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Contributing on the mound and at the plate

May 15, 2011, 11:17 PM EST

There aren’t many better feelings for a big-league pitcher than taking the mound in the second inning with a 6-run lead.

“Oh, it’s definitely nice,” Jason Marquis said. “You can attack the strike zone a little bit more comfortably. I didn’t feel my best today with my rhythm and my delivery. So it allowed me some room for error with my mistakes.”

Of course, Marquis had the leeway to make a few mistakes on the mound Sunday thanks in large part to what he did at the plate during that early rally. It was his two-out, two-run double off Marlins starter Javier Vazquez that brought runs No. 5 and 6 home and set the Nationals well on their way to an 8-4 victory.

It’s no surprise when Marquis helps his own cause with the bat. He’s a career .204 hitter, with 53 RBI in 548 at-bats over 12 big-league seasons.

The bigger surprise is that he didn’t contribute more offensively last season when he hit a paltry .136, his worst showing in eight years. You know how position players sometimes take their hitting slumps into the field with them? Maybe Marquis took his pitching woes to the
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  1. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Marquis is definitely the staff ace. J.Zimmermann will probably take over that role once he can start pitching deep into games.Go Marquis! Go Nats!

  2. Andrew - May 15, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    Another amazing all around performance by Jason Marquis and by the way, he was safe at 3rd for what would have been a triple. Kind of disappointing he legged that double into a possible triple though for another 3rd out at 3rd base.

  3. Grandstander - May 16, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    Speaking of good-hitting pitchers, what's Ankiel's status? By my math, he's eligible to come back on Wednesday, but haven't seen much about his recovery. With the way Bernadina and Nix are rolling, he looks to be in the 4th outfielder role (where he belongs) with Morse as a RH bat off the bench. As much as everyone wants his head, I think Stairs gets to stay while Mr. Bixler takes his rightful place back in Syracuse.

  4. Anonymous8 - May 16, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    I thought of Bixler as a speed guy who can bunt and play some defense and then he gets picked-off, but 2 guys are going to have to leave after Zim and Ankiel come back so it has to be Bixler and Stairs IMO. Of course Rizzo could stick his head in the sand and send Bernadina down again.Also speaking of Bernadina, his bunting is so much improved and I think he already has 3 bunt hits. I think Espinosa and Desmond really need to bunt for hits more often. Espinosa is struggling so badly right now that any type of hit will help restore some confidence and overall the Nats have to play some "small ball" to generate offense.

  5. masnstinks - May 16, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    Marquis can really hit! Mark, does he work on hitting or does it just come naturally? I also seem to remember that Livo has been a hitter in the past and has some hr's. JZimm is a pretty good bunter.How does our staff stack up this year with batting averages and bunts? It's a real asset to this team, especially when offense is an issue, that the pitchers can contribute.We don't need no stinkin' DH!

  6. Andrew - May 16, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    masnstinks, Marquis gets his hands up and likes those top of the strike zone pitches. Really impressive watching him hit, and he hustles on the bases.Like you said, Livo can hit, just haven't seen it this season.JZim is also a good hitter and another great athlete on this team. Add to your list Drew Storen who can also hit and is a switch hitter.

  7. masnstinks - May 16, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    Did not know that Storen could hit/switch-hit! Very smart kid, by the way. I don't think he has any ab's for us yet this year,does he? Marquis was a beast today!

  8. Anonymous8 - May 16, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    Not sure if this was posted anywhere, just read this: Former GM Jim Bowden joined the ESPN.com staff today

  9. Andrew - May 16, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    masnstinks, Drew hasn't batted this year but in his first AB last year got a hit at Nats Park and struck out in his 2nd AB.Also in trivia, Jordan Zimmermann is a natural lefty that throws and bats righthanded.

  10. Andrew - May 16, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    Mark, love the video and really like what Marquis had to say, "1 pitch or 1 hit from being 5, 6, 7 games over .500".

