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Still searching for some early offense

Apr 8, 2012, 11:20 PM EST

Associated Press photo
Danny Espinosa and the Nats have scored just three runs in innings 1-7 this season.

CHICAGO — The Nationals don't seem to have any trouble putting runs on the board late. But early in games? Well, that's an entirely different story.

So in the wake of a frustrating, 4-3 loss to the Cubs this afternoon — one that saw Jeff Samardzija shove it down the Nationals' throats until Adam LaRoche's two-run homer with two outs in the ninth — is there anything that can be done to try to generate some offense before, you know, they sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame?"

"Some homers would be nice," Ian Desmond cracked before turning serious. "I mean, it's the third game. We all had great springs."

Success in March, however, doesn't always translate to success in April. And right now, anybody in the Nationals' lineup not named Desmond (5-for-13) or LaRoche (5-for-12, two homers) is finding that out theRead more ยป

  1. baseballswami - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Did anyone see it coming that Desi, ALR and Chad Tracy are carrying the entire offense? And say what you will about Zim being robbed by the wind – perhaps he should have adjusted and stop trying to hit it out against the wind. On Thursday, it just seemed like he was determined to beat the wind. Seems like he should be a good enough hitter to adjust and try to sneak through a 25 hopper or something.

  2. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    Morse should be back soon … and then opposing pitchers will have more to think about after Zimmeman.The injury to Rendon feels crippling … his start in Potomac already featured an unreal OBP and wOBA. Gets to Harrisburg for the 2nd half … September call-up. There's your #2 hitter. Of course Nick "the stick" Johnson was a primo #2 hitter … when he could stay healthy … have to wonder if Anthony Rendon doesn't similarly end up at first base batting second given both ankles? That would be a real shame for a prospect with gold glove potential.

  3. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    I think we also have to be concerned about Werth. Yeah, I heard all the "it's early" stuff, but Werth has yet to get a hit. I thought he was turning things over from last year? Well, at the plate, he looks like he is picking up from where he left off last year, no hits and already FIVE strikeouts.

  4. oldguyjim see you Thurs - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    1. Get Morse back ASAP. 2. Drop Werth to the 7 or 8 slot.3. Get Flores into the game, catch 1 of 3 and PH.4. Tell Zim to think March!

  5. Rabbit - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    WHY DOES JASON WERTH EVEN HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY?!!!!! He should just keep his mouth shut until next year or when he does something constructive, WHICH EVER COMES FIRST! Don't bet on the constructive aspect. Werth shouldn't be dropped to the bottom of the lineup. He should be dropped to Haggerstown.

  6. ehay2k - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Still early, and we have a winning record without one of our best hitters. We do seem to make mediocre pitchers look like All Stars, but hitters tend to find their groove later than pitchers. As long as we end April with a winning record, I'll be happy.

  7. ehay2k - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Still early, and we have a winning record without one of our best hitters. We do seem to make mediocre pitchers look like All Stars, but hitters tend to find their groove later than pitchers. As long as we end April with a winning record, I'll be happy.

  8. sm13 - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    With my rose colored glasses on I see that the Nats took 2 out of 3 in a series. If they do that consistently, we'll be talking playoffs. When Morse comes back the lineup will be ratcheted up a notch. Also, two big questions about hitters look like they may have been answered in our favor — Ian is off to a fast start and looking like a real leadoff hitter and LaRoche's shoulder seems to be fully healed and he's re-discovered his power stroke. I'm not worried about Zim – he's a proven .300 hitter. Werth does look lost again at the plate – too much like last year, less like Spring Training.

  9. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    Im starting to wonder about that Werth contract!

  10. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Werth didn't look lost today. He got robbed of two hits and took a walk. He'll get there. Watching ChiSox vs. Rangers. Dunn just went down swinging, missed by a mile.

  11. JaneB - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    Swami said:baseballswami said…Did anyone see it coming that Desi, ALR and Chad Tracy are carrying the entire offense?Not the last two. But Desi? I say yes, yes I did/do. But More is coming back, and that will help RZimm AND Werth, and all the pitchers.

  12. sm13 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    OK Natslady, I'll try to see the Werth glass as half full.

  13. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    Folks, I think this season falls into the category of "it is what it is." This is not the 1927 Yankees. This team is built on pitching and defense and trying to scratch a few runs together here and there. Mickey Morse will help. But anybody expecting this team to hit like, say, the Rangers is delusional.If we lose a few 2-1 games, let's not pack it in. We're going to be in a lot of nail-biters. That's why I've stocked up on the bourbon and Maalox. See everybody Thursday, and maybe we can be coming off a sweep of the Mets, who are bound to crash and burn shortly.

