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Takeout leads to breakout

Aug 3, 2011, 4:07 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Jonny Gomes’ takeout slide of David Ross set up Rick Ankiel’s grand slam.

The ball screamed off Rick Ankiel’s bat and soared toward center field, bringing four runners across the plate and the crowd at Nationals Park to its feet. That fourth-inning grand slam put the Nationals on top of the Braves and set them on a course toward a thoroughly enjoyable, 9-3 victory.

But the play that made Ankiel’s slam possible — and the play everyone was raving about inside the Nationals’ clubhouse afterward — came moments earlier, when Jonny Gomes upended catcher David Ross with a takeout slide, breaking up a potential double play and keeping the inning alive so Ankiel could step to the plate.

There’s your turning point of the night.

“Absolutely,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “Absolutely. Get the next guy to the plate and anything’s possible. If he doesn’t take him out right there like that, that might be a double play. Changes the momentum totally.”

There were no shortage of positive developments for the Nationals during their fourth straight victory, their most-lopsided win since Davey Johnson took over as manager. Ankiel clubbed the grand slam, his third homer in two days. Michael Morse crushed a ball into
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  1. Don't know much of that French I took - Aug 3, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    Maybe it's goes along with having "good chemistry" in the clubhouse, that the trading deadline, or the manager walking out, or who know what's next, messes with their heads and their games, but they do seem to bounce back sooner rather than later (or not at all).

  2. SonnyG10 - Aug 3, 2011 at 4:41 AM

    Wow! See what happens when the offense, defense, starting pitching, and bullpen hit on all cylinders at the same time. What a joy that game was to watch. I was at the game in the diamond club section and got to see everything up close. Now if we can just sweep the Braves tomorrow…er, today now.

  3. Quantum Leap - Aug 3, 2011 at 4:54 AM

    This would be a really good week to be Rick Ankiel.

  4. flynnie - Aug 3, 2011 at 4:56 AM

    flynnie said…Very interesting, Exposremains. If Detwiler is a starter, that changes the equation, good young starters under club control being the coin of the realm in MLB. I share NatsLady's affection for Bourn, but would defer to Davey's and Frank's instincts in seeing the potential in a young player. Maybe it's because I won and am optimistic, but when you look at this year's Jose Bautista (MVP in MLB after 5 clubs gave up on him); Gas Canrahan being an All-Star closer; Emilio Bonifacio being an MVP for the Marlins and Marlon Byrd for the Cubs. Should we have held onto all of them (would have had to acquire Bautista)? Looks like it.August 2, 2011 11:57 PM John Long Ball LannEn said…Flynnie, I know Alfonso Soriano is persona non grata in some quarters here, but still, money aside (and why not, it ain't my money), don't leave him off your list.August 3, 2011 12:04 AMWho was it – Crazy Joe Guillen? – who said that you couldn't hit homers in RFK until Soriano started wrapping them around the left field foul pole? I love looking at Baseball Reference's "Top Player" for the Nats:2005 – John Patterson (I'd have said the Chief, but Patsy was awesome-I recall several standing o's that I joined in full-throated cry because of his heroics.2006- Alphonso Soriano.2007- 2010 Ryan Zimmerman with the important exception of 2008 – All-Star Christian Guzman (after his laser eye surgery?)2011 – so far, Tyler Clippard.

  5. Adam - Aug 3, 2011 at 5:14 AM

    So is it safe to say Jayson Werth is back and finally earning the Lerner's $$$?

  6. flynnie - Aug 3, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    Pythagorean is interesting. record should have been manager2005: 81-81 77-85 Frank Robinson 2006: 71-91 70-92 Frank Robinson2007 73-89 70-92 Manny Acta2008 59-102 62-92 Manny Acta2009 59-103 66-96 Manny Acta; Jim Riggleman2010 69-93 72-90 Jim Riggleman2011 53-56 53-56 Jim Riggleman, John McLaren, Davey Johnson

  7. sunderland - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Mark – Glad you told us what Ross was arguing about. He was so far off the plate, I wasn't sure if he was arguing about the call at the plate or that he was interfered with in trying to make the throw. Either argument would have been ridiculous. It was indeed great how Gomes attacked the plate and slid to take Ross out. And also great that Ross gave us this quote."It's a clean play, try to take me out, try to break up a double play is what he was doing," Ross said.

