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Instant analysis: D’backs 5, Nats 1

May 2, 2012, 1:44 AM EDT


US Presswire photo
Jordan Zimmermann gave up a season-high three earned runs.

Game in a nutshell: Bryce Harper's home debut neither brought out the fans (official paid attendance was a disappointing 22,675) nor brought the Nationals' lineup out of his ever-growing funk. Shut out by Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill until the eighth inning, the Nats continued their recent run of tepid performances at the plate. Harper did hit the ball hard twice but was victimized by some well-positioned Arizona infielders and wound up 0-for-3. He also fired a perfect, 300-foot strike to the plate but just narrowly missed nailing John McDonald. Losers of five straight now, the Nationals are now 14-9.

Hitting lowlight: Pretty much everyone in the lineup qualifies for this. The Nationals are doing nothing at the plate these days. Zilch. Zero. Nada. The worst moment of the night, though, came in the bottom of the sixth. With a potential rally actually in the works after Ian Desmond and Steve Lombardozzi singled, Rick Ankiel (plugged into the No. 3Read more »

  1. terpman33 - May 2, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    Now, it's time to panic. I've maintained that it is essential not to lose 4 games in a row or more. We officially have an anemic offense. I dont even think Ryan Zimmerman coming back will help that much. It's time to jettison DeRosa, and most definitely Nady. In addition, Espinoza is in a major slump, and we may have to instruct him to start bunting for base hits. I hope people don't think Im jumping off the ship, cause Im not. But we must do something NOW, before it's too late!

  2. peric - May 2, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    Poor Mikey Morse. Everyone is going to expect him to turn around the offense. Which won't happen … from before ST one could see this team would not be good offensively …. but that the pitching had the potential to be really good to something special.Nothing about that has changed … I was hoping we might see the harbinger of change in September with call ups like Rendon and Moore …

  3. Brandon Beylo - May 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    Every team goes through funks like this during a 162 game season… Let me say that again, 162 games! Yes losing 5 in a row sucks, but injuries play a significant role in this streak. Other teams will lose players as well and fall into their own slumps at their given times. All the Nationals have to worry about is staying in either 1st or 2nd in the NL East. With the Braves losing tonight as well the Nats are catching a serious break that they have to take advantage of.This pitching staff has kept them in it till the 7th inning almost every game. If the Nats can score 1 or 2 runs in the early innings, with this pitching, the game is well in our hands. I am confident in this teams ability this season, even though right now things don't look as good. Go Nats! Cannot bail on them now!washingtonsportsdaily.blogspot.com

  4. peric - May 2, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. peric - May 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    In addition, Espinoza is in a major slump, and we may have to instruct him to start bunting for base hits. His name is Espinosa NOT Espinoza. If you have been watching him long enough to have such a strong opinion you would know that now wouldn't you?NO everything is as many of us expected. Lower than average offense. Good pitching (the special pitching we are seeing is a bonus!) and defense. That is this year's Nationals. Until they develop the minor league talent. You're just going to have to LEARN to be patient with player development? Before they didn't have squat. Even with Dunn and Willingham. Last place or close to last? And they were still close to the bottom in hitting based on advanced stats.What's new and different? THIS TEAM HAS A VERY HIGH CEILING. Bigger than the super MOON out tonight! HUGE represented by players like Strasburg, Harper and Rendon and there are not just a few others?They HAVE IMPROVED dramatically. The pitching and defense have improved at the very least significantly. Hitting takes longer. Sorry but that's baseball kids

  6. John - May 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    It's becoming evident that we have too many free swingers in our lineup and when they're collectively struggling and stringing together hits, the team should try to find ways to manufacture runs. While we would never expect a Ryan Zimmerman to bunt in the 3-hole, it is hard to reason why Johnson elected to let Ankiel hit away tonight with they tying run on base and no outs. Maybe he should consider a different approach with a weakened roster.

