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Morse, LaRoche spring to life vs. Pirates

Apr 24, 2011, 10:47 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche each homered during today’s 6-3 win.

PITTSBURGH — They may insist they pay no attention to such things, but members of the Nationals’ lineup can’t help but notice how abysmal their offensive numbers are right now.

Only two of Jim Riggleman’s starting nine Sunday against the Pirates boasted batting averages better than .225: Leadoff man Danny Espinosa and pitcher Jason Marquis, who was hitting a robust .286. Three starters were sitting below the Mendoza line. Four sported on-base percentages below .300.

“You look at the averages right now, and it’s not real good,” cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche said.

Perhaps the Nationals began to dig themselves out of their season-long funk Sunday afternoon in pounding out 15 hits en route to a 6-3 victory. Certainly, LaRoche (2-for-5, homer) and Michael Morse (3-for-4, three-run homer) had to feel good about their performances.

This lineup may not be loaded with thumpers who can be counted on to produce every single night. But there’s certainly more offensive talent wearing curly W jerseys right now than has been put on display.

“It’s nice to put a few hits together today,” LaRoche said. “That’s been few and far between. Our pitchers have been keeping us in there, but we haven’t been able to get the big hit. So to have Mike come up with the big three-run home run and drive some runs in when we needed them, and to keep adding on to it, was a good sign.”
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  1. Anonymous8 - Apr 24, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    I thought Morse's last at-bat where he singled up the middle was his best swing. Full extension and hit hard!Both Acta and Riggleman would stick with struggling players they liked and rarely do you get rewarded and mostly they hurt your team. Finally, Riggleman got the payoff thanks to Michael Morse. Winner winner chicken dinner!

  2. Mark'd - Apr 24, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    "Riggleman would stick with struggling players" Guys are certainly stepping up on different games and today was Morse's day. Now when your pitcher gets 2 solid hits and your designated DH strikes out again, maybe it is time to bring back Bernadina because at least he can run and play defense.

  3. carolync - Apr 24, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Great post, Mark! You're the best.I looked at the video of the play at the plate and I couldn't tell if the runner was safe or out. I think McCutcheon was blocking the view of both the camera and the umpire. I give credit for the play to Pudge for his wonderful lunging tag.Nice win. Go Nats!

  4. dj in Fl. - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    @carolyncI had the mlb extra innings which broadcast with the Pirates tv crew again today. They showed about 4 angles before deciding the last showed McCutcheon's right leg, to the right of the plate and Pudge clearly tagged him before his bent left leg arrived at the plate.They were not thrilled to say the least.

  5. Anonymous8 - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    It may be time to use Marquis as a LH pinch hitter instead of Stairs when Riggleman just needs some contact. Very impressed with Jason's ABs today and when he got on base his base running was impressive too.

  6. Doc - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    @ dj in FL: Thanks for clarifying! I looked at the Nats' Video Corner 6 times, and it just wasn't clear to me whether McCuthcheon was safe or out.Good to have a veteran catcher doing the deal.WOW what a throw from Werth!!!!!!!!!!Goooooooooooooooo Nats! Make the Pirates to walk the gangplank tomorrow.

  7. MicheleS - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Mark, is there a place we could see the replay of the end of the game? I wanted to see if it was a close play, but none of the national shows (MLB Tonight or BBTN-ESPN had it. I think a lack of National coverage sucks. I thought for sure it would have been a web gem, but sadly, I had to watch those pathetic Met's game highlights instead of seeing what happenend with the Nats!

  8. Nats Outsider - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Can anyone post a link to see Werth's throw to the plate?

  9. Andrew - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    dj in Fl. said… thanks for the update. I wouldn't have cared if the ump got it wrong as the Nats come up on the wrong end of the calls 90% of the time. The way McCutcheon got to 3rd on that string of errors was bizarre. Another 3 errors today and IDesmond wasn't in the game today.

  10. Andrew - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:39 AM, how is Adam Jones throw to home on a slower Jeter a WebGem?

  11. Nats Outsider - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    Thanks, Andrew. I just watched it half a dozen times. I still couldn't tell for sure, but I'll take the outcome. The downside is that it might make the Pirates super-energized for tomorrow's game.

