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Game 159: Nats at Marlins

Sep 26, 2011, 7:41 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
Sun Life Stadium hosts its final three ballgames this week.

Not that anyone is going to miss Joe Robbie Pro Player Dolphin Dolphins Land Shark Sun Life Stadium, but the Nationals REALLY won't miss that place, which hosts its final three baseball games this week.

The Nationals have gone an abysmal 16-35 at the home of the Marlins since 2006, not to mention sat through countless rain delays, battled shoddy field conditions and played in front of literally dozens of fans at times.

But the Nats arrive in Miami for this final series riding the wave of their late-season surge. They've won 12 of 15 and still can finish with their first-ever winning record if they sweep these three games. Tommy Milone takes the mound for his fifth big-league start (the Nats have won all of his previous four). He'll be opposed by right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

Much as I wish I could be there, it just wasn't possible to travel with our newborn son. Enjoy the game and the conversation as always…

Where: Sun Life Stadium
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM, JIP at 8:30), WHFS (1580 AM), XM 188
Weather: Scattered storms, 84 degrees, Wind 5 mph RF to LF

SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse

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230 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. baseballswami - Sep 27, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    The morning after – tired, but, oh well… did they really pitch to Morse with 2 on and 2 out in the 9th? Really? Ozzie won't do that next year I think. On the highlights it sounds like there were a lot of nats fans in the park – more than the fish? I know our team has a lot of guys from Florida – friends and family making all that noise? Was this a Nats invasion of SunLife? Did anyone actually care? I look at 79-80 and I have to do a double take. Sweet. I don't care what Johnson says – I love third place and I do think it matters.

  2. A DC Wonk - Sep 27, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    On the highlights it sounds like there were a lot of nats fans in the park – more than the fish?Actually, there were only about 1200 Nats fans there.OTOH, there were only about 600 Fish fans ;-)

  3. MicheleS - Sep 27, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    That was a sweet victory. So glad we got that win.. I love Beast's reaction when he hit that ball.. He knew as soon as he hit it that it was gone! 2 Left people! Lets make them count!

  4. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Oh, yeah!!! Went to bed before the game ended and woke up to a happy game results email. O.M.G. GYFNG!! (Wait, can we still say that?? Or should it perhaps be GY*NG? :-))Also, catching up on comments a bit. Sunderland, that's a nifty idea on the handy-dandy portable disclaimer organizer. I may have to patent it. But I guess I'd have to share the patent with you. hmmm… BinM, but…but…they were beating the Mets at the time…and our place in the standings was at stake…well, okay…penalty box it is. (That's from the game where toothless players push that little round thingy back and forth on a skating rink, right?) sec3, I'd been thinking [RF] myself. Like, if he'd pinch run in the 9th and then scored the winning run, it would have been a Fick-in good victory. Wait, what???

  5. m20832 - Sep 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Third place this year! Going to have at least 80 wins! What an improvement!Thank you Lerner's and Rizzo for making it happen!Winning is so much FUN!!!

  6. NatsLady - Sep 27, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Florida baseball questions:1. Where are the Marlins finding the $$ to pay Ozzie? (Note to Sad Man, if you want to quit your job, best to have another one in hand.)2. 18K in the stands to watch the Rays duke it out with the Yanks and a PLAYOFF spot up for grabs? Nats are now twenty, can we say TWENTY, wins ahead of 2009 (59-103).Also, as was pointed out in another blog, Davey done good sending the runner so RZ didn't GIDP or Morse wouldn't have had the chance for his THIRTIETH…