  7. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 2, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    Lower than average offense? Woww talk about generous. I would give the offense an F. Lower than average is a C- and they are no where near there.Staring pitchers an ARelievers a B.Probalem here is that as good as our starting pitchers are the other teams starting pitchers these five games have been better. You don't win games if your not scoring runs. However you do not lose any either if you give up none. Our pitchers have to be more perfect to overcome this weak offense. A fresh new approacch is needed. I never see Eck talk to a single player so my guess is there is no during game adjustments with him. Maybe that is how all hitting coaches are, but I know it isn't working.

  8. MikeinDC - May 2, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Boy, I hope the sentiments on the board aren't inside the clubhouse. Not time to panic, not time to snipe or back bite. This team got to 14-4 by trusting each other, rising to the challenge and being creative in how to win. And that's exactly how they break this little slump. There's still a long, long way to go.

  9. NatsLady - May 2, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    :Mike, Scott here.:Hi, Scott, what can I do for ya?:Mike, You know that "development plan" you keep mentioning for Bryce?:Yes?:Bryce wants to go back to Syracuse where they know how to score (20 runs in the last two games). He feels he could really learn something from the hitters they have there.

  10. NatsFanJim - May 2, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    When Zim is back, we are better.When Morse is back, it gets even better.Flores hits better than butterfingered RamosEspinosa simply can't hit with that huge loopy swing. — (too dumb to correct it?)Harper is fine.Nady's — time to retire again.Ankiel: time to return to the bench — or worse.Desi is fine — although is fielding or lack thereof, set up Diamondbacks first two or three runs.Werth – .260 we'll take it at this point.LaRoche – doing well, but will float back down to .265 soon.Tyler Moore: Play him — I like him.Davey Johnson – a keeper only when he learns or has the guts to stop managing PC style. Davey manages like a block headed American league manager. Davey's great for morale, but a pretty mediocre (or even lousy) field manager.

  11. ehay2k - May 2, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    I was at the game. My instant analysis:The hitting was so anemic, everyone in attendance now needs an iron supplement! We make every pitcher look like a Cy Young candidate. I really felt the Nats were flat. Throwing error from Desi, inability to stop steals, just bad baseball. Even some throws from the outfield were cut off poorly or not at all, like no one knew where to be or what to do. Harper's throw home looked good but I haven't read game notes to see if the ump blew the call.Ramos appears to need a break. Same for Espi, who swung at yet another high fastball, and also tried to bunt for a hit but bit wasn't even close. When Zimm comes back, stick Lombo at second and give Espi a few days off. Overall, it seems like the team is panicking at the plate. They must know that they really need to start hitting or we will just be wasting some serious pitching. Jordan Z looked OK tonight, but that would have been a pretty good outing for our starters last year or the year before.

  12. ehay2k - May 2, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    And, we can fire the hitting coach anytime and I won't mind. Simply cannot get any worse.

  13. NatsLady - May 2, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    Davey, tomorrow give LaRoche a day off and play Tyler Moore at first base, his natural position.

  14. Fear and Ignorance - May 2, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    MikeinDC-They got to 14-4 because they played the worst 4 teams in the NL and the Mets who we all know will be by the end of the year. They have to HOPE to be .500 by June and then get to play the Braves and the AL East for 18 games. This team is fading fast and I just don't see any offense on the horizon. Hope I am wrong.

  15. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Just got home. A tough one to watch. The Nats got back into the game when they were behind 2-0 when Desi led off with the single followed by Lombo's single. My thought is with LaRoche on deck and Werth in the hole, why wasn't Ankiel bunting? Is that small ball? This team needs runs. We all figured Ankiel would strike out—but it was worse. Hit into the double play. End of the brief momentum.

  16. John C. - May 2, 2012 at 3:20 AM

    FWIW Ankiel wasn't bunting because bunting there is a dumb play. "But he hit into a double play!" you say? Just remember, he could just as easily hit into a double play bunting as swinging away.

