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Small victories

Sep 10, 2011, 3:58 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Jayson Werth is mobbed by Michael Morse and Jonny Gomes after his 11th-inning hit.

It’s far too late in the season for a team like the Nationals to salvage the big picture. Even with Friday night’s 4-3, 11-inning victory over the Astros, this club is 10 games under .500 with 20 to play. Any realistic shot at a winning record has long since vanished.

And the Nationals have run out of time to snap out of their yearlong offensive funk and finish with some respectable numbers at the plate.

But there still are small victories to be won, individual accomplishments and important developments that will allow everyone to head home for the winter feeling a bit better about themselves and their team.

Friday’s extra-inning game featured several of those small victories, starting with the man who wound up delivering the game-winning hit … well, sort of. With two on and one out in the 11th, Jayson Werth smashed a hard grounder toward third base. Houston’s Jimmy Paredes (who had just entered the game) had trouble corralling the ball, then made a late and off-line throw to second base. The ball squirted
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  1. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    I'm glad to see Jayson Werth start to assert himself as a Nat. However, if Werth's bat doesn't "heat up" until August when the team is already 20 or more games out of first place, Werth's offensive value to the Nats will be minimal, at best, for the length of his [LONG] contract.

  2. Andrew - Sep 10, 2011 at 5:14 AM

    Its nice to see Jayson Werth cheered. I will load up later the video I took of the walk-off.PS – Good seeing you Mark Z.!

  3. Doc - Sep 10, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Way to keep it real Mark. The offense never did come alive this year, except for the guys that you mentioned. Spurts and growing pains by the newbies. The vets like Werth lived below the consistency line. Still I like his honest remarks.Baseball being a game of inches, maybe the inches will be on our side next season. If everybody on the team learned something, then next year will be more successful.

  4. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Victory or not, it's still painful to watch this severely offensively challenged team.

  5. baseballswami - Sep 10, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Yes, we won the game on someone else's error. How many times have we been on the other end of that? In every season there is skill, there are mistakes and there is luck. This really is a game of inches, referee judgement and happenstance. I would like to see the skills get sharper, the mistakes reduced to first -half levels and the rest – you just roll with it, adjust, capitalize when something comes your way. Hoping that everyone is patient this weekend at Natspark and realizes that keeping everyone safe is the first priority. And – Go Nats!

  6. Analytical Nat - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    sjm308 said…Just got home from a WIN – as I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't care if its pretty, I just want us to start winning.Winning is good. It might be the most important stat in sports.

  7. Mick - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    I think lesatec suggested blowing up the Nats bullpen, R U JOKING. why would you blow up the one superior part of the team???Clip and Storen are the best relief in MLB, I hope he was not suggesting that?

  8. N. Cognito - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    The hitting was just never been there all season long.The defense was average, got hot and returned to average/below average.The starting pitching started off the season very strong, much better than average, but regressed towards expectations, still having a good year.The relief pitching started out strong and then displayed erratic behavior as the ERAs rose significantly, but then, except for bad relievers and very good relievers, most relievers are erratic.Teams have seasons where everything comes together and seasons where everything falls apart. I'm hoping this season is the later for the Nats offense and the relief pitching.

  9. Gonat - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    It looks like a new type of Walk-off celebration. I think Morse nailed Werth with the Rosin Bag. Too funny!

  10. NatsLady - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Re: the bullpen, from Nats News NetworkTHE GOOD: The bullpen. Stammen, Hot Rod, Storen and Clippard (W, 3-0, 1.96) went 5 1/3 shutout innings, giving up just two hits and no walks in the process with seven strikeouts.

  11. Gonat - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Anonymous said… Victory or not, it's still painful to watch this severely offensively challenged team. September 10, 2011 8:22 AM _____________________________Still not the worst in the Majors and if you look at the San Francisco Giants you can win if your pitching is all aces.The team just needs better balance. Hitting isn't contagious on this team. They rarely pile on runs. The relief pitching wouldn't look so bad if they gave up a run or 2 when you have a 6 run lead.

  12. m20832 - Sep 10, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Winning on an error is still more fun than losing! I'll take a win like this any day!GYFBNG!!!

  13. Andrew - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Gonat said… It looks like a new type of Walk-off celebration. I think Morse nailed Werth with the Rosin Bag. Too funny! September 10, 2011 9:20 AM Here's the video I shot last nighthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfjmm7pF7hkClick here for the Walk-Off Video Jayson WerthCheck out Morse nailing Werth with the rosin bag!

  14. LoveDaNats - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Went to the game last night. A gorgeous night after all that rain. I'll definitely take the win, no matter how ugly it was. There was a die-hard Astros fan in front of me, cheering every Astro as he walked to the plate. After the game, I was tempted to say "It's ok, buddy. I was you two years ago."For the Nationals to be able to go from the worst team in baseball to having at least 9 teams with a worse record this year has absolutely been a step in the right direction. I'm seeing the glass half full and liking it.

