler – maybe a glimmer of hopeZimmerman – maybe a glimmer of hopeMarquis – successful return from injuryLivo – Amazing

  15. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Oh, and not that it matters, but Stephen averaged exactly 5.2 IP a start and 15.8 pitches/inning, while Livo has averaged just over 6.1 IP per start and 15.4 pitches/inning. They are the top two starters on the Nats in IP/start. The difference is pitch count–Livo averaged 99.9 IP/start, and Strasburg only 89.9 IP/start. There is one, simple reason that a better performer (same efficiency but better results while in the game, in terms of runs scored, K/BB, etc.) gets less pitches per start, and that is that the FO was deliberately keeping his outings short.So if you're going to hate on our starters for not going deep in games, that's totally fine, but I don't think Strasburg is the one you want.Also: WTF is this about Strasburg having horrible mechanics and not having the conditioning to compete during the summer heat? When did Nats Insider acquire so many pitching mechanics and conditioning experts? You really don't see a "glimmer of hope" in him but see one in both Zimmermann, who had EXACTLY the same thing happen to him as Strasburg, and Detwiler, who if I may remind you is actually considered to have horrible mechanics and has been on the DL many, many times already? Your logic bewilders me.

  16. Harper_ROY_2012 - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    @ Both of the most recent Anon's – Looking at the pitching staff statistically by BAA here are the effective starters:Strasburg .221Maya .238JZimm .246Detweiler .261Hernandez .267Atilano .282Chico .286Mock .286Martin .287Olsen .287Stammen .299Marquis .301Lannan .302

  17. JaneB - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    What a great post, what a great game, what a great Livo. And what a great city Section 109 is visiting. I join natsfan1a in the jealous department.It's so funny — and not as in ha-ha — that guys who produce, like Livo and Adam — don't get the sort of respect that some others get, even though they deliver the same or better results. Is it because they aren't overtly intense and driven? I think these guys are examples of people who love and respect the game and do their best, every day, to live up to their talents and the Game. They see the bigger picture and how they fit, and they work hard every day. Adam Dunn blowing bubbles as he circles the bases is a source of his power, and a source of delight for many fans (and good shout out on that, Anon at 8:19.). Livo's smile, the way he sets, the way he stands in the batters box, the way Adam chats up everybody who comes near his bag, these things speak to who they are. And why I (and others) love them. Go Nats!

  18. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    Looking at batting average against doesn't tell the whole story by any stretch, since it doesn't include walks. That's why we use WHIP (though that is not a great measure either IMO, but that's neither here nor there). By that measure (taking out Chico, Mock and Batista, who had only one start each):Strasburg 1.07(big gap)Hernandez 1.32Maya 1.36Martin 1.40JZimm 1.41Stammen 1.46Atilano 1.49Olsen 1.53Lannan 1.59Marquis 1.66(big gap)Detwiler 1.92

  19. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    I still think Rizzo should have brought his brother Orlando (El Duque) up. The bullpen could use a "mentor" as Sutton and Knight put it as well. If you can waste a 40-man on a Mench, a Harris, a Nieves, a Batista? You could surely use Livo's brother who looked a lot better than Batista that's for sure. With Pudge you would have had everything you need to cat herd young pitchers.

  20. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Forza Perugia! Merda per Venezia … ;) okay well Forza Nats!

  21. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Regarding the Strasburg / Livo comparison, I believe that most of us are grateful that the Nationals have either of themMark has done a great job here in providing testimony to Livo's ability and character. Let that stand on its own.Contra some of the others, I think that the Nats have a pretty rare specimen in Strasburg: my first reaction to seeing him pitch live was "Wow .. that guy is like Secretariat!". He's got the athletic ability and the competitiveness to match it. We don't know how he's going to come back from injury and we don't know yet how durable he is, but we have had a glimpse of the real deal. Everything that we've heard from old-timers to the sure Hall-of-Famer still playing on the team (Pudge) confirms what our eyes have seen. Let's not let hyperbole get the best of us, and let's not make the mistake that Dibble made (or imitate those ungrateful Philly phans) in the process of evaluating the pitchers best able to win for this team in the future.Mark in Arlington

  22. Ed Stroud - Sep 15, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    Is it me or is Carpenter and Knight getting out of control with the positive spin. Its almost as bad as Theisman doing a Skins game. Its enough to make me vomit

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FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

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NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
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