  14. oldguyjim see you Thurs - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    Lannan shelled in first Chief's game tonight.

  15. Tim - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    Wow, the way people talk, you would think this wasn't a 100 loss team just a few years ago.

  16. Anonymous - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    It's so ridiculous how carp mocks the soriano contract every time we play the cubs. You think the nats wouldn't be ecstatic if werth put up anything close to his numbers…

  17. sjm308 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    If we win every series the entire season it will be roses!! I realize we have not hit and I realize Werth is struggling but we are 2-1, on the road and if we come home 4-2 you can't ask for any more.Rabbit, take a deep breath. Werth has 6 more years, he is not going anywhere. He will be a big piece of our team and has already changed the culture of this team in the clubhouse. Stop hating and start rooting. He is a pro, his dad was a pro, his uncle and grandfather were pros. He is not playing well right now but he has won a World Series and knows what it takes to win so just relax and let things play out. By the way, if someone at your job offered you a salary that was way beyond what you were making, would you turn it down?? I think not.

  18. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Ooooh, that's not good for his trade value. It's one thing to be "stashed" in AAA. It's another thing to get shelled there. Guess I'll take a look at the archive on see you Thurs said…Lannan shelled in first Chief's game tonight.

  19. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Checking the box, looks like Lannan gave up 5 earned in 2 innings and was pulled. Brycie-boy went 0 for 4.Chiefs vs. Yankees

  20. Traveler8 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    I see that Maxwell was picked up by the Astros – wonder if we will see him next week. Apologies if this has already been discussed.

  21. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    When do we start interleague play? Morse hasn't played the field yet, he's still DH'ing. Senators vs. Baysox

  22. The Fox - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Not scoring and winning 2 out of 3 on the road not bad I say. How many teams are undefeated on the road so far this year? ZERO!Hey that kid Samardzija threw a hell of a game and we were in it to the end. The Nats did not lose that game they were beat. Overall I think the Nats looked better than I expected and no one got hurt.Both Desmond and Espinoza looked like they had an actual plan when they came to bat. If A.L. Hits career avg. numbers, Desmond gets on base like he did the last month of 2011 and Zimmerman stays health they will score more runs than they did last year. The pitching staff is better so they should win more games then last year. The games will sometimes be like torture like the S.F. Giants or winning ugly like they did the first half of 2005, but if the pitching hold up they will be in most games and that's all you can ask. So far so good.

  23. jeffwx - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Thanks for the updates down on the farm…Morse and Ankiel can't hurt…will take pressure off Zimm, Werth, … and the starting pitchers who have to be perfect to get a win.Good question of when Morse will be able to play outfield. First base aint open anymore.And think Harper will be looking Major league ready by June. Shoot, even Mantle needed time at Kansas City (when they were a minor league affiliate for the Yanks…He also hit a few 550+ shots while down there and in Spring training…Harper kind of reminds me of MM).Watching Great Expectations…a good analogy for the Nats.

  24. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Watching archive of Chiefs game, hard to see because the camera is in outerspace. The audio not synced with the video, so you see miniature players running around first, then you hear about it.Harper (RF) saved a run in the first inning with his arm, but then sent in a high throw on the next play, so an extra run scored (not an error). In the 2nd, after 2 outs, he gives up back-to-back walks, gives up two singles, and the bullpen is in motion. Gets the final out, but that's it. Announcers seemed to have a lot of sympathy for Lannan.

  25. jeffwx - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Fox rightly says this aint the 27 Yankeees….but they may come close to the 98 yanks if we have Harper, Rendon, Zimmerman, Morse, Ramos, Espinosa in the same lineup (also Desmond, Werth).

  26. BigRizza - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    For this talk of how improved the Nats are, how many games their going to win, if they'll make the playoffs and how far they will go. I'd just like to see them make more contact, not get hits mind you. Just make friggin' contact.

  27. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    jeffwx–yes, that is my worry on Morse. Is he going to come up and just pinch hit? Or can he play the field? I'm not exactly understanding what the plan is because you would think if he is coming back this week he would be getting some outfield reps. Ankiel doesn't need practice fielding.

