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Instant analysis: Nats 7, Pirates 4

May 17, 2012, 1:50 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Bryce Harper coasts into third base with his first career triple.

Game in a nutshell: Gio Gonzalez was lights-out for seven innings, striking out 10 to take over the MLB lead in that department. But the bigger story might have been the sudden outburst of power from the Nationals' often-lackluster lineup. Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady all homered, and LaRoche later added a clutch, three-run double to give the Nationals bullpen a nice cushion. Beleaguered closer Henry Rodriguez then finished it off in the ninth, earning his ninth save in 12 tries.

Hitting highlight: It seems like we write this every other night, but it bears repeating yet again: Where would the Nationals be right now without Adam LaRoche? The veteran first baseman delivered yet again, homering in the bottom of the sixth and then lacing a three-run double in the bottom of the seventh to break the game open. The 1,000th hit of LaRoche's career earned a standing ovation from the crowd of 25,942 and gave him 29 RBI for the season. That's tied with Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez for third in the National League.

Pitching highlight: The Nationals knew they were getting a good, young hurler in Gio Gonzalez, but not even GM Mike Rizzo could haveRead more »

  1. MicheleS - May 17, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!Yay Henry!

  2. hokiepokster92 - May 17, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    Yes. Well done, Henry!

  3. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    PFB, Henry! Atta boy, Adam! WTG, NATS!!Who told FP about the Kool-Aid? :-)

  4. MicheleS - May 17, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    1A.. see previous thread. Sent FP a tweet about Ripken and the koolaid

  5. NatsFanJim - May 17, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    You did it, henry Good Job! laRoche: Who'da thunk it you be a force this year.Geo is now leading Majors in K's. yeah, buddy.

  6. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    LOL at Morse!

  7. A DC Wonk - May 17, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Ha! The only qualifying shortstop in the National League with a higher slugging percentage than Ian Desmond's .447 mark is the Cardinals' Rafael Furcal.That cracks me up! How many folks here were so daggone absolutely sure that he'd never learn to hit? ("He's been a pro for six years, he's proved that he'll never get it" yadda yadda yadda).No, he's not the ideal leadoff man — but it's what we've got now, and at least he's in the top 7 in hits in the NL, and is second on the team in RBI's.Way to go, Ian.===========Tangent: cute story — for whatever reason, my 17 yo daughter, after being taken to enough games at Nats park (tangent: where things like the wave and the Presidents race, and all the things that us fans hate, helped keep her from getting bored), suddenly, about a week ago, became addicted to following the team. (She and I were 5 minutes late, somewhere tonight, because we both had to see Bryce bat one more time).Unfortunately, she'd never seen "good Henry" — and is convinced that's he's the worst pitcher in the world. So, it was good for her to finally see "good Henry."

  8. NatsFanJim - May 17, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Morse gives Nady the Shaving Cream pie while doing his MASN interview!! very funny

  9. NatsLady - May 17, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Gonat - May 17, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    MicheleS said… WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!Yay Henry! May 16, 2012 9:51 PM hokiepokster92 said… Yes. Well done, Henry! May 16, 2012 9:54 PM natsfan1a said… PFB, Henry! Atta boy, Adam! WTG, NATS!!Who told FP about the Kool-Aid? :-) May 16, 2012 9:56 PM ___________________________What are you drinking in your Maalox? Its so wierd that we are all excited about a closer with a 3 run lead getting a Save against 3 of the worst batters in the Majors. You have Barajas that you can't throw inside heat to, Barmes in a deep slump and Harrison who you have to get reaching.Their batting averages sit at .188 .155 .222 The Nats have pitchers with higher batting averages.

  11. ehay2k - May 17, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    Nice win. Everyone just looked sharper today than yesterday. Henry looked great. Once he found his breaking ball, it was over for the Pirates. I loved that FPsaid "If there was only a way to get Henry to face himself, he'd know how hard it is to hit 100Mph pitches."And as for the Kool Aid, you just know FP reads NI – all the cool people do. :-)

  12. ehay2k - May 17, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    Missed the info about the Kool Aid tweet. Nice work!But FP still reads NI. :-)

  13. Faraz Shaikh - May 17, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    back in first. good to see HRod get the save.

  14. MicheleS - May 17, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Gonat. It's the bourbon and do you blame us for getting excited after Henry's last few outings.Ehay2k.. of course the cool people read NI.

