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LaRoche, bullpen power Nats to win

Apr 8, 2011, 4:26 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Adam LaRoche is congratulated by Ryan Zimmerman following his 11th-inning homer.

MIAMI — Adam LaRoche has experienced slow starts in his career. In his first five big-league seasons, he never finished April with a batting average higher than .214. In 2007 with the Pirates, he was hitting .133 on May 1.

Somehow, the veteran first baseman has always found a way to overcome those early struggles and put up good numbers by season’s end. So when he looked up at the scoreboard in the top of the 11th tonight and saw a .130 average next to his name, he wasn’t the least bit concerned.

“In the past I’ve gotten off slow, especially early on in my career, and pressed a little and let it snowball,” he said. “The last couple years, I’ve gotten past that.”

LaRoche’s average may still sit at a paltry .167 six games into his Nationals career. But he knows he’s already done plenty to contribute to a victory for his new team, his two-run blast off Edward Mujica having given the Nationals a much-needed, 5-3 win over the Marlins.
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  1. Stranded_in_Philly - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    Mark– just a question of curiosity here. I've noticed recently that the "read more" links on your pages have sent me over to the CSN home page. IIs there a contractual obligation that requires you to post a majority of your full articles over on the CSN home page? If so, could you shed some light on the details of that?

  2. Nattydread - Apr 8, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Great to take one when Josh Johnson was pitching. Now its time to pull things together and sweep the Mets.

  3. Big Cat - Apr 8, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Thats right Natty. We're gonna go up to New York and kick a little Met butt. Got Zimmerman on the mound. I think we are gonna get on a roll.

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Henry Rodriguez threw 2 perfect innings for Harrisburg last night in their win. 20 pitches, 15 strikes with 3 K's to 6 hitters.Start sweating Gaudin…

  5. Big Cat - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    NatsJack…..Glad to hear that about Rodriguez. If we get him, Kimball and Balester up here, then everytime that bullpen gate opens…..its 95mph comin out. Storen was absolutely nasty last night!

  6. Nats fan in NJ - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Stranded in Philly – I'll answer on Mark's behalf as he is likely traveling this morning. Long story short, Mark was hired full time by CSN shortly before the start of spring training. As part of the transaction, CSN and Mark have an agreement that Mark will continue to post here but will have regular articles on CSN which he'll link to from here. Make sense?Mark – Must admit, I went to sleep at 3-3 last night because I couldn't stand watching another late inning loss to Florida. Maybe I've found the Nats secret weapon against the Marlins? I turn off & stop watching, the Nats win. Hhhmmm…

  7. Anonymous8 - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Mark Zuckerman wrote…This was far from a picture-perfect performance. It included a shaky-yet-effective start from John Lannan, errors by Wilson Ramos and Laynce Nix and a major baserunning blunder by Danny Espinosa (who was gunned down trying to steal third base on his own with one out in the 10th).Error by Wilson Ramos? How's about the real story behind that. Clearly the runner was out. Another horrible call by the umps.The Ankiel miss-catch could have been an error.The baserunning blunder by Danny Espinosa? Yes, because it didn't work and the trail runner stayed cemented on 1st. Oh yah, that was Matt Stairs and that was the big blunder as you have to get him on second which is why he should have been replaced by a pinch runner. I like that Riggleman was aggressive. 1 out, get Espinosa to 3rd and then he can score on an out. It didn't work this time but to leave that runner on 1st was bad. If Desmond hit a single after that, it would have been even more costly.In the end, a very nice win!

  8. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Anon8: Espinosa tried to steal third on his own, thinking he had read the catcher's signs and the pitch was going to be a breaking ball. Riggleman didn't call for it, which is why Stairs (or any trailing runner) didn't run behind him. Riggleman said Espinosa would learn from his gaffe.Stranded_in_Philly: I was hired full-time by CSN in January, and as part of the deal, they purchased Nats Insider. The more important stories of the day (pregame news, postgame analysis) typically runs on the CSN site, since that reaches a larger audience. I post the first few paragraphs of those articles here, then link to the full piece on CSN. Other daily items (like my morning follow-ups, series previews and game threads) run in full here on this site.

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I can never complain about anything after a win over the hated Fish, especially one that had Horse Johnson on the mound for them. I'd take Johnson over Halliday if given the choice.And is anybody more over rated than Hanley Ramirez?

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    To me, the most impressive thing about last nights game was Lannans' ability to dominate Logan Morrison and left handers, in general.He really showed me something.

  11. natsfan1a - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    I watched the whole thing, including much of the post-game show, NatsJack, so was it you going to bed or me staying up past my bedtime that clinched it? ;-)On another (admittedly minor) note, I like that Zimmerman still has someone with whom to do a handshake (as opposed to a high five) at the plate. I seem to recall someone else doing so with him in an earlier game – Ankiel, maybe? In days of old it was Dunn and Willingham, if memory serves. I kinda like it, and hope that there are many opportunities to do so this season.