  7. Richard - Sep 27, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    What fun this team has been to watch and root for of late! I was at the game Sunday. The positive feeling, the hometown passion, the Nats play, made it a day that'll be hard to top. And congrats to the Beast for reaching 30 HRs — and with two outs in the ninth, to win it. He's hit two pitching mistakes out of the park in two days with the pressure on. Wow. And on Sunday he hit an O-2 pitch for his 29th. Very wow. And congrats to Wilson Ramos for hitting .293 post-All Star, and Ian Desmond for finishing as a legit leadoff guy, batting .286 post-All Star. Anyway, I have to worry about something re the Nats, so I'm worried about Mike Rizzo's comment that the Nats need another starting pitcher and an outfield bat. They'll have at least 7 guys competing for 5 SP slots next spring, if they sign Wang and don't sign Gorzelany. Why do they need to take the risk and spend millions on the very iffy chance that a FA can be a #2 SP?. And re an outfield bat, and they could re-sign Rick Ankiel and Johnny Gomes who reportedly want to come back. Maybe Nix and Bernadina do, too. The difference between .240 and .280 is 20 hits in 500 ABs. And Ankiel brings awesome defense. And the another guys contribute in other ways. And the Nats track record with FA signings is, er, not so much. And they've got good chemistry going on the team now, which I value highly for a winning team. So why not essentially stand pat? Make some minor additions and subtractions at the margins? Anyway, can't argue too much with much of what Rizzo and company have done to get the Nats on this very positive roll that I'm enjoying so much.

  8. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Baseball-but-not-Nats-related item: Just noticed that ESPN is airing the film Catching Hell this month. The film explores fans' need to place blame after difficult losses, with nods to the Bartman/Cubs incident and Buckner's through-the-wickets moment. According to the FIOS schedule, it airs tonight at 8; Thursday at 11 PM; Friday at 10 PM; Saturday at 12 AM, 8 PM, and 10 PM; next Tuesday at 8 PM; and next Wednesdy at 10:30 PM.

  9. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Woe is me. I meant to type "Wednesday" there. Thanks for having my back, web browser – not! ;-)

  10. UNTERP.NAT - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I guess I can toot my own horn since I had them winning 79 games this season. Thought they might come up one game short given the 161 game season, but they did it with room to spare. I thought the Nationals had a shot at 79 wins given what I saw during spring training, not that spring training is a good barometer of a regular season. The starting pitching was outstanding during the spring training games and has been outstanding all the regular season. The positive bump teams get when a new manager takes over mid season sometimes didn't happen for the Nationals until really September. I think Davey Johnson is a good fit for this team moving forward, especially on the young guys, Desmond, Ramos, and Espi. But his influence seems to have extended to Werth and the pitching as well, specifically HRod.Preliminarily I had the Nationals winning 87 games next season. Given what I've seen recently particularly with the pitching, I will bump that total to 90 wins in 2012. Will that get them the Wild Card? Perhaps. At worse, they'll be in a Wild Card chase.Bravo to the Nationals. And Bravo to Mark Zuckerman and all the posters here. Great season…

  11. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Richard…. in all professional sports…. standing pat equals going backwards.The Nats need to be in the mix for CJ Wilson or CC Sabathia and unless someone can get Desmond and Espinosa to make more contact (although Ian HAS improved quite a bit since late July) they definitely need a good contact, OBP guy to man one outfield spot.The fact that the system now provides quality pitchers and is on the verge of producing quality bats, doesn't mean you sit on your hands when you have the resources to do otherwise.And anybody that doesn't expect this team to have playoff aspirations and I mean REAL playoff aspirations next Spring Training camp, well …they can just go follow the Orioles.

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 27, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    natsfan1a said…Baseball-but-not-Nats-related item: Just noticed that ESPN is airing the film Catching Hell this month. 1a, I asked CSBCFW (Currently Strawberry Blonde Cubs Fan Wife) about seeing that at the AFI. She's still not ready. Too soon. Shirley Povich said "September lies." But October will look you right in the eye and leave with the one you came in with."lamenco" — a very sad Spanish dance.

