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Instant analysis: Pirates 5, Nats 3

May 18, 2012, 2:06 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen hit two more homers against the Nationals.

Game in a nutshell: Unable to do anything against Pirates right-hander James McDonald for five innings, the Nationals finally came to life during a three-run sixth that included a two-run single by Ryan Zimmerman and an RBI triple (yes, triple) by Adam LaRoche. Unfortunately, the Nationals were already trailing by four runs at that point because Jordan Zimmermann served up three home runs (two of them to Andrew McCutchen). The Pirates tacked on another run against Craig Stammen in the seventh, then hung on to salvage a two-game series split.

Hitting lowlight: Yes, they produced some runs late. But let's focus on the first five innings of this game, when the Nationals' lineup was hogtied by McDonald. The right-hander retired the first 13 batters he faced, nine via strikeout. Most of those came on breaking balls. Bryce Harper finally broke up the perfect game when he drew a walk with one out in the fifth. But it wasn't until Jesus Flores doubled to open the sixth that McDonald's no-hit bid was quashed. For a Nationals lineup that had finally broken out over the last week, this was a backward step.

Pitching lowlight: Considering he had been credited with a quality start in each of his first seven outings this year, Zimmermann certainly was allowed to have a bit of an off-night. And it's not like the right-Read more »

  1. Les_in_NC - May 18, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Les_in_NC - May 18, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    I really hate that I am doing so well in my fantasy league, because I start the Nationals opposing pitcher more often than not….

  3. John - May 18, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    Seriously, Rod Barajas?!?

  4. ehay2k - May 18, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    Instant analysis:Jordan not sharp, and the Nats make yet another CY Young candidate out of yet another breaking ball pitcher.

  5. Clip&Store - May 18, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    got home from work around the 7th inning so i cant comment much on the game, but i heard bob say that we have now lost the season series to the pirates..all i can say is thank god for the mets, because if not for them, we'll be deep into the cellar with how we've played lately. pathetic and embarrassing to perform like this anywhere, esp at home.

  6. baseballswami - May 18, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    For all of you who know baseball better than I do — If a really good, hot , hitter hits a homerun off of you – does that mean the pitch was a mistake? Or could it be the pitch was a good pitch but the guy hit it? It didn't seem like all those pitches that the pirates, especially McCutcheon hit, were bad pitches to me. It seemed like ZNN tried lots of things against him but nothing worked. It also seemed like the other pitcher was getting close calls and Jordan was getting nothing. Doesn't that kind of force you to pitch in a way that is outside your comfort zone? Anyway – we are so used to our pitchers giving up 1 or 2 and expecting them to go seven that a start like this seems like a natural disaster. After an idyllic start, the pitchers are showing some mortality. The offense had lots of opportunities to overcome that and just didn't capitalize except for that one flurry of activity. How many times were we in scoring position and just folded? We have been scoring a little better lately, but the Orioles are a surprisingly hot team right now. We need to play better against the sub-par teams. Or maybe there was just some misplaced hot stuff….

  7. Fear and Ignorance - May 18, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    "They are who we thought they were." This is an 84-85 win team. I am guessing they will fall back to about .500 in a few weeks and if they can get some hitting could battle for the 5th playoff spot. Not feeling too confident right now. This division will come down to the Braves and Phillies I am afraid. Right now, I would also say the Marlins are probably a bit better as well, but at least the Nats have a chance because of Stras and Gio.

  8. Clip&Store - May 18, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    sometimes its credit to hitter, sometimes its a mistake. more times than not its a mistake but you gotta give the hitter his props for capitalizing on it

  9. Clip&Store - May 18, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    ^ *mistake as in a mistake pitch

  10. Fear and Ignorance - May 18, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    Eugene-30 out of 74 times they have got the runner home. Like I said in the other post-40% of the time. League average is over 50%. As of tonight they are ranked 28th in that category ahead of only Pittsburgh and Oakland. 12 teams get that runner home over 55% of the time. Not good when you play so many close games!!!

  11. John C. - May 18, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    After every loss, the team is terrible, the team is doomed, and the players don't care. The opposition does not matter – it's all about the Nationals' failure, the other team never succeeds.When the team wins, why they are on their way to the playoffs! Just one or two slight adjustments, and they will be a WS contender!It's like Nats fandom has been taken over by … Redskins fans or something.

  12. Exposremains - May 18, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    The Nats are like Desmond, they do something great and then do something puzzling.You never what you're gonna get.Personally, I tend to get more frustrated with Desmond than amazed. When you think they're over the hump, they stumble.

  13. Exposremains - May 18, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    There has been a lof of talk about maturity and I think its very true about many Nats player. Espinosa, Desmond, Harper, Hrod, JZim, Stras, Detwiler, Ramos need at least another year(for some I'd at least 2) to really reach their full potential. I think marutirty and confidence is the key. The ability is there.