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Big Cat, maybe they could put a big "US 95" sign on the bullpen?

  13. Big Cat - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Ramerez isn't the same player. To me he looks out of shape. He looks puffy, almost doughy. Probably around 20 to 30 lbs overweight. He should of had 2 errors in one inning last night, but the hometown scorer is a joke. How about Ankiels drop in center, they called that a hit. Speaking of Ankiel…..he isn't looking good at the plate. Gotta get him and Morse going. Just goes to show you spring training doesn't mean a whole lot in the big picture

  14. Big Cat - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Sec 3……yes, that would be good. Hang that big blue highway 95 sign on the bullpen gate. Hmmmmm……thats an idea

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    I watched the whole game from my favorite watering hole and got half the tab paid because the bartender is a big "Fish" fan and he bet me we couldn't score on Johnson.

  16. Ernie - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Nothing like a win to suppress the negativity for a few hours. Last night it had gotten to the point that even my wife, who just started watching baseball a couple years ago and usually thinks everyone is too hard on the players and managers, was yelling at the TV that Riggleman needs to be fired. I think it was the top of the 7th, with the sacrifice by Ankiel, followed by two weak outs. I never would have thought that our best chance of a win would come on nights that Lannan was on the mound, but he seems to be the magic charm so far this year…

  17. Les in NC - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    IIRC Sec3 and Big Cat, Burnett's pitches hover just over 90, not the daunting 95+ that the other guys can throw. At any rate, I can't wait to see Rodriguez come up and be as effective as he proved to be last night. If he can, that will give us fans, and Riggs, even more confidence in the pen.

  18. natsfan1a - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Oops. Sorry, NatsJack. In my pre-caffeine, bleary-eyed state I conflated you with Nats Fan in NJ, who had posted about going to bed before the game ended.

  19. JaneB - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Ernie, I have sometimes been overtaken by the same vibe that swept your wife off her positive feet! I laughed out loud when I saw it! NatsJack, here's to more bets won by you and the Nats against the Fish-loving bartender. I am looking forward to a nice win against my second favorite team, the Mets.

  20. Mark'd - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    If Espinosa attempted to steal 3rd on his own, he should be put before the Kangaroo Court. Still like aggressive plays just need the brain to engage or it is Nyjer ball all over again!

  21. Mark'd - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    2 comments on Anon8 and NatsJack. Yes, have to pinch run with a pitcher for Stairs. NJack, good point on Lannan. Best he has looked in a while vs Lefties

  22. Richard - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I sorry, I still don't get Ankiel. He's better than Morgan? or Bernadina? or even Willie Harris? Really? Toal B.S. Another inexplicable Rizzoan move — like dumping Peralta. I likes da guy. He's a vet. Good in da clubhouse. Or a real pro, as Riggs alway always always says. If this guy hits .250 it'll be good. We need Debbie Taylor to ask Rizzo those touchy feely questions of hers — "how does it make you feel, Mr. Rizzo, about Rick hitting a bingo number, O83?"

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Aside from the play last night, Ankiel is one of the better defensive CF's in the game, and the plan is to get him to be serviceable at the plate. Let's give him till mid May and if he still can't hit his weight, we can bring back Bernadina.And I hit the mute button the instant Debbie Taylor starts to move her lips.

  24. NR Rizzo - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    @ Richard"It feels like we haven't even played seven games yet."

  25. Ron in Reston - Apr 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    I, too, wondered why there wasn't a pitcher running for Stairs, especially after I caught a glimpse of his caboose going back to first after the Espinosa goof. Holy moly, that thing must have its own zip code…..but at the same time, do we really want to risk a starting pitcher getting hurt pinch running (as Mark'd suggested) when our starting pitching has been our strength so far? Sure, when it's the 15th inning or so and you have absolutely no other choice, that's fine. But pitchers do very little baserunning, ever. And with a perfectly fine Joey Cora on the bench at that point, that's who should have been running for Stairs.And no, I don't make it a point of noticing players' posteriors, but I had to change the aspect on my TV to fit him in the picture fer Pete's sake ;)

  26. Will - Apr 8, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Did a Nats fan* just call Hanley Ramirez the most overrated player in baseball? Hanley be a 40-40 player and win a batting title if he played 162 games against Washington every year. Uh, enjoy the bad series he had against the Nats but let's keep the hyperbole to a minimum. *I'm one too.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 77 56 --
ATLANTA 72 65 6.0
MIAMI 68 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 73 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 62 74 15.5
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
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Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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