  15. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Agreed on the Tweetering, ehay. Nice work, Micheles.

  16. A DC Wonk - May 17, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    From last thread:DC Won[k] — How were you able to come up with those 1-2 percentages? Very cool. Thanks. Well, I had to compute the percentages myself, from the data at (e.g., Ryan Z): http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=zimmery01&year=2012&t=b

  17. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    We're excited to see our players and our team have success and a win. Those are all good things.

  18. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    But since you asked, I'm drinking water. ;-)

  19. Gonat - May 17, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    MicheleS said… Gonat. It's the bourbon and do you blame us for getting excited after Henry's last few outings.Ehay2k.. of course the cool people read NI. May 16, 2012 10:15 PM ____________________________Like I said "Its wierd we are all excited" because in all honesty that should be the easiest set-up to a save. A 3 run lead and a set-up of 2 batters below Mendoza and the next one 22 points above Mendoza.Henry was nice and loose as he should be but when are we going to get to a point where we don't have to worry? That was a creampuff save.

  20. MicheleS - May 17, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Gonat i don't know if we will ever get there with Henry. Sigh

  21. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Nice postgame with Davey. Off to bed now. Later, y'all.

  22. A DC Wonk - May 17, 2012 at 2:29 AM

    These were noted individually, but putting them together sounds nice:Nady — 100th career HRLaRoche – 1000th career hit

  23. Grandstander - May 17, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Henry didn't even really look that sharp in that save. He was saved by bad hitters going after bad pitches. I believe he got one off-speed in the strike zone. Everything else was outside, and most of that heat was low and away as well.Against a better team, I'm not sure he walks away easy. And as a corollary, against a better team, I'm not sure Davey sends him out there at all.But alas, he got his confidence builder, and hopefully it can calm his nerves some as we could definitely use his services moving forward.

  24. Tcostant - May 17, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    I think we're back in first, Braves loss!

  25. Gonat - May 17, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Grandstander said… Henry didn't even really look that sharp in that save. He was saved by bad hitters going after bad pitches. I believe he got one off-speed in the strike zone. Everything else was outside, and most of that heat was low and away as well.Against a better team, I'm not sure he walks away easy. And as a corollary, against a better team, I'm not sure Davey sends him out there at all.But alas, he got his confidence builder, and hopefully it can calm his nerves some as we could definitely use his services moving forward. May 16, 2012 10:32 PM ______________________________Exactly! There are artificial confidence builders like this was facing AAA type hitters. You start thinking your stuff is good and miss your spots and the good hitters will lay off of the balls out of the zone and the great hitters like Votto will pick out the one to drive deep into the outfield seats.The Pirates didn't go up with a plan. Poor at-bats.

  26. baseballswami - May 17, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    Braves lost but, man, our neighboring AL team is quite the surprise this year. Much as HATE to say it.

  27. Gonat - May 17, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    baseballswami said… Braves lost but, man, our neighboring AL team is quite the surprise this year. Much as HATE to say it. May 16, 2012 10:39 PM ____________________________They have a closer who is perfect in save opportunities and a big offense, 'nuff said.OK, I will say more, their starting pitching is not great except this Chen kid.

  28. Exposremains - May 17, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    I was wondering if there are still some skeptics about the Gio trade?

  29. Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 17, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Honestly, I'd swear you guys LIKE being miserable. Which you're welcome to do, but, …WAAAH- Waaaaaaaaaaaah. : (

  30. Gonat - May 17, 2012 at 2:58 AM

    Sec3, I am guilty on this one. Just don't see the need in making this game more difficult than it is. Henry's good/bad thing is worse than what the stats show. He has been very lucky in his last 8 saves to get the back of the other team's batting orders almost every time and its his own ineptitude which gets him back into the heart of the other teams order to lose the save (see Reds, Dodgers)It isn't like he started with Walker and McCutcheon tonight or last week to start his inning or Votto and Bruce last week, or Kemp and Ethier the week before. He's losing his saves on just not making his pitches. Henry needs to be Hanrahan'd. I am sure he will do fine somewhere else.

  31. Grandstander - May 17, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Section 3, there's 3 different types of people in this world. Those that see the glass half full, those that see the glass half empty, and those that question what's in the glass.

  32. Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 17, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    Sec3, I am guilty on this one. Just don't see the need in making this game more difficult than it is. I understand, but that's sort of my point–why not celebrate the victories, without Debbie-Downer-ing all over them while the seats in the park are still warm?