  8. dale - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    The most important note from this four game winning streak–the starting pitching is back.Oh, yeah, and the Nats are scoring runs again.I love watching a team with swagger, and so does Davey.

  9. Anonymous - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    A great and entertaining last 4 games. It's too bad CMW is pitching today. A sweep would be nice. For those of you who want to criticize my negative comments about CMW check back at 2-2:30pm. I'll be the guy who said I told you so. Should have been Marquis start.

  10. Anonymous - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    On HR not getting a save. I thought that a pitcher that comes into a game with two runners on base and seven outs to go would be equivalent to getting 9 outs and a save. I guess not.

  11. Hates anonymous posters - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Well, will be glad to say you're right about Wang — whoever you are.

  12. that's I Told You So - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    7:31 et al., see the save rule posted in response in the last thread.

  13. The Dude Abides - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    I have no problem with your Wang prognostication provided that you acknowledge a "well done" should he manage 5 or more innings of 2 runs or less. I'm not saying that's what he'll do, but if he does, we'll all be satisfied at this stage of his recovery. (Even though you're still a wuss for being "anonymous".)

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    flynnie…. How can you put Clippard over Morse as the Nats "Player of the Year"?Granted, Tyler has been terrific but Morse has been even better in the field and at the plate.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    On another note, it's time to acknowledge that John LannEn is as solid a # 4 or 5 starter as there is in the National League. Those splits they showed from the time of his demotion to Harrisburg last season till today are as good as it gets. And you really have to appreciate his maturation as a 26 year old left hander. This guy is becoming super valuable.

  16. baseballswami - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    I think any discussion that ends with …." of the year" — mvp, rookie, etc. HAS to have separate designations for pitcher and position player — comparing them is just apples and oranges. Thus — Clippard is pitcher, Morse is position player. If Ankiel keeps playing like this – I even might start to like him. I still think he is too free a swinger – sometimes you run into one, yes, but overall, maybe not the best approach. We'll see how it plays out. Also – can Bob Carpenter stay and Ray Knight go? Ever since Davey Johnson arrived in town Ray Knight just can't shut up about how much he loves him. He even asked Desi a " question " in postgame – don't you just love playing for Davey, and on and on and on. What was Desi supposed to say? No problem with how the game was managed or anything ( in a game like that, can you really complain?) it's just that it's nauseating how many times during the game he fawns over him. — Ok I get that you adore him, now shut up about it and talk about the team and the players and the game. Oh – and did you see him auditioning to be the hitting coach in the batting cage? Tired of the love-fest.

  17. NatsLady - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    That was so fun. Had to work, but went back and watch the innings where we scored and where Hentry pitched. Great effort by all!!GO NATS, GO WANG.

  18. Feel Wood - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Re the save rule, that three-inning save part of it is really an outlier from the way the rest of the rule is written. You have to wonder why they put it in, because it allows a pitcher to be credited with a save in some pretty ridiculous situations. For instance, Steven Shell picked up a save for pitching the last three innings of the Nats' 10-0 win over the Astros on 7/11/08. And in perhaps the most stress-free save in history, Rangers pitcher Wes Littleton got one for pitching the last three innings of the 30-3 smackdown they laid on the Orioles in 2007.

  19. NatsLady - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    And since I had to hear Carpenter and FP, I must say, they were both very professional, and if something was hanging over Carp's head, I didn't spot it.

  20. baseballswami - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    NatsJack – agreed about LannEn's development. I remember his first start – the one where he broke Utley's hand? ( laughing as I type) Significant milestones — his time in the minors last year, his defeat of the Phillies on June 1st – I was at that game and he really dug down to get that one – it seemed to boost his confidence. I also have noticed that he seems physically bigger, more muscular and more imposing this year. His demeanor on the mound is more aggressive, too. It's been nice to watch his development. We have other guys who are probably going to continue to grow physically, too, since a lot of them are so young. Can you imagine Bryce in 5 years? Could be Stanton-like.

