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With Zim out, where will runs come from?

May 1, 2011, 1:45 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Ian Desmond reached second on an error and scored the Nats’ only run today.

The gut punch came 75 minutes before first pitch at Nationals Park, when the home clubhouse doors closed for a brief meeting in which the entire team was informed Ryan Zimmerman will have surgery Tuesday to repair a torn abdominal muscle.

The knockout blow came four hours later when the Nationals trudged off the field following a 2-1 loss to the Giants that was as inexplicable as any they had experienced in a long time. Despite putting 14 men on base — 12 via walk or hit batter — their moribund lineup could not push more than one run across the plate.

Which led to a stark realization back in that clubhouse at the end of a demoralizing Saturday afternoon: Somehow, this team that seems to get a quality pitching performance every time it takes the field has to figure out some way to increase its offensive production, with the “Face of the Franchise” sidelined for at least another six weeks.

“It’s hard to lose your best player, regardless,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “It’s great having him around now, but it’s killing him not to be out there. And it hurts. But there’s nothing we can do about it. The best thing we can do is wish him the best and hope he recovers sooner than expected and go on and try to win some games.”
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  1. The Great Unwashed - May 1, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    This game was the very definition of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. VERY frustrating.

  2. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 1, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    Notice Rizzo said "about six weeks." Running that timetable through the Nats Time Machine whereby team executives' rosy scenarios are combined with reality. Translation:After the All-Star break.But he'll be "in the best shape of his career" for next spring training.

  3. Stranded_in_Philly - May 1, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    Bring up Bernadina. Play Morse at third.Wow. Problem solved. That was easy.Plus, Morse will get 3B eligible in my dynasty league.

  4. Drew8 - May 1, 2011 at 2:33 AM

    If you need offense, some kid in Hagerstown slugged his sixth homer tonight. (I know, just sayin…)Speaking of offensive, I'm usually not a Riggleman basher, but that loss WAS on him. You have Lannan walk a rook to load the bases so he can face Aubrey Huff — a situation in which a walk or a hit batsman will cost you the game.I sat on my couch going all Edvard Munch. My God man, what the @#$%^&* are you doing?

  5. Anonymous8 - May 1, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    Stranded In Philly just gave you the only way unless you get LaRoche and Werth hitting their weight.

  6. JaneB - May 1, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    Stranded for Skipper.

  7. Sunshine_Bobb_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 1, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    I'm with stranded too. Only problem is…Mickey Morse isn't exactly tearing the cover off the horsehide either…

  8. Doc - May 1, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    @ Stranded_In_Philly: I think that you're right about the moves to be made. I also think that most of the top managers in baseball, e.g. Bochy, LaRussa, Ozzie, Leland, Maddon,would do the same thing.It's about bats, and the potential for bats to do something for the offense. If it's nothing more than merely stabilizing the defense, then I guess Cora will do.We could do the deal about staying close to .500 until Zim comes back, if only the other bats could come alive.For me, this game was lost in the 1st two innings.

  9. SonnyG10 - May 1, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    I don't think Mike Morse or Roger Bernadina can hit consistently well enough to do us much good. I think the only way out is for the top half of our lineup to start hitting more consistently…at least up to their normal averages. This offense for the most part has been pathetic.

  10. Bobby Knight - May 1, 2011 at 3:42 AM

    Bring my nephew Ray Knight to become either the hitting coach or manager, The duo there are there now don't have a clue how to fix the hitting and U bet Ray does.

  11. The Great Unwashed - May 1, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    I've watched a lot of Nats games over the years. When they lose, I usually shrug it off because, well they're the Nats.But this loss is inexcusable. To only get 2 hits in the face of 12 free passes and three bases loaded situations is just pathetic.Some posters have been quick to blame Eckstein, but this one's on the players. Mike Morse swings at the first pitch after the two previous batters had been walked and ends the inning. He can't take two pitches to see whether Sanchez was still wild? Inexcusable. That's not Eckstein's fault.I DVR the games, and lately I've been zipping through Werth's and LaRoche's at bats because they're automatic outs. Even though Ankiel got the only two hits of the game, he's an automatic out too — as is Morse. Espinosa's batting average has taken a nose dive. They might as well be pitchers.But you know what? Tomorrow I will watch them again.

  12. The Great Unwashed - May 1, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    Oh yeah, and one other thing. If I hear how LaRoche is notorious for being a slow starter and he'll heat up soon one more time…

  13. Anonymous - May 1, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    Hey Great Unwashed. Tomorrow, try to get a life and do something else with your time rather than wasting your life watching the hopeless, hapless, helpless Gnats!

  14. Manassas Nats Fan - May 1, 2011 at 4:06 AM

    No matter what happens today, I assume that they will win the next game.When everyone is hitting bad, I do believe there is a problem in the approach, so I do look at the hitting coach to fix the problem, if he doesn't than adios.

  15. Anonymous - May 1, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    I think this is time to trade a reliever for a utility player who can contribute after Zim comes back ad waive Matt Stairs!!!

  16. Cwj - May 1, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    Call me "exceedingly optimistic", but I think it's kind of cool to have the best Nats team since 2005. 12-14 with zero offense! That isn't luck, that's good pitching.They'll likely win 75 games or so this season. About what everyone thought.Maybe I'm being foolish but I love this team. What a far cry from just 2 years ago, or even last year.Oh and @Great Unwashed- LaRoche is a slow starter and will heat up soon :-) (sorry, couldn't resist).