  12. MicheleS - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    Andrew, I agree on the Adam Jones web gem… What's up with the lack of coverage? I watch all of BBTN and NOTHING on the Nats! UGH Frustrating!!

  13. Andrew - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    NatsOutsider – You are welcome. If McCutcheon is safe, the score goes to 6-4 with 2 outs. He didn't represent the tying run or winning run. Not smart to send him and that is on the 3rd base coach.It was the 1st game in Nats history that ended with an out at home.

  14. sunderland - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    There's a ton of unwritten rules in baseball. Here's another one. If you make a boneheaded play, and it's close, the close call is going against the bonehead.It falls under the "you get what you deserve" clause.

  15. Big Cat - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    Good win today Nats. Bucs starter is pretty much a AAA pitcher and we finally put some hits together. I hope Morse can get hot. And come on Zim…..we need ya baby. Hairston can't play anymore. Any win is a good one……..move on

  16. Rob Dibble's Ghost - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:22 AM highlight package has a pretty good replay of the play at the plate that ended the game. It's at the very end, and they show it in slow-mo.

  17. CBinDC - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    The lack of coverage extends to the MLB network who do cover the team but mostly in the quick and MASN in the space between games you would not know they were on the network but it is most obvious on ESPN. They will some days not give the Nationals score at all or will call the score like this "the Pirates lost today 6-3". You get ESPN to say Nationals at all it has to be a story that centers around Strasburg and you can tell they hate even mentioning that he plays for the Nats. ESPN has it in for the Nationals and a really do not know why.

  18. Anonymous8 - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    CBinDC, interesting observations about ESPN. Do they hold a grudge after last year when they made the Nats the Sunday Night Game and instead of getting Strasburg pitching the Nats pushed Strasburg to the next game?

  19. SonnyG10 - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    Thanks for the link, Rob Dibble's Ghost. It did look like McCutcheon was out to me.Go Nats!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. masnstinks - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    Why was LaRoche booed in Pittsburgh? There certainly are plenty of ex-bucs around and I thought he was well-liked and respected. I also thought he didn't leave for money,but was traded. What's up? Not that he cares or anything – I just thought it was kind of dumb. But then – it is pittsburgh…….I hope it keeps him fired up.

  21. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:02 AM

    I was encouraged by the Stairs signing, but he's reminding me of Wil Cordero — 0 for 20 now? That's just silly. I agree Bernadina's been a big disappointment, but at least he can hit a little. Also, why on earth are they still keeping LaRoche in the lineup if he's this hurt? Let's give Marrero a few weeks in the show and see if rest helps LaRoche. AND, finally, do we have NOBODY who can play 3b and hit at replacement level? Goodness gracious that's a bad situation.

  22. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:37 AM

    Thank you for mentioning "no-bat" Ankiel … not to mention Hairston, Cora and Stairs … throw in Werth and Mike Rizzo doesn't look like such a great scout. Laynce Nix saves this crew.No one should expect the offense to live off of just Werth, LaRoche, and Morse along with a rookie Danny Espinosa every other night, when the other rookie that is hitting, Wilson Ramos, is sitting? The bench is a sub-Mendoza lineup except for Nix.It still doesn't bode well … and these are after all … the Pirates?

  23. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    >>>Yep, how is Adam Jones throw to home on a slower Jeter a WebGem?<<<Because it's ESPN. There was NO mention of the Nationals whatsover on Baseball Tonight, tonight. It was as if the game didn't happen.

  24. TimDz - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    I think the lack of coverage of the game on ESPN has less to do with the Nats and more with the match up. If baltimore's game was against Cleveland and that was Grady Sizemore that was thrown out, it doesn't make the highlights, in my opinion…

  25. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    sunderland said… There's a ton of unwritten rules in baseball. Here's another one. If you make a boneheaded play, and it's close, the close call is going against the bonehead. It falls under the "you get what you deserve" clause.Agreed. the ump was "thinking who does this guy think he is, coming home on a potential close play, giving me the opportunity to decide on a close play that should have never happened, and now I can get a shower and go to dinner…" UNTERP