  14. NatsNut - May 18, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Good column on hitting slumps. Kurkjian on slumps

  15. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 18, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    Lets look at how McCutchen has done agains tthe nats and against everyone elseAgiinst the nats 5 games 17 AB 6 Runs 10 hits 4 homers 6 RBIs 3 BBB 1 K. BA .588 OBS .650 SLG 1.294 OPS 1.944Against all other teams29 games 112 AB 35 hits 16 Runs, 1 HR,10 RBIs, 9 BB 23 K, BA .313 OBS .363 SLG .473 OPS .836Even without the Nats his numbers aren't bad except homers, but the nats who are suppose to to have solid pitching has no clue how to pitch this guy. What are the other teams doing, as he doesn't hit against them like he does the nats.

  16. Candide - May 18, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    I'm not feeling at all good about the next few weeks.On April 25, the Nats record was 14-4. They've gone 9-11 since then, against very unimposing teams; of the teams they played during that stretch, only the Dodgers have a winning record, and they got swept by L.A.The way they've been playing lately, I wouldn't be surprised to see them get swept by Baltimore this weekend, another team with a winning record, mirabile dictu.

  17. Eugene in Oregon - May 18, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    F&I: You may well be right, but I'm not finding those numbers on either Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference.com (at least in places where I know to look). Where did you get those percentages? I'm not trying to cast doubt on them, I'd just like to find them for my own reference in the future.

  18. NatsNut - May 18, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    i'm definitely not one to talk, but I think Zimmerman could stand to lose a pound or two. he's looking juuuust a little thick-ish and really lumbered to 2B on that hit.

  19. Fear and Ignorance - May 18, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Eugene-Baseball Reference has them if you go to Washington Nationals hitting stats…click on more stats and scroll down to Situational Hitting stats near the bottom of the page. It is the last column on the right and says Advances. <2, 3B…click on league register to see all teams.

  20. NatsLady - May 18, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Manassas, the Pirates must be wondering EXACTLY the same thing about LaRoche who is hitting like .500 against them. He's hitting well against other teams, but destroying the Pirates. How come the Pirates can't figure out how to pitch him?

  21. Unknown - May 18, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    JZim needs to get better and tougher with 2 outs, all but 1 of the runs he allowed came with 2 outs. SItuational hitting stunk again tonight!

  22. Clip&Store - May 18, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    I never said they were great when they won 1 game vs terrible teams, but i have said they're terrible after losing or splitting series's vs terrible teams

  23. rdexposfan - May 18, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    At the end of the O's series, Nats will be at 41 games played at the quarter way point then it is a time to reflect. Right now the Nats are 1/2 game behind Atlanta and have the 3rd best record in the NL and all I see here is how terrible a team the Nats are. After every loss it is the same story here, the season is lost and (insert players name here)is a bum and should be traded for a bag of balls. There is 162 games in a season with ups and downs. This is a team that has lost it's closer and backup closer, LF, RF and 2 catchers and still has a winning record and has a great record.

  24. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 18, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Nats Lady, I was thinking the same thing as I was typing. I didn't look up the numbers, but they would be excellent. However at least the nationals try and put a few batters around LaRoche, the person following McCutchen no matter who it is has not been steller. Not that LaRoche's protection is a lot better.

  25. Bzl. - May 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    @ John C. You nailed it with the Redskins thing. The DC fanbase is all about the last game. NO patience whatsoever, even if the season does last more than 16 games. "We're doomed! We suck! Fire everyone!" "We're the greatest team since the '27 Yankees!". This is baseball, folks.

  26. natsfan1a - May 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    John C and Bzl: come on, those are gross generalizations that may represent a portion of the fanbase, but certainly not all of it.

  27. SFNats - May 18, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Fear and Ignorance said… "They are who we thought they were." This is an 84-85 win team. I am guessing they will fall back to about .500 in a few weeks and if they can get some hitting could battle for the 5th playoff spot. Not feeling too confident right now. This division will come down to the Braves and Phillies I am afraid. Right now, I would also say the Marlins are probably a bit better as well, but at least the Nats have a chance because of Stras and Gio.—————————————Maybe. I think any of us would have been happy with 84-85 wins before the season starts. As it stands, the Nats could play .500 ball for the rest of the season and end up a little better than that — around 90 wins. I don't think anyone expected them to keep playing at a .600 clip after a hot start, but playing .500 the rest of the way doesn't seem too farfetched.Especially when you consider that they've compiled a 23-15 record while missing their big HR hitter and closer for the whole season so far. Their all-star-caliber RF for much of the season. And Zim and Espi haven't really started hitting yet. Now, we can expect some regression in the pitching, since they were putting up unreal numbers for the first month. But it's still one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. All to say, you can definitely see .500 the rest of the way, which would put them at 89-90 wins.

  28. Eugene in Oregon - May 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    F&I: Thanks for the link to those numbers on the Nats not getting runners home from third with fewer than two outs. They do indeed demonstrate that the Nats are among the worst — although not the worst — in getting runners home in that situation.

  29. Clip&Store - May 18, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    yes but some of you are being so stupid. Its about the here and now. Ever since they red hot start that in all honesty had fluky wins, they have been mediocre at best. And we haven't even hit NYY, BOS< ATL, etc. I know your all used to losing (me too with the nats) but you cant sit on a hot start and expect to ride it the rest of the year

  30. Clip&Store - May 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    *the*BOS, ATL

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ATLANTA 57 48 1.5
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NEW YORK 50 55 8.5
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