  13. Steve M. - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    NatsLady, here's what is also impressive is 15% improvement year over year which would put the Nats on a 90+ win pace if they sustain that improvement for 2012. That's a big jump, but certainly achievable as they have now gone from 59 to 69 to 79+ wins in consecutive years.I think the teams like the Nats and the Rays that have built predominantly from the Draft and key trades, stay younger and keep a core together longer utilizing that crucial 6 years of team control. It took the Rays 10 years to make the Post-Season and it may take the Nats a couple of years less. The good news is I believe ownership/Rizzo understand what they need to add to make this team a contender which is team balance between all facets of the game: Pitching, Offense, Defense, Bullpen, Bench, BaserunningAs Rizzo said, 1 more starting pitcher, 1 more outfielder. Given the 3 guaranteed sellouts next year from the Yankees games and increased season ticket sales, the Nats should get to at least 200,000 more tickets sold next year, hopefully more. Would that get ownership willing to dip large again into Free Agency and pursue CJ Wilson or do you wait until 2012 and spend all of your cash on a Matt Kemp in Free Agency? The Nats aren't the Yankees so we can dream but reality tells us they won't get a big Free Agent every year.

  14. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Navy Nats Fan said… I'm on travel and the only games the hotel gets are Yankees-Rays and Red Sox-Orioles. I'm not sure what this is, but it ain't baseball… As Reggie Smith, during his stint with the Yomiuri Giants, said "This isn't baseball. It just looks like it."

  15. SCNatsFan - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    NatsJack I agree about CC and CW, but 31 other teams feel the same way and there will only be two 'winners', realistically 1 as CC will return to the Bronx. Would be nice to be in the mix but can't consider the offseason a bust if we don't get one of them. Personally if we get a name starter new to us I think it will be via a trade.

  16. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Steve M. said…NatsLady, here's what is also impressive is 15% improvement year over year which would put the Nats on a 90+ win pace if they sustain that improvement for 2012.And the Padres, with only a 5% improvement, would have won 95 games this year. Didn't happen. That last 15% is much harder than the first 15%. Not that they won't or can't win 90+ next year, just that it doesn't work that way. Which I know you know, but I think gets overlooked sometimes. Best to defer the poultry inventory.

  17. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    SCNatsFan…. that's what I meant when I said "you don't sit on your hands when you have the resources to do otherwise."The Lerner's money is one thing, but the system loaded with arms and catchers and first basemen is another.

  18. N. Cognito - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    natsfan1a said… "Baseball-but-not-Nats-related item: Just noticed that ESPN is airing the film Catching Hell this month. The film explores fans' need to place blame after difficult losses"Don't need to watch — I am aware of the phenomena — it's on display on this board quite often.

  19. Steve M. - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Richard, no way do you stand pat on the pitchers the Nats have. Heck, I was talking pla…pla…playoffs for 2012 a month ago before this final run because guess what, 9th best pitching staff in the Majors and the starters are actually better than 9th best. The Nats need to shoot for top 7 next season and get the offense up to 15th in the league.Can they get CC Sabathia? Probably not. Can they get CJ Wilson, yes. All they have to do is outbid everyone again. Will they do that? I don't know. Fallback in my mind is Wandy Rodriguez only if you can get him for very little in trade and suck up his salary. Fallback from there is Mark Buehrle who is a Free Agent.I detailed the Free Agent market in outfielders and it is bad. Coco Crisp, Cuddyer and Kubel look like the Top 3 and there is the top Runs Created guy in Josh Willingham. None of those names are top defenders none of them are Iron Men who reallisticly give you 150 games a year. All of them are +WAR guys and none will come real cheap except Crisp. Crisp would make the best stopgap guy given his age he would probably take 2 years $11 mill total. Someone mentioned Reed Johnson who is almost a bench player more than a starter but we all know from the Cubs series how he killed the Nats. He put up BIG numbers this year with an BA and OBP over .300+Trading for an outfielder unless it is a long-term piece doesn't make a lot of sense when you have Kemp, Bourn and BJ Upton all available as Free Agents after next season plus the Nats expect to have Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon ready by the start of 2013.

  20. Steve M. - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said… Steve M…And the Padres, with only a 5% improvement, would have won 95 games this year. Didn't happen. That last 15% is much harder than the first 15%. Not that they won't or can't win 90+ next year, just that it doesn't work that way. Which I know you know, but I think gets overlooked sometimes. Best to defer the poultry inventory. September 27, 2011 10:20 AM Absolutely, if they stand firm on what they have they will only move up marginally and that won't get them there. I think I detailed how the Nats need to move up to the next level.To your point on the Padres, they traded away their best player in Adrian Gonzalez so why are you surprised? They did nothing to improve their team and clearly weakened it. The Padres run support dropped by almost a 1/2 run per game while their pitching staff gave up about .15 more a game.