  26. Rickitystairs - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Stairs is now 0 for 11 with 5 k's. How old is Manny Mota? Do you think he has a couple quality ab's left? Maybe Riz can send someone to check on him

  27. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    All the speak about Stairs: When you least expect, Stairs will come through.All the speak about Ian: The posts against him might be right. I happened to think losing him would be the worst thing that could happen, which means I believe all the hating is misplaced. The most baseball I've ever played is sandlot. All you posters with MLB experience let him toss the first stone…UNTERP

  28. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    Mota was born in 1938 which makes him 73 years old. I say we get him in here for a look see. Gotta be better than Stairs. Also he would be that "veteran presence" that Rizzo likes so much

  29. Rickitystairs - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Stairs hit .194 in 09 with the Phils and .230 last year with the Padres. He is 43 years old. Come on man, the guy is done. He has had a long career, a successful one at that. But it is time to call in the dogs, the hunt is over

  30. DFL - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    The Nats are pretty much getting the production of a utilityman in the left-field position. Who would have guessed.

  31. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Rickitystairs said… Stairs hit .194 in 09 with the Phils and .230 last year with the Padres. He is 43 years old. Come on man, the guy is done. He has had a long career, a successful one at that. But it is time to call in the dogs, the hunt is overYou are right. More than anything, even if he gets a few hits, it's a wasted roster spot. I really don't get Rizzo or Riggleman ever having him on the team…UNTERP

  32. JD - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    You guys are all missing the point. The low batting average; the 0 for are irrelevant if he turns 4 or 5 games around during the season and his history suggest that he will.

  33. Joe Seamhead - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Mark Z said: 3:49 p.m. — OK, who had the seventh inning in today's "When will Michael Morse be double-switched out" pool? Tyler Clippard on to pitch in relief of Marquis. Laynce Nix in to play left field in place of Morse.OK, Nix got an RBI hit, but the Riggleman continual switching with Morse is kind of weird. What a great way to pat the guy on the back after going 3-4.Nothing can slow up a guy getting hot at the plate like yanking him just as he starts heating up.(I posted this on the Game 20 blog also.)

  34. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    JD said… You guys are all missing the point. The low batting average; the 0 for are irrelevant if he turns 4 or 5 games around during the season and his history suggest that he will.You are right too. You are all right. There is no wrong answer here, except someone else with good defensive skills and just as good a bat if not a better bat, could do the same thing…UNTERP

  35. Anonymous8 - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    unterp, with Rizzo, he seems to go to extremes. He identified what he identified as lack of leadership. So it seems he has equated leadership with years on MLB rosters and filled the bench with guys like Stairs, Cora, and Hairston.After you see how your 25 man roster is peforming or not performing, the GM may have to make changes. Not sure how much longer you continue with Stairs. The issue is who you replace him with as Bernadina and Corey Brown would have to come in as bench role players and you have to consider if that is the best move.

  36. sjm308 - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    That 25th spot on the roster is rarely a game changer and yet with Stairs, you are looking at someone who could cause a pitching change just by him moving to the on-deck circle. I realize he is 0 for 2011 but like JD says, if he wins even 2 or 3 games this year, what other 25th man can do that? We have all the positions covered, we are playing .500 ball and pitching extremely well. We are not hitting yet and fielding even worse. It amazes me how negative people can be. I won't even read these comments if we go on a losing streak.Did someone actually post that Rizzo is not a good scout?? Give me a break, its what he is known for!! Just like I should not get excited 20 games in to the season, you guys that are criticizing need to lighten up as well. Werth – great signingLaRoche – solid signingAnkiel – would you rather have Morgan??Only place I would make changes and hopefully Bixler will force their hand is to go younger with the middle infield depth. I don't need both Cora and Hairston on the bench.One last thing about Rizzo, how do our last two years of drafting look?? Kimball is lights out, and will be up soon. Storen is already a fixture and we have lots more help coming soon. Go Nats!!