  15. baseballswami - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    After seeing what the Dodgers did to the Giants last night I feel a little better about our series with them – they are really hot right now. And I am also glad we didn't have to face Clayton "Cy Young" Kershaw – he scares me – he would have no-hit us for sure. Seems like we have often managed to hit a team with a so-so record when they are on a hot streak. Afraid that may happen with the Mets next week. I hope not because I just love it when we beat the Mets. After the Astros it's all NLEast up to the end. 4 Mets, 4 Phils, 3 Braves and 6 (!) Marlins. Hang on to your seats and stock up on bourbon and maalox! ( a shout out to Flynnie, of course)

  16. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    LoveDaNats – you've got to respect a fan like that. I hope we don't get smug and obnoxious when we get really good – ok, well, maybe just a little.

  17. baseballswami - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    LoveDaNats – I think every season ( except the first – anybody remember that almost all of the games were not even televised?) — I have sweated out not losing 100. That was the goal – don't lose 100.Every season I marked the point where we could get to 63 so that wouldn't happen. This year when that 63cd win happened I wasn't even aware of it. That's a switch. Sure, I had ending records in mind that I thought would be cool – winning 75, for example. But I knew we were not staring 100 losses in the face anymore. I still would love to see us NOT finish in 5th but with 19 games left, all but 2 in the nl east, who knows what is going to happen?

  18. Jeeves - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Amazing what a year can do. Arizonia had 65 wins last year, third worst in the NL. And, on paper at least, the Nats will have a better team next year than the D-Backs have this year, especially with the injury to Drew.With a couple of tweaks this winter, I can see the Nats challenging for a playoff position. Of course, the big boys are going to have to step up. That's the key. Take the pressure off the kids and I believe they will produce.

  19. m20832 - Sep 10, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    The Nats have done remarkably well against the filthies and Braves. But the Marlins have just downright owned the boys. I could stand to see more wins, even ugly wins like last night against the fish.

  20. Drew8 - Sep 10, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    The Nats have 19 games left — they lost one because of the last rainout with the Dodgers, which has not been rescheduled.They need to get today's game and the Sept. 11 game with Strasburg tomorrow.So far, they're 3-4 in this homestand against bad teams. I hope this won't seem a missed opportunity, given that the Nats finish up with Fish, Phillies, Braves, Fish.

  21. Drew8 - Sep 10, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    On another topic, as the nuns sang in The Sound of Music: "How do you solve a problem like Marrero?"In other words, it's more a puzzler than a problem. The kid has value — he gets on base, draws walks and has SOME extra base power.But if the offensive upside is somewhere between Wes Parker and a healthy Nick Johnson, do you make that guy your future first baseman?Gosh, I have trouble seeing it. Like I said, he has value, but he's never hit more than 23 homers, and he hit them when he was 18. He's not a sterling first baseman and he doesn't play another position.We've presumed all along that the Nats would go get a centerfielder in FA, but what if they don't? What if they really do plan to go with Werth in center and Morse and (eventually) Harper on the corners?I guess that offers a scenario in which you could trade LaRoche at the deadline and put Marrero at first. But I still think it's more likely that Morse moves back to first when LaRoche is dealt and Harper comes up.I'm not down on Chris — but it's hard to see a long-term fit.

  22. Anonymous8 - Sep 10, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Drew8, last night Marrero got the elusive hit w/ RISP. He is now 1 for 8. Glad to see he went clutch. This team I believe is best with LaRoche at 1st and let him mentor young Mr. Marrero. If the Nats aren't in the playoff hunt, you trade LaRoche at the trade deadline.I don't buy the playing everyday thing unless you are a middle infielder which leads me to think Marrero has to be here next year as a bench role player to face lefty pitching, pinch hit.

  23. Doc - Sep 10, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    @ Andrew: Thanks for the video. Morse likes to take punk shots at Werth–he's always doing it. I guess they must be good friends. Watch how Morse smacks Werth around after Werth hits a HR.

  24. baseballswami - Sep 10, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Drew8 – agreed that we need to get to the astros for two more games. Actually – we need to play much better than we did last night. Go LannEn – last starting pitcher standing from the beginning of the season! I will have to disagree with you that the Dodgers are a bad team, though — their record isn't great, but they have been playing really well lately. After the Astros, it's the nl east gauntlet. Time to get the Fish off our backs! ( stanton has a bad hammy, by the way) This could be a very important statement for our team going into the off-season.

  25. lesatcsc - Sep 10, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Mick:You must have me confused with someone else, I don't recall posting on the Nats bullpen. I think Clip and Store are excellent and don't even get excited when they have a sub-par outing because they are both so good the majority of the time. The rest of the bullpen hasn't been great, it's been spotty; runs of good performance mixed with inconsistent stretches. That probably isn't different from most ML bullpens. I think they need to establish a "long" reliever, but they have several candidates to choose from so that's more of a question of deciding who is going to take on that role. They could use one more dominant guy to get them to Clip and Store.I'm not your "blow up the bullpen" guy!

  26. sjm308 - Sep 10, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    lesatcsc: the stats probably don't back me up on this but I really think that guy is Coffey. If he was given just that role of one inning I think you would see a big difference. Again, this is just my gut and old eyes but he really is not bad if you let him start an inning and just pitch to that inning alone. I agree that Clip and Storen are total keepers and if you think about HRod, Mattheus, and even Kimball we have a bunch of good arms out there. Notice I did not mention a lefty. I don't think they want to use Detwiler so maybe its between Gorzo and Burnett and I am not sold on either one.

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