  17. JayB - May 2, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    Back from the game……I might have mentioned once or twice that Rizzo did not do what he needed to do over the off season. This team needed bats to go with the pitching. They needed offense in CF and the Bench……this is looking like a huge waste of great pitching just to save some cash.

  18. Section 222 - May 2, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Assuming Moore and Harper play tomorrow, I think I'd rather see LaRoche in the lineup than Ankiel or Nady against a tough lefty. So I hope Moore plays LF. We could be in for another difficult night though. Saunders has been pitching really well this year. Such a shame we didn't get the call on Harper's throw. But the word is going to get around and soon the runners will retreat to third like they do against Ankiel. Between the two of them that could save quite a few runs this year.

  19. whatsanattau - May 2, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Went to the game. Saw some strong throws from the outfield. Pretty disappointing offensive production.. Zimmermann should sue for nonsupport. Werth looked good. Hard to think about sending Harper down when he plays so hard. Espinosa is really, really struggling. Not every pitcher they face can be Cy Young. This is mostly bad hitting. Patience at the plate worked until scouts figured out they aren't hitting. Now teams are just throwing strikes.

  20. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    John C. said… FWIW Ankiel wasn't bunting because bunting there is a dumb play. "But he hit into a double play!" you say? Just remember, he could just as easily hit into a double play bunting as swinging away. May 01, 2012 11:20 PM ____________________________The 3rd baseman was playing him for a bunt. We all thought bunt and he swung and missed on the 1st pitch. Yep, he was going for the fences. Not sure whose approach was worse tonight, Ankiel or Espinosa or Ramos or the pitcher.

  21. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 2, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    What is the deal with Ramos and stealing. He has thrown out 1 out of 15 now.

  22. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 2, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    I hate to be negative nanny, but Saunders pitches like Sandy Koufax against us. He was 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA last year vs. Nats. If EJax doesn't toss a shutout, I see the losing streak at six.

  23. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 2, 2012 at 4:25 AM

    And it could be worse. We could still have this pinhead in CF: Nyjer Morgan's splits: .179/.220-/.179. I'm glad we flushed Tony Plush when we did even if all we got was Nails' kid.

  24. Don - May 2, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I was at the game yesterday, both teams were just dead and there was no energy in the stadium. Even after the final out the DBacks kind of meandered out onto the field. It was a very odd feeling and not what I expected, especially with Harper's first at home game.Over the last few games it feels like the team is pressing. Too many early count hits running into outs at first. Maybe that is the game plan based on the pitcher, I don't know. It seems like, if you are a team that can't hit you want to get as deep into the pitcher as possible to tire him out, not go up swinging at the first pitch.Ahh well, there is another game tonight – GO NATS!!

  25. Don - May 2, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I was at the game yesterday, both teams were just dead and there was no energy in the stadium. Even after the final out the DBacks kind of meandered out onto the field. It was a very odd feeling and not what I expected, especially with Harper's first at home game.Over the last few games it feels like the team is pressing. Too many early count hits running into outs at first. Maybe that is the game plan based on the pitcher, I don't know. It seems like, if you are a team that can't hit you want to get as deep into the pitcher as possible to tire him out, not go up swinging at the first pitch.Ahh well, there is another game tonight – GO NATS!!

  26. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    What is the deal with Ramos and stealing. He has thrown out 1 out of 15 now.My guess is, they miss Coach Pudge.

  27. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I like small ball as much as the next guy, but Ankiel, a guy with power, bunting there, is a [sub-optimal] idea. The guy has significant power, and gets hot in streaks. He gets hold of a mistake and you have the lead. And who's he moving them up for? Nobody else is hitting.Play for one run, and that's what you get: one run.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 75 57 --
ATLANTA 70 64 6.0
MIAMI 65 67 10.0
NEW YORK 62 72 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 61 72 14.5
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FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
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