  21. sjm308 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Want to second the "big lebowski's" post – its so easy to post the negative post and then switch it up with all the anons out there – of course Wang will probably not pitch the way our other starters have but if he can just keep improving each time out it sets him up for a "second career" which would be a nice story. Even nicer if its with us.We are getting some interesting names in here – besides the Dude, we have part of a song title from the 50's/60's and a jab at the anons. To me, best name is still "Sunshine Bobby etc etc but hat is also because of his special drink.Go Nats

  22. Unkyd - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    The Gorse-Hacker gets my vote, too…

  23. sjm308 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    I continue to get excited about 2012 & 13Next year we should have SS, JZ, and JL and the competition for the last two spots, even if Rizzo does not add a top notch guy (which I think he will try and do) will be outstanding: Peacock, Milone, Detwiler, Gorzo, Maya, maybe Livan and Wang plus I am sure I am leaving a bunch of good minor leaguers out.

  24. Hoping to educate anonymous posters on how to identify themselves - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Ankiel and Wang both have my admiration for reinventing themselves, and arriving back at the MLB level. Takes guts and work and love of the game.

  25. JaneB - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    The only access I has to this game was on the scroll at the bottom of ESPNs dumb poker game. When I saw Desi hit a dinger, I sent a mental high five to you, Unkyd.I love Henry when he is locating. I'm glad he was last night.Alternate Universe Ankiel…keep that streak alive. So glad to read Zimm side armed a throw last night and Werth has found his groove. Saw the Gomes take out of the catcher on baseball tonight from about five angles…I like that guy!Last night, as I saw we were going to win (unlike some poor guy who poker bad poker decisions all night), I told my Dad that my guys just won four in a row. He said, "listen….you grew up a Mets fan. You know better than to get excited over a streak. And I am overlooking this switch in allegiance because I love you. But I'm glad that Werth guy is coming around." Nats fans come in all stripes, even if they don't recognize it themselves, yet.

  26. Big Cat - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Good to see the Nats swing the bats some. Makes the game very easy for Davey. Michael Morse goes upper deck to right center…..are you kiddin me. If the fence is 375, what are we talkin bout here? 475…500 feet? That was an absolute titanic blast, one we will be talking about for years

  27. NatsLady - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    @baseballswami: very true on the pitcher vs. position player comparison. Nevertheless, as fine a player as Morse has turned out to be, my opinion is that if Clippard's arm holds out, we got a once in a generation player, and not as a starting pitcher.I'm not saying he's perfect–he wasn't perfect in the All-Star game, but he's the one Bochy called on. Clip is the one who'll win the playoffs for you. The team will get you there, and you will put Clip in when you need two strikeouts and a popup, in the bottom of the 8th with the bases loaded. You will go Stras to XYZ to Storen. On the other days, you have to have Clip.

  28. NatsLady - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Loved the home runs, and Lannan's grit, and Henry out there scaring them to DEATH! I was a little on the fence with Henry, but what a load of talent he is, if that can just be harnessed.

  29. JaneB - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    NatsLady, I love tha image of Strasburg to Clip to Storen. Two once in a generation players on OUR TEAM! At the SAME TIME!

  30. NatsLady - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Clip doesn't have the "glamour" job of starter or closer, but he was the right guy to be chosen for the All-Star Game, with the stats to prove it. I had to laugh recalling the Ranger-Orioles blowout. And this year vs. the Twins… they sure to like to pile up them runs.

  31. m20832 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Wishing that this four (five?) game win streak will continue and is foretelling we fans what the rest of this season will be like. At least they won't be facing Jimenez when they go to Colorado.GYFNG!!!

  32. Joe Seamhead - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    A few observations from being at the game last night that would not have been seen on the tube:When Jonny Gomes took the field, he did this crazy little dance as he trotted across the infield, heading to LF. For some reason Rick Dempsey came to my mind. Just a guy loving life being on a MLB roster.The other was the way the crowd really cheered wildly for Henry Rodriquez in the 9th. He seemed to really be getting off on the positive mojo coming his way. I really think that last night was a huge confidence builder for him. Gotta give DJ some credit there,too.For two nights in a row the home crowd would have no part in that tomahawk chop nonsense, either. Not in our house! Now, if enough of us would show up to shut the Phills ' fans up when they come to town.