  33. Gonat - May 17, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    I am a Kool-Aid drinker except when it is so darn obvious. I supported LaRoche, Desi, Bernadina, Werth and most other players that get beat up on here.The 2 questionable players in my mind are Espi and Henry. It isn't like there isn't depth at those 2 spots. Lombo and Stammen have shown they can do it.

  34. Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 17, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    Section 3, there's 3 different types of people in this world. Those that see the glass half full, those that see the glass half empty, and those that question what's in the glass.Well, then there's the people who poured the drink. There's the dishwashers who cleaned the glass. And the ones who want one of those little umbrellas in the glass, too.

  35. Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 17, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    Ade. It's Kool-ADE.

  36. SonnyG10 - May 17, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    We WON!!!! And nobody went on the DL. That's all that counts!

  37. NatsLady - May 17, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    Boy, the Cubs bullpen is BAD, and Marmol didn't even participate. It was 2-2 in the 8th, and now, after a slam by some pinch hitter I never heard of, it's 9-2.

  38. Ann Ominous - May 17, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Did the TV guys not mention that Davey had Mattheus warming up the instant Henry went through the bullpen gate? Did not even wait for him to throw a pitch. That could have been part of the confidence-building plan for Henry, since lately it seemed as if knowing he was pitching without a safety net was contributing to his inability to seal the deal.

  39. NatsNut - May 17, 2012 at 4:03 AM

    Michael Morse is ADORABLE! too funny.

  40. peric - May 17, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Hopefully, they can continue to be this consistent through the end of this month and into the All Star break. That run might be the tale of the tape. They get Morse back and perhaps Storen during that time period, plus Wang. Hopefully, adding will offset the huge subtraction due to injury.

  41. peric - May 17, 2012 at 4:05 AM

    Boy, the Cubs bullpen is BAD, and Marmol didn't even participate. It was 2-2 in the 8th, and now, after a slam by some pinch hitter I never heard of, it's 9-2.Cubs are starting off like the Nats were 2-3-4 years ago. Rebuilding.

  42. Drew - May 17, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    Exposremains asked whether there are still any skeptics about the Gio trade. The day it was announced I said I wouldn't have parted with both Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole.I'm delighted with Gio's pitching and his personality, but it will take a few years for us to see how this shakes out.Here's how the five players are doing so far:Gio Gonzalez is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA and, as Mark noted, he's leading the majors in strikeouts.Tom Milone is in Oakland's rotation. He's 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA. Derek Norris is at AAA Sacramento, where he's hitting .293 with a .336 on base percentage. He's slugging .488 and has an .824 OPS.Peacock also is in Sacramento. He has a 4-1 record, with a 3.66 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 39 innings. At 20, A.J. Cole is struggling at A-level Stockton, where he is 0-6 with a 7.15 ERA and a WHIP of 1.71.So far, I think there's reason for both clubs to be pleased with the trade.

  43. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    I recall that, at the time of the trade, some questioned the park effect for Gio's home starts for the A's. fwiw, some splits for Milone:home: 3-0, .39 ERA, 3G, 23IP, 11H, 2R, 1ER, 0HR, 4BB, 11K, AVG .147, WHIP .65road: 2-3, 7.16 ERA, 5G, 27.2 IP, 33H, 23R, 22ER, 6HR, 9BB, 18K, AVG .295, 1.52 WHIP

  44. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Of course, Gio hadn't given up a run at home until last night, if memory serves. (Love ya, Gio.) ;-)

  45. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    On another note, I hear you, sec3. And we're upset because one of our players had a confidence boost? ummm…

  46. whatsanattau - May 17, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    (speaking to an empty room) Finding something negative in all matters is a choice; being happy about good things is a priviledge. Don't waste it. (footsteps echoing out the room …)

  47. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Actually Gio had given up 1 run at home before last night. However going into the game he and Tommy Milone had the two best ERAs at home.

  48. natsfan1a - May 17, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Thanks for the memory save, Manassas. :-)

  49. fast eddie - May 17, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Gio's only mistake last night came after an apparent blown call by the home plate ump. The pitch was clearly over the inner half but called a ball. Gio, visibly upset, then grooved a thigh-high fast ball that Harrison tattooed.Hopefully, a learning experience.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 77 57 --
ATLANTA 71 65 7.0
MIAMI 68 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 73 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 62 73 15.5
Through Saturday's games

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MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
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SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
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