  21. Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Someone mentioned the JayB, that, mostly natering nabob of negativity. He (she?) and someothers have not been heard from in some time ovr at Nationals Journal.Anyway, I picked 79 wins out of ST and stuck with it through thick (koolade period of late June through Riggleman act- +3 or 4 over .500) and thin (end of Houston series- -10 under ,500). To do better next year, need to improve team RISP BA. That I think mean one more quality Bat. Another SP? Not so much.

  22. Slidell - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    78 was my early prognostication and I admittedly wavered on it during the high and low times.Biggest need for next year is better situational and pinch-hitting. Can't rely on one or two guys to bail you out in the 9th.My captcha was "phogy"! I hope I'm not.

  23. NatsLady - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. NatsLady - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    I like having a September team. Take careful note of the Braves and RSawks. You can never have enough pitching and you can never be too careful with their arms. They say: You win 50, you lose 50, it's how you play for the other 62 (ok, 61) that counts. Davey is growing on me. When he figures a game is lost, he doesn't throw all his resources on recovering it. He seems to decide pretty early on, down 2 or more runs. That may be frustrating to fans who want to go all out every game, but tomorrow is another day. Will be interesting to see how it goes early in the year when we play bad teams and seemingly "unimportant games." A win in April counts the same as a win in August. So we should feast on the bad teams, not relax.

  25. Steve M. - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Steve M. said… Very enjoyable watching the "new look" Nats. So many positives to pull from the game.Batters worked a lot of full counts and showed good plate discipline. LaRoche was a pleasure to watch with the glove as was Werth. Great hustle all around. Pitching was superb as Livan dazzled in the '80s and Clippard, Coffey and Burnett all did their jobs.Clutch hitting with men in scoring position was lacking hence missing the opportunities, but in a well played game, 1 team will win and 1 team will lose. I saw the Dodgers/Giants game last night and it had the same feel in a 2-1 pitchers duel.This should give us all increased optimism for the next 161 games. April 1, 2011 10:52 AM I was actually looking for my estimate of wins and came across my post above. I was back and forth between 74 to 78 wins so the team certainly exceeded my expectations.I made this post after the Nats lost the opener way back on March 31st. Kind of those same observations carried through the entire year including (unfortunately) the lack of clutch hitting with RISP.- Hustle, defense, working the counts- I called it superb pitching and I think if you finish in Top 9 of all MLB teams, that is pretty darn good.Thinking of Werth, the presence in brings to the lineup where he works the counts and adds to the pitchers pitch counts really doesn't give him due credit. On most teams, when you get into the bullpen early, you usually win those games. Just wanted to make that point on the BULL MOOSE.

  26. jd - Sep 27, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    NatsLady, The Sawks would take ANY pitching. They have been just dreadful. When they lost Buckholtz and DiceK their other pitchers (Lackey and Bedard) really go exposed not to mention the damage their incompetence inflicted on their pen. I count 7 competent starters on our team right now without any moves who are all better than anyone on the Sox not named Becket or Lester and there are a minimum of 3 more real prospects in the pipeline.

  27. natsfan1a - Sep 27, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    sec3 re. the flick, yeah, I suspect that my Chicago baseball buddy may feel the same way. (I didn't send her the info so I'm not sure. :-)) And NCog, on the same topic, indeed.

  28. Steve Goodman - Sep 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Indeed.Shirley Povich said "September lies." But October will look you right in the eye and leave with the one you came in with.

  29. UNTERP.NAT - Sep 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Picking the Nationals to win 90 games next season is hopeful optimism. I'm picking them to win 90 based on nothing but hope, not knowing how other teams might improved, but with the idea that Rizzo will get another bat (whether lead off or power), and perhaps a starting pitcher. This and good health, I see 90 wins in the future, but injuries can derail many best laid plans gone to waste…

  30. N. Cognito - Sep 27, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Way too early for predictions of next year. Too many unknowns.




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