  33. NatsLady - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I admit to a little surprise when Charlie and Dave said no one warming in the pen, and Henry coming in for the 9th. But if you are not going to trust him with a 6 run lead, then when. Good for Davey, good for Henry. Now the bullpen is fresh, let's hope Wang/Gorzy can get at least to the 7th inning and not be in too deep of a hole.I'd be glad for a sweep but I hate the Arizona Diamondbacks (being very careful on spelling here).

  34. Steve M. - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… On another note, it's time to acknowledge that John LannEn is as solid a # 4 or 5 starter as there is in the National League. Those splits they showed from the time of his demotion to Harrisburg last season till today are as good as it gets. And you really have to appreciate his maturation as a 26 year old left hander. This guy is becoming super valuable. August 3, 2011 8:10 AM Lannen is starting to be dominant in crucial situations against left-handed batters once again. Sure Constanza got some hits off of him but I loved that he controlled Freeman and Bourn most of the night. With the lefty dominant Braves and Phillies, you need dominant lefty starters.His year over year numbers and ERA definitely make him a respectable #4. For next season, the team will need a #3 and can pull in the #5 from whoever is the young stud from Spring Training.Talking about pitching, still most impressive to me was how the Nats bashed around Jair Jurjjens for the 2nd straight time after all his previous dominance.

  35. FS - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Oh and Lannan might make two starts against Phillies this month. Should be interesting.I think instead of this offseason, Nats should wait for next offseason to add an arm. This offseason not many good SP are available: Buehrle, CJ, Carpenter, Sabathia (if opts out). but next offseason: Cain, Weaver, Greinke, Hamels, Marcum, Sanchez (Anibal and Jonathon), Shields, and Peavy among others. 2013 FA class is looking too awesome. You can probably make an all star team and rotation from that class. Likely some of these names will drop out as we approach that offseason, but not all. I think our top need is still CF hitting leadoff, through trade. if we can add one solid pitcher on a one or two year deal.

  36. Big Cat - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    Didn't the Braves have the infield in with Werth on 3rd with one out in the 2nd inning? I think that showed Lannan a lot of respect.

  37. fpcsteve - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Nats Jack, what kind of hitter do you think Espinosa is going to be long term? I'm especially interested in BA and OBP. I keep thinking he is going to break out, and he keeps struggling to reach .250. Where will he be by the end of the season? Long-term, what will he do?

  38. LoveDaNats - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    @Joe SeamheadI was also at the game last night. You were right about the crowd getting into it for HRod. He can be very scary when he's "bad" Henry but "good" Henry showed up last night. Heck, "good" Nats showed up last night! Enjoyable game all around

  39. Anonymous - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Can't wait til HR is a starting pitcher.

  40. Big Cat - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Milone shelled his last 2 AAA starts.Marrero on fire at Syracuse. Up to .309Moore killing it at Harrisburg. 3 for 4 last night with another bomb. Now at .278 with 25 HR'sHarper at .238 in Harrisburg. He will be fine. We forget he is only 18 years old and is in his first "dog days" of summer

  41. Steve M. - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    NatsLady said… Loved the home runs, and Lannan's grit, and Henry out there scaring them to DEATH! I was a little on the fence with Henry, but what a load of talent he is, if that can just be harnessed. August 3, 2011 8:45 AM Henry Rodriguez, this is the man who 1 week ago comes into the Marlins game and gives up 3 hits, 3 walks, 1 HR and 5 Earned Runs after only recording 1 out. He pitched 2 days after that and got through 2 innings with only 1 earned run still missing his target.With 4 games of rest, Davey goes to HRod in the 7th inning in a stopper situation with one of the hottest hitters at the plate and 2 on. A HR by Uggla would make the game 9-6. Instead HRod painted the corner for strike 3 looking with 99 MPH heat. 1 hit and NO WALKS in 2.1 innings. So who is this guy? Can he do this consistently? I was hoping he would be put on the DL like Gaudin and Slaten and not heard from again. Hoping I was wrong about HenRod.

  42. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Everyone knows that Danny needs to shorten his swing, especially from the left side. Lately, he's been showing slight improvement by "barreling up" a couple of shots to the left side of the field. He's showing signs of improving but he still over swings way to much.Watched MLB network yesterday afternoon and Danny so much as admitted to a "failed approach" by him as the biggest problem to developing consistency. Once he learns to shorten his stroke (something he was going to work on exclusively last winter in Puerto Rico but the hammate thing squashed that) I think you'll see a guy that developes into a .275 – .290 hitter with the ability to pop 20 – 25 HR's and 75 – 90 RBI's from the 2 or the 6 hole.Hopefully, this winter he can play 3 months of Carribean ball get that stroke shortened.