  28. Big Cat - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    I'm a Werth fan. I don't care about his contract. I was glad when we signed him. He is a pro, he comes to play everyday etc. But…..we just gotta get something more than .230 58 ribbies and 160K's from him. I wouldn't be worried if he was having good AB's, but he just seems to have no idea at the plate…..again this year. You hear the talk that he's changed, he put on 15 lbs of muscle, fixed his swing etc. Well Jason is 33 now in a post steroid era. I saw him bat twice today. One a horrid k….chasing a slider a foot outside and the other time he got sawed off really bad. That must of been one of NatLady's "got robbed" Anyhow, we desperately need Jason to step up and give us something….anything. Hell, I'll take .250 with 25 hr's and 75 ribbies. And as I said earlier, I wish he would get his eyes checked

  29. Section 222 - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Watch out Big Cat. Soon you'll be called a Werth hater for just recognizing his shortcomings, and stating the obvious that he needs to be a lot better. He didn't have a banner series in the field either I might mention. But just as I'm not convinced that Desmond has turned the corner after one series, I'm not going to conclude that Werth is doomed to repeat his terrible 2011. I'm just glad we're playing regular season baseball finally, and we'll find out soon what this team is made of.

  30. A DC Wonk - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Fun with stats . . . while we're looking at the anemic hitting, let's not miss that the team ERA is fifth in the league — and that the Nats are the only team in all of MLB not to give up a HR.

  31. Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    the Nats are the only team in all of MLB not to give up a HR. Wonk, great point, and way cool. GYFNBPG!

  32. Section 222 - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:03 AM

    Poor Cubbies. Imagine being the only team in MLB after 3 games not to have hit a homer. The shame! Perhaps the only worse thing would be to be one of the five guys other than Wood and Marmol in their bullpen, wondering if your manager will ever have confidence enough in you to bring you in in a close game….

  33. Whatsanattau - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    EJax goes against Pelfrey tomorrow night. Maybe the offense will have more luck in NYC. It would be nice to get Morse back for Thursday. Also wondering when Lombo and Jesus get their first starts. I read the criticism of Werth and understand the disappointment but not the venom. I do think he will come round, but think he needs a good bat behind him. They might have to move him to the 2 hole to get him started then move him back if appropriate. Pitchers don't want to throw strikes to him. But if he's on for Zimm they might pitch him in the zone more often.

  34. Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    222, you miss the point. Giving up a home run sucks. That's the point. Don't over-complicate this.

  35. Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    Or is my snarkdar malfunctioning?

  36. A DC Wonk - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    snarkdar…nice!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  37. Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    An old usage, Wonk. If I had to guess, I would attribute it to Halfstreet.

  38. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 6:27 AM

    Found this in a "straight" news story about Ozzie. Guess the reporter couldn't resist.Guillen sounded genuinely contrite about the Castro comments and said he's finished with addressing political topics, although that still leaves a wealth of subjects in which he can embarrass the Marlins.

  39. Rabbit - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    sjm308…..That's the problem with Werth. He will be here for six more years and isn't going anywhere. But, this is his second year with us and he is picking up just where he left off from his first, whole, miserable year. He has shown nothing and, yes, he is with us for six more years. Yes,he is a big piece of our team. There are only 9 starters in a game. That also makes him a big headache; a big rally-killer. HE needs to catch HIS breath. Let him do it in Haggerstown. Whew! GO NATIONALS!!!!

  40. JaneB - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    I'm so dopey I thought he was talking about STARLIN Castro, not Castro Castro. Now it makes sense. Sheesh.

  41. Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Since our discussion of Davey's pirate ship here is getting so many silly comments, let's start the week with something upbeat.

  42. Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    "He's so un-hep, when you say Castro,He thinks yer talkin about FIDEL Castro (whoever HE wuz!)Tha man ain't got no Culcha!But it's alright, ma…"

  43. MicheleS - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Not a Werth Apologist here, but I am rooting, I have the jersey. BUT, I do agree that he needs to come in somwhere around career norms. I think they should drop him down to the 6 hole when Morse comes back.I think part of the problem last year was the injuries during the 1st half of the season. He probably felt the burden of the contract, the fact that he was playing with a bunch of rookies/2nd year players/bench guys and lord knows what was going on in that clubhouse. So I am willing to chuck last year in the bin and forget it. We still won 80 games

  44. MicheleS - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Mark Z.. hopefully you are reading this.. Can you give us an update on how Citi field looks with the Fences in this year? Maybe that will help our offense!