  11. natsfan1a - May 16, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    masn, on a recent broadcast, FP noted that he'd seen Marquis at the park early working on his hitting. Speaking of FP, hopes he's back in the booth soon…

  12. Drew8 - May 16, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    Speaking of pitching, Jim Callis of Baseball America and Keith Law of ESPN now project that the Nats will take Kentucky's 6-foot-9 ace Alex Meyer with the No. 6 pick. Seems that among Gray of Vandy, Bauer of UCLA, Bradley of Ga. Tech, Jungmann of Texas and Meyer they're bound to get a fine college pitcher at that spot.Also: I know that yesterday JD mentioned Robbie Ray's sterling second outing at Hagerstown. Collectively, Ray now has 11 inning pitched, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts and no earned runs. Dandy start. For a slender guy (6-2, 170) he must be bringin' it.Again, with Strasburg, JZimm, Pick 6, Cole, Ray, Detwiler, Solis, Gorzy and the Brads (Meyers and Peacock)the Nats are stirring up a dandy staff.As we think about possible future trades, note that the Nats are building some fine infield inventory in the minors. Rick Hague, Steve Lombardozzi and Blake Kelso all look promising.

  13. Anonymous8 - May 16, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    Drew8 – Funny you mention Blake Kelso. Have to find out if he is for real as he is a good contact hitter in Hagerstown carrying a healthy BA there. Let's hope the Nats promote Bryce Harper and a few others together to Potomac.On the Draft, it is deep and obviously with all the arms available, most of them won't pan out as Aces so let's hope the Nats get a blue chipper with that 6th pick and with the Dunn compensation pick. You have to wonder if the 2011 Draft will be as good as 2005 was for star players.

  14. Doc - May 16, 2011 at 3:29 AM

    @ Andrew:Interesting bit of trivia on JZim's ambidexterity. Can you give me a lead on where I can read more about JZim's status in this area?I grew up with the same thing, and decided to get good with most things using the right, but contiued to do a lot of things with my left, including hockey and golf. It's probably more common than we think.

  15. Andrew - May 16, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    Doc, in 2009 I handled JZim's memorabilia so just stuff we talked about and I took him golfing. I can't remember if he golfed righty or lefty and as you mentioned that about yourself I was looking for photographs from golfing to see if I had any and couldn't find it readily (thinking left). Just a really nice young man who I really pull for after all he went through with TJ. My youngest son is the same way and he is 8 and started throwing a baseball before we knew he was lefthanded so we got him a righty glove. He will be a natural switch hitter as he can do it both ways.Then you have Jason Marquis who throws right and bats left which is probably more rare.

  16. Richard - May 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Adam LaRoche's hitting is a concern all right but his fielding is a beautiful thing. Take yesterday, 8th inning, with Sanchez on first via BB and nobody out and the fish making good contact with Clippard's high gas, Adam snags a liner of Morrison's bat and tags Sanchez — DP and the inning essentially over. Then in the 9th, again with a runner on 1st via a BB, he snags a tricky two-hopper off McClough's bat and wheels graceful to make a great throw to Kimball covering and gets McClough by a step. Great stuff. Also, the excellent prospects re pitching have been discussed above but seems like we're forgetting Livo. He shouldn't be forgotten. He gets people out. Let's not dismiss him.

  17. UNTERP.NAT - May 16, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    FYI: Roger Bernadina collected best play of the week from MLB network out of 80 plays. Pretty good count down to Bernie's sensational catch…

  18. Big Cat - May 16, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Charlie Slowes was talking about a guy named Brad Meyers. A tall 26 year old lefty, who was recently promoted from AA to Syracuse. At Harrisburg he was 3-2 in 6 starts. In 36 innings he had 38 k's and 0 bb's. Thats right….Zero bb's. That is unheard of. He went 7 scoreless the other night.

  19. natsfan1a - May 16, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Unterp: niiiice, thanks for the update.

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