  43. baseballswami - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    This was the perfect opportunity for MPHRod to throw a lot of outs. The game was pretty well in hand ( never totally out of hand, of course) and we had other people available to pitch if he got in trouble. He reminds me of Nuke Laloosh from Bull Durham – the batters never quite know where the ball is going, but they know it's coming fast. He cracks me up. Gomes – like his style. We have some talented, exciting players on this team and the last few days have reminded us of that. I hope the hot, mid-summer doldrums and trade nerves are over now. On to the signings, the return of SS, then call ups. It's not the post- season, YET, but still some good stuff to look forward to and stay excited about.

  44. Steve M. - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Tell me if this is just a strange/good coincidence. Corey Brown and Henry Rodriguez who both came over in the Willingham trade had their best nights on the same night.Corey Brown for AAA Syracuse went 4 for 5 with 2 HRs last night.Also of note, Jerry Hairston's trade for Erik Komatsu went 2 for 4 with a SB in his Harrisburg debut.

  45. baseballswami - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    NatsJack – on the broadcast yesterday they said that Danny was trying a heavier bat. Even though his numbers are not good lately, average-wise, he has really hit into some bad luck with balls that he just smoked. First full season, good defense, switch hitter, power bat – that's a lot to handle. Loved the interview on mlb – he is really a competitive , gritty kid. Seems like he might start watching Gomes and emulating him – they seem like they have similar attitudes and playing styles.

  46. Unkyd - Aug 3, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Lol, JaneB!!! 2 fer 3, with a sac, 2 runs, 3 RBI…So, who gets to .260 first… Desi or Jayson?

  47. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 3, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Let the record show that last night I wrote:"Great game so far, but I'm leaving a bit early for a minor league game — I just can't bear to watch HRod right now."First, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Rodriguez. He obviously did very well and I should never have doubted him. Please, Mr. Rodriguez, keep up the good work. I was wrong to doubt you.Second, having successfully avoided watching a Nats reliever melting down, at the Emeralds game I attended the Ems' HRod-equivalent (big guy, throws hard, but kinda wild) proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced — the second with the bases loaded), thus bringing in the tying run in the 7th.Luckily the Ems escaped with a win, but there's some real baseball karma (or, at least, irony) in there somewhere.

  48. DFL - Aug 3, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    I guess Rick Ankiel has hold on the centerfielder job for at least two weeks.

  49. Joe Seamhead - Aug 3, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Henry Rodriquez' style and inconsistencies remind me of the early Armando Benitez. DFL- Wouldn't it be sweet if Ankiel keeps hitting like he has since coming off the DL? The guy has a great arm, natural outfielder's radar, and wonderful heart and soul, the last of which there seems to be an abundance of on this team.

  50. DFL - Aug 3, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    I'm rooting for Ankiel, Joe. He's no true lead-off batter, that's for sure. Sometimes you have to improvise. But Ankiel plays his position well. If he can hit with some pop and hit near .250, he'll do for now.

  51. Theophilus - Aug 3, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    HRod is not Benitez. Benitez was the original "anybody can hit a 100-mph pitch if it's straight" guy. HRod also has a breaking ball that really falls off the table. On the other hand, he's likely to throw one to the backstop a couple of times a night. Benitez didn't have control but pretty much got the ball to the catcher.HRod, therefore, has the dreaded "potential" that can cause fatal ultra-violet over-exposure while you are waiting for him to harness it. I think this is one of those short-term "pieces" Rizzo has says he has acquired with the hope of flipping it for a long-term "piece." I hope.

  52. Joe Seamhead - Aug 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Early on, as in in his first whole season, Benitez averaged 7 walks per 9 innings pitched, and he hit 5 batters. All I was saying is that HRod reminded me of him, not that he was Benitez. Theo, you are correct in Benitez didn't have much of a curve.As far as Henry's longevity with the club, that remains to be seen.

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ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
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