  37. natsfan1a - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Was at yesterday's game, and I can see why you like that ballpark, Mark. It's a gem!Was also wondering about the boos for LaRoche. There were a few of us Nats fans in the upper deck who made a point of clapping whenever he came up to bat, and I called out an "atta boy" after one of his hits.btw, I called the first Marquis hit and the Morse dinger. How many multi-hit games does Marquis have? I was keeping score with a "Marshmallow Peeps" themed pen in honor of the occasion, and I started using it to hex Bucs players late in the game. So, nice that Marquis got the win and all, but I think I could get maybe a *little* bit of credit. Just kidding.Wish we could attend tonight's makeup game, but work duties call. Talk at y'all later.

  38. SCNatsFan - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    This pitching change stuff with regards to Stairs is wrong. The guy hasn't hit for 2 years; the legend of Matt Stairs is much greater then the actual Matt Stairs at the moment. I like the guy – and I like Cora – and the thought is these guys are like coaches. I'm OK with that – release them and sign them as coaches.

  39. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    sjm308 said…Okay, I know you are a good defense attorney. You argued your case well. I will find on the behalf of Stairs. Rizzo has done a good job, as well as we could hope. I don't expect miracles from this team. Winning 79 games was my hope and my expectation. Right now only injuries and tired arms can derail that prediction. Additionally, I learn a lot from most of you posters. Just as I mentioned above, none of you are really wrong about most things about the Nationals and baseball in general. Also, I am glad that we don't agree on many things. You can't learn anything if everyone is of like minds…UNTERP

  40. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    I totally agree.

  41. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:28 PM


  42. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    The Pirates are terrible.

  43. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Anonymous said… The Pirates are terrible.LOL.

  44. Doc - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Earth to Riggs, Mickey Morse at 3B and Nix in LF–until our rightful heir to 3B can return.With respect to RZim, let's hope that creatin isn't an issue with his DL status, as has been suggested by reports on other similarly injured players.

  45. erocks33 - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Actually Doc, the way he's been hitting the past week plus, I'd say leave Hairston at 3rd, keep Morse in LF and have Nix play CF. Since the start of the Brewers series, the Nats are 5-3, and I was shocked at some of the slash lines:Morse: 24AB – .417/.400/.583/.983Nix: 12AB – .333/.333/.667/1.000Hairston: 18AB – .333/.400/.556/.956Pudge: 14AB – .286/.333/.571/.905Espinosa: 32AB – .281/.314/.500/.814LaRoche: 28AB – .250/.382/.500/.882Desmond: 24AB – .250/.333/.417/.750Ankiel: 30AB – .233/.343/.267/.610Ramos: 15AB – .200/.250/.267/.517Werth: 29AB – .172/.200/.276/.476Cora: 16AB – .063/.118/.063/.180Some of the bats are starting to slowly wake up (Morse, Hairston, Nix and even Pudge), while others keep hitting the snooze button (Werth, Ramos, Ankiel, Cora).

  46. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Well, they're not all going to hit at the sane time. Just need enough timely hitting a few a game. The snoozers will awaken and the awaken will snooze.

  47. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    Yep, if we can get the 25th spot on the roster straightened out, we will immediately be in contention for the playoffs. Just that one change is all that it would take. And bringing Brown up from Syracuse (where he is batting .211) is exactly the right thing to do.

  48. Doc - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    @ erocks33: Thanks for the updated stats. Looks like we can leave Cora out of the starting BO. Nix has done some CF, more recently with the Reds, so yeah he could/should at least spell Ankiel out there. Nix might be one of the more significnat signings from last winter.

  49. sjm308 - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    UNterp: agree that it is much more fun when people can disagree and do it in an adult manner which this blog does. I as well continually learn from most folks and I have us down for 78 wins which would be just great in my opinion.Would love to see us win this Series and return home to crush the Muts.I Kinda like the Morse to 3b and Nix to LF move suggested earlier. Would move Cora and Hairston back to the bench where they actually do provide nice depth at lots of positions.Go Nats

  50. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Here is what seems different. I feel a sense that winning is an expectation this year. I have not felt this since the first half of the (re-)inaugural season. In the past, if it was, for example, "Nats are down 0-2 in the third," I was changing channels. I believe that team members feel the expectation to win this year, and that this radiates to us fans/baseball experts. Especially true given that we are in combat without being nearly at our combat-ready best, personnel wise right now. Am I just 'drunk' over the Caps or do others sense this expectation with our beloved Nats?





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