  45. Anonymous - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Jesus should get a start per series, with no PH opportunities Davey needs to keep him sharp with regular starts. Wilson didn't exactly have a great series, I'm disappointed he didn't get the start yesterday. I realize it's only the opening series, but it's THE opening series and Davey should have gotten him some playing time… must be frustrating for him.–Jim

  46. Theophilus - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Flores and his fans need to be content w/ catching third games in back-to-back-backs, day games after night games, and makeup doubleheaders. Ramos is the better catcher; to be a .275, 25HR, 75RBI guy, he needs to be in the day-to-day lineup to stay in the batting, handling-pitchers groove. Hope he starts 130 games.

  47. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Nats don't have a scheduled off-day until April 23. No rain in sight (approaching drought status). You'll see Flores.

  48. The Great Unwashed - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    It doesn't look to me like Werth has changed his swing. He still has that same twist himself down onto one knee uppercut swing that causes him to swing and miss badly or it leads to popups. He'll get enough at bats to hit 20 HR or so, but another player with a lesser contract would be riding the bench. I get the sense his plan at the plate is to draw walks, not get hits, which is exactly why he should hit lower in the order. Having said that, the Nats are winning despite him. Can't complain about that.

  49. baseballswami - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Positive things I have seen — Desi and Danny DO look like they have a plan at the plate.Danny has been a tough out. Jayson Werth, HAS been walked at really critical times when he could have struck out swinging at those pitches. 2 of our first three pitchers had stellar starts ( but neither one of them got a win, one actually got a loss). We have hits off the bench, our bullpen has looked pretty good, and we are still without Morse for line-up protection. Let's see how that new outfield configuration looks in ny — I have to admit that EJAX causes me the most consternation of all our pitchers. I am fully expecting that Detweiler will not get deep into his game since he is not stretched out yet, but hoping that Stammen will step in and fill those innings.

  50. NatsBrat - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    I'm a little disappointed that JFlo didn't get a start too! He had a better ST than Ramo, and deserves to be kept fresh.Strange, Davey's treatment of him, as it was Davey who originally scouted him for the Nats' Rule 5 Draft, on Gary Carter's recs.

  51. NatsLady - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    TV report: Watching in SD makes everyone look like they have makeup on. Other than that, picture is pretty good. Can go back into the archives and re-watch on HD if I want to. Still no live or archive full games on Android tablets, but I'll be able to peek into the game tonight if students are absent. So far, so good.

  52. natsfan1a - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Re. having a plan at the plate, I (idly) wonder whether chats with DeRosa may have had any effect.

  53. fast eddie - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Hey, a 2-1 record projects to 108 wins over the entire season. That means we just won the NL East!

  54. Anonymous - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Yeah, but here's a question. Lets say Werth didn't have the albatross contract. Do you want him or Harper in right?If you are Davey, how long do you go with Werth before you call him a bust and just pay him off? Sooner or later you gotta cut bait. And this is only his second year of THE CONTRACT.

  55. Traveler8 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    @fast eddie,You've got it right – we need to focus on winning each series, not sweeping series.

  56. The Great Unwashed - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Swami, good point about Werth drawing walks at critical times, but it doesn't take away from the drag he is on the line up. I know it's only been three games, but Werth 2.0 looks a lot like Werth 1.0. Just sayin'. This whole Werth has a new swing is hype. Look, if he worked on a new approach at the plate in spring training, let's see it in games!

  57. Bowdenball - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    After four games last season, Albert Pujols was 2-16 with one walk.Just keep repeating "small sample size" and "long way to go" and we'll be just fine.

  58. The Great Unwashed - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Anon 9:01, Harper's in the minors where he belongs until he's ready to come up to the bigs. As far as the current roster is concerned, you could make the argument that Bernadina would have the same level of success as Werth if he had the same amount of at bats, but Bernie will never get that chance because of Werth's contract. They have to play Werth no matter what. I'm not trying to be negative; i'm just stating fact.

  59. Anonymous - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    OK, look at that pic of Espinosa that Zuckerman used for this post and tell me he does not look different, facially, than he did last year? The guy looks like he aged 10 years since September! He's thick as a stump from his cheeks — his face is bigger — neck and shoulders. I do not like what I am seeing.

  60. fast eddie - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    For all you sabremetrics types out there:So, what's our Magic Number? 159??

  61. SweetBlues - Apr 10, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Oh man.. that thought hadn't crossed my mind… Say it ain't so, Danny.

  62. i like here - Apr 19, 2012 at 5:15 PM

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