  17. dale - May 1, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Eckstein must have an appointment book filled for two weeks now. Perhaps he needs a rubber mallet wielding assistant to bang some sense into these fellers. Espinosa desperately needs to change his approach with two strikes on him. Channeling Babe Ruth is not working well for him. Forget the left-right-left mantra for hitting order–LaRoche needs to drop down in the order to a place that warrants his production. Ramos is a clean up hitter, his approach is amazingly more "professional" than his more experienced brethren. Nix in for Morse. Morse at first until Laroche takes a paternity leave to clear his head and heal his body. Demote Stairs, bring in Bernardina and play him for Werth for a few games. Riggleman needs to actually "manage" at times like this, but I fear he he has trapped himself into his own personal box. He sees the key to managing this club as micromanaging the starting pitching, when that is the one part that seems to be working. The intentional walk was an example of Riggleman being Riggleman. The manager should have enough faith in his starters when they have only made one mistake to that point in the game. The only "mea culpa" I hear from Riggleman concerns not the ridiculously weak RISP hitting but letting Lannan earn his win.

  18. Oldguy - May 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Riggleman is doing the best he can with what he has. The way he managed game 1 against SF was a gem (I was there). Do what you have to do to win, but respect your players, in that case Marquis, by letting him finish. The guys need to step up, period. Replacing Stairs won't help if Werth doesn't start hitting.

  19. SCNatsFan - May 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Simple question. Where will the runs come from? Well, kind of a rhetorical question becasue the runs they ain't a coming.Unfortunately prepare to see alot of 0s,1s and 2s in the Nats boxscores… with the 2s being hopeful.

  20. Big Cat - May 1, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Yes CWj….we are 12-14 with probably the worst RISP I have ever seen…..anywhere. Also, Akiel leadoff double in a 1-1 game. Werth, you have absolutely got to get that man to third. Hit the ball to the right side, bunt for christsakes. NOOOOO…….groundball to short. Terrible.I love the pitching. With good pitching you will always be in the game, but you gotta do the little things. With all things said and done, we could be a whole lot worse. Good game yesterday Lannan

  21. The Great Unwashed - May 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Cwj,I agree with you that this is probably a 75 win team. I don't expect them to win any more than that this year. But that's only six games under .500. And over a 162 game season, the margin of error to reach that mark is pretty slim. In other words, they have to win games like this to show that they are an improving ball club because they still have to face the Phillies and Braves many more times this year. So THIS is what it's like to be a Pirates fan. Arrrrrrgh!!!By the way, Werth is really close to breaking out. Sigh…

  22. Anonymous8 - May 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Big Cat, that groundball to short by Werth was a weak one too. Real terrible.

  23. Anonymous - May 1, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Here's a question. How many extra wins is a good manager worth in one season. After watching us lose so many close games, you start to wonder, just how many games is this guy costing us. What would our record be with, oh, Larussa…..or Manuel or one of the other established "professional" managers. I think a manager could be worth 10-15 extra wins in a long season.

  24. JayB - May 1, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Team will be fine without Zimm but Rizzo does need to explain why he was willing to waste half the season knowing that he was very likely going to need surgery and that it was a tear not a strain. IF he did not know this THEN the medical staff must be held accountable for a poor diagnosis. Clearly a second opinion found it in a day.On Riggs…..what a waste….this team could really be fun to watch and be a winning franchise… will be once we move past the cheapest manager in baseball and the one with the worst lifetime record. He is just so concerned with all the touchy feely stuff that does not matter….WINS is all that matter and keep Lannan in so he could get a win instead of getting a TEAM win is enough to fire him on the spot.

  25. Will - May 1, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Just scratch 5 wins off the Nats expected win total because of Zimm's absence.

  26. Big Cat - May 1, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    I always get the feeling that Riggs is trying to be their friend rather than their manager. He seems scared to call anyone out, scared someone might get mad at him.

  27. JamesFan - May 1, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    This is a great opportunity for some players to step up and become real heros in Washington. It will be interesting to see whether the team has the character to step up.

  28. Doc - May 1, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Prince Oppo Boppo to the run production rescue. He says he'll be ready by June! Some scouts thought he was ready for The Bigs when he was sent down in ST.

  29. natsfan1a - May 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Good morning, Nats batters. When you exit the tunnel today, take your first left and head down the dugout. You will see something called a "bat rack" on the wall. Take a piece of lumber out of it, head for the plate, and go to town (but don't swing unless it's a good hitting situation). See you at the park in a bit! :-)

  30. Big Cat - May 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Harper another bomb last night. 6 now. Hmmmmmm…..I see he played CF last night. I think he's ready now too. Hey……Yount, Griffey, Conigliaro and I'm sure there are a lot more that played in the bigs as teens. oh well, I know we gotta go thru procedures. We don't wanna rush the kid…..yadda yadda yadda

  31. Sam - May 1, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    In terms of wRC+, the Nationals are ahead of the Pirates and Padres in the NL. However, a .258 BABIP puts us ahead of only the Braves in the NL, who are, by the way, tied with us for offensive futility (81 wRC+). The hits will start dropping soon.I think it would be more interesting to focus on the extreme positive that has been the pitching rotation. Obviously, it's still early, meaning there is plenty of time for it to explode, but it has been pretty good thus far.

  32. masnstinks - May 1, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Eye exams and contact lenses for everyone!!! Oh – and — Matt Stairs — please retire — you're done. Although it was embarrassing yesterday to get so many free bases and score only 1 run — The San Fransisco Giants – reigning world series champs, scored 2 on John Lannan+ bullpen. Not exactly on fire. And if the Phils didn't have their kingdom of pitching royalty, they would be losing because their offensive production has been inconsistent also.

  33. Jim Webster - May 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM

    Is Zim the new Nick Johnson? Shudder to think it could be so.





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