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At last, results to match performance

Jun 18, 2011, 5:12 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ian Desmond eludes Matt Wieters’ tag to score in the fifth inning.

For weeks, Jim Riggleman would praise his Nationals for the manner in which they were playing clean baseball. Pitching well. Playing sparkling defense.

The only problem: They weren’t actually winning those games, making the manager’s sentiments feel a bit hollow at times.

“Guys are tired of hearing about how good they’re playing, but we’re not winning games,” Riggleman said. “It’s just the nature of the game. If you play good, eventually you’re going to win games, and we’ve done that here lately.”

Have they ever. The Nationals not only are playing their best baseball in a long time, they finally have the results to match. With an 8-4 thumping of the Orioles Friday night, they extended their longest winning streak in two years to seven games, moved to within two games of the .500 mark and moved into a tie for third place in the NL East.

Having withstood some rocky times during the season’s first two months, times in which the clubhouse could have become fractured,
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  1. Gonat - Jun 18, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    This team can make comebacks and then also answer the unanswered runs and hold the lead and win.How does a team get 18 hits and only 2 runs? ESPN made a point to mention Derrek Lee, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis combined for 13 hits and didn't get any RBIs. Incredible when you ponder that. 13 for 15 and no RBIs. Jones and Markakis were on the bases a combined 8 times and scored 0 times.

  2. WhyNat - Jun 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Fun at the park last night. I have really been enjoying Hairston's play – did a nice job filling in for Zim, and had a great night last night. The streak has nicely silenced the Riggleman haters. Now that we are winning some laughers, I for one am enjoying Riggleman's Isle.

  3. Andrew - Jun 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPc60KugzBUIn case you missed this segment on MLB Network last night about the Washington Nationals, I uploaded it.Enjoy! Washington Nationals MLB Network Link

  4. dj in Fl. - Jun 18, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Thanks for the link Andrew.If I wasn't enjoying the moment so much I might be anxious for 2012. That said, the day there are 100 buses heading north for a Phillies game can not get here to soon.

  5. Jasoneducator - Jun 18, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    I certainly was not expecting them to be this close to .500 at this point in they year, especially with Zim going down and Adam LaRoche being a subreplacement ballplayer. Imagine what would have happened had we lost both Zim and Adam Dunn for an extended period last year. I shudder at the thought. This team shows just how far pitching and defense can take you. If only they had one more pitcher in their rotation to make Maya and Gorzelanny pitch even better to keep their rotation slots…..

  6. natsfan1a - Jun 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Thanks, Andrew. Will check it out. Speaking of MLB Network, was watching the end of the NYY-Cubs game yesterday and saw Reed Johnson make a great catch that helped preserve the lead for Chicago (haha). If memory serves, Johnson made a similarly good catch at Nationals Park at one point (also for the Cubbies).In other news, mmmm….those Toasted O's were very tasty this a.m. I'm not normally one for cereal at dinner time, but I think I could go for some more crunchies this evening.

  7. Neal - Jun 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Jasoneducator: Maya's been sent back to the minors and he's not coming back anytime son. Gorzelanny was pitching quite well until his last 2 outings. Let's hope it was his injury that was causing it. We'll find out this Sunday.

  8. natsfan1a - Jun 18, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Which reminds me, did that great fan snag show up on MLB Network last night (barehanded, leaning over the rail)? FP was giving him props. I noticed that one of the dude's companions was sporting a Cuba t-shirt. Later, the broadcasters were dissing another fan who was wearing a glove but missed on a chance at a ball. :-)

  9. Mr Old Style - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Ballpark OperationsA bit of a mess at the ballpark last night. Didn't bother me, but was probably bad for future business. The park was rather full last night (35,562) and the lines were very long at most stands for the better part of the night. Lines moved slowly and by the middle innings the registers throughout the park were only accepting cash or were not operating at all. Crazy. The concessions operate fine with a crowd around 25,000 or less, but they need to find a way and plan ahead for games with big crowds to ensure the best experience. There were some of the same issues last year during the Stras games. Things need to run smoothly during big games so they win over new fans and keep those of us who have been around through the loosing years happy.

  10. Andrew - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    natsfan1a and others, glad you liked the video. I actually watched it Live and then did a rewind to tape it as I thought it was interesting watching the Nats getting some serious air time in a positive way.The 2013 projection with maybe even Goodwin and a Free Agent pitcher in the rotation could make things real interesting.By the way, the Nats are now 11-3 in games that Jason Marquis starts. There is something that he brings to this team that is special and the turnaround on this team was on May 31st in that gem where Jason Marquis beat Cliff Lee in that 10-2 win.

  11. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    AAAAH – what a sweet week in Natstown! Anyone see the "Wind Beneath My Wings" video of Espi's walk off sportsbog? Pretty cool. It's nice to see smiles in the dugout. Ride the wave, nats fans, enjoy it!

  12. Mark'd - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Andrew, very kind of you to upload that video. You already have a bunch of hits. I saw you had video of the Espinosa HRs in that game against the Phillies.

  13. FS - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    I think MLB Network has made couple of mistakes. I do not see Harper up in the major so soon and even Rendon on the opening day roster of 2012. My perfect scenario involves Sabathia opting out of his contract and coming here, and we get a true lead-off hitter (maybe bring back Sizemore once CLE opts out of his option). I prefer a left-handed, CF that can complete the outfield with Werth at RF and Morse in LF, Nix being the fourth outfielder. With CC's addition, our rotation is something like CC, SS, JZ, Livo, Lannan. Move Gorzo to relief, we do need another lefty reliever. Anyways, involves lot of spending but my major concern is a CF, lead-off type.

  14. rogieshan - Jun 18, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Imagine the impact a healthy Strasburg would make, but do the Nats suddenly become buyers now? For weeks we've heard rumors surrounding Coffey, Marquis & Clippard. An inch closer to .500 and a possible wild-card run could change all that. Tough decisions ahead for Rizzo and co.

  15. AndesAngle - Jun 18, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said:"Having withstood some rocky times…"The team has come through tough times as Mark said. I like the way they have been resilient.I also think the fans have been patient. I am proud of my team and will always be a fan of that team!http://andesangle.blogspot.com/2011/06/your-fan-of-that-team.html

  16. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Bad News FolksThe word I have is that Ryan Zim has not changed his throwing mechanics to avoid injury. the truth is that the Nats and Zim are freaking out because his throw has gotten worse — much worse.Fear? that Zim has Sasser's disease: the inability to throw the baseball to a given close in target — it's all in the head. Steve Sax also had this problem.This problem will become obvious within the next few games.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 54 43 --
ATLANTA 54 45 1.0
MIAMI 46 52 8.5
NEW YORK 46 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 56 12.0
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

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.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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