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Instant analysis: Braves 3, Nats 2

Jun 3, 2012, 8:14 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back homers in the first inning.

Game in a nutshell: Everything started swimmingly for the Nationals when Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back homers. But Gio Gonzalez labored and couldn't make it through the fifth, and the heart of the Nats' lineup kept coming up short in key situations. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse went a combined 0-for-12, with Zimmerman's woes continuing as he grounded into a crushing double play with two on and nobody out in the eighth. Relievers Craig Stammen, Mike Gonzalez and Sean Burnett did their part to keep the Braves from adding to their lead, but the Nationals' inability to push across one more run after the first inning ultimately cost them a chance at a fifth straight win over Atlanta.

Hitting highlight: Back-to-back homers from your first two hitters in the first inning? Not a bad way to get things going at the plate. Even better when both players are rookies and hit those homers on consecutive pitches. Lombardozzi was the first to connect, sending a 2-1 fastball from Tommy Hanson off the back wall in the right-field bullpen. The crowd of 38,046 barely had a chance to congratulateRead more »

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    thanks for the reminder Mark (martis reference). we are now tied with Marlins and Mets too if they beat Cards tonight.

  2. baseballswami - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Can we really afford to have 3-6 be the Black Hole? That 8th inning should have put us over the top. Looks like the fish are beating the phils. It's games like those that you don't know who to root against. Definitely the fish, though. Our offense needs to find itself for the Mets or we are in the basement in one week. No margin for error in this division.

  3. baseballswami - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    The back to back homers was very cool, though. According to AK, the first time since 1900 – and that's a long time. Love those two kids!

  4. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Missed opportunities and a couple of bizarre plays. Zim sure didn't help nor did a few by then.

  5. Clip&Store - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    good bye sole possession of first place. hopefully we see you again this year.

  6. MicheleS - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Ghost totally agree.. Lots of missed opportunities. Didn't get to see much of the game, and was able to hear some of C&D on the Radio.. sounds like left some men on base with no outs or 1 out.. Need to drive those home.Gio didn't seem solid. Could it be that he had too much rest..Time for Jordan to win pitcher of the Month for June!!!And we are still in FIRST PLACE (although tied) Seriously hoping some team can put a smack down on the Fish. they have the Braves/Rays/Red Sox next. Let's hope they can get stomped soon.

  7. Steady Eddie - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    What can anyone do but agree re missed opportunities that defined the game (as against the fish). But the part on Davey was not having Gio try for a sac fly when he'd already done it this year. Bad call.

  8. natsfan1a - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. natsfan1a - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Agreed on the missed opportunities. Ouch. Back-to-back rookie dingers were fun, though, as were the nonchalant reactions in the dugout.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    The thing the Fish have going for them aside from solid starting pitching, is that both Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton crush any pitch in their hitting zone. And Logan Morrison is starting to find it at the plate.This is unlike the Nats who have Zim and LaRoche who can't square anything up even if it's served up as a gift and a Mike Morse who is in day 3 of his Spring Training while the pitchers he's facing are rounding in to mid season form.The rest of the Nats lineup are performing as expected but with those 3 guys giving you nothing, they're screwed.

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Steady Eddie, agreed. I just read the game log and saw Gonats comment on the Gio sac bunt. Gio not covering first at full speed on the Bourn infield hit and Zim not advancing runners in the 8th while hitting into the doubleplay were both daggers.

  12. SCNatsFan - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    I agree NatsJack… like my beloved Devils if your superstars aren't producing there is only so much the rest of the team can do. In my heart I have to believe Zim is hurting and it wouldn't shock me if he had more time off in the near future.

  13. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Even with the hitting woes. The last 4 losses the nats were winning going into the middle part of the game. Pitchers just hold serve and the game is won. Is that pressure? No more than the other team's pressure to not allow us any more runs. the nats are the one with the lead. Pressure is much more on the opponents then.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    While we're at it, lets don't totally absolve Bryce for the over zealous desire to get that triple. I know it took excellent execution to get him at 3rd but he did make it 2 outs and nobody on instead of 1 out and man on second.

  15. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Needless to say my campaign since 2010 to get a new hitting coach is still on.

  16. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    BY the way RISP 0 for 5 today.

  17. Steady Eddie - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    NatsJack — also a comment on the game thread about The fact that the league is now wise to Harp's aggressiveness and it's now twice in a week that he's killed his own hit. He's smart enough to adjust in everything else — he needs to be told "watch the base coaches".

  18. baseballswami - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    NatsJack — Bo Porter was urging him all the way. Someone needed to be the adult.I think several of our hitters really did make some contact – the Braves outfielders get to absolutely everything and made several plays that I did not think were possible.JFlo could have changed that game with a little luck. Some of the balls that were hit – especially MM's, could have found a hole. Not one thing fell our way today. We think gio was pretty bad today but three runs should not be the end of the world. This team has got to start hitting!!

  19. peric - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Zim needs to get moved down in the order. LaRoche needs to get back untracked and Morse needs to get through another spring training. At this point Harper should be batting third, Morse fourth, and LaRoche 5th. Lombo and Espinosa at the top of the order. Put Zim and Desmond either 6th or 7th followed by the catcher. Hopefully, Zim gets to DH in June with the AL teams … its now what they were planning but they have to rest him to get him past that shoulder problem.

  20. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    They didn't show Bo on the telecast so I only go by the baseball situation. If he was bringing on then no gripe with Harper. ( but maybe with Bo.)

  21. baseballswami - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    What does everyone think about the new pitcher guy? He seems to have gotten lost in the rookie home runs/lack of hitting shuffle. Anyway here's my plan : NL Pitcher of the month april — STras, for May – Gio, JUNE — JZIM!!! May rookie of the month – Harper — JUNE – Lombo!!! Come on guys – you can do it!!!!! Wouldn't that just be so sweet? JZIM needs OFFENSE! If I have it correctly we won 5 of 6 and now have lost 4 of 5. No consistency. Maybe another 5 of 6 coming?

  22. JD - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Nats Jack, I don't agree with criticizing Harper for over aggressiveness. You live by the sword and sometimes you die by the sword. If it takes perfect execution to get him out then so be it; this is how he rolls. I don't think shuffling the chairs on the titanic (changing the batting order) will do much. Without Zim and Morse producing we are in trouble anyway. Whether we are in sole position in 1st or not matters little on the 3rd of June. The Marlins are sizzling now and we are treading water. I don't believe in Zambrano and Nolasco long term and I am not sure Johnson can stay healthy all year; we'll see.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    JD …..I wasn't criticizing as much as pointing it out. I did say "don't totally absolve". I love his entusiasm and how he plays the game. It's just that situational baseball requires awareness as well as enthusiasm.

  24. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    It took a perfect relay to get harper and really it looked safe to me, but then again everyone says I am blind.With the way the 3-6 hitters hit in this series, I don't lame porter or Harper for the play.The RISP is so poor on the team, that being on third is needed to have a chance to score, as so few score from second.

  25. Drew - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    FWIW: Tommy Milone's not getting any help, either. After his second 2-0 loss in a row, he's 6-5 with a 3.53 ERA.

  26. baseballswami - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    He pretty much knows he is going to be stranded on base anyway. He might as well force the issue – a bad throw and he could score. I worry about him thinking he has to do everything himself. Lombo seems to stay patient and stay within himself a little more than Bryce does when the big guys aren't hitting – couple of years older and more time in the minors.

  27. NCNatsie - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Remember last winter when we were all whining about how the top of our lineup was no good, and wasn't going to be able to set the table for Zim and MM. Now it seems the only way our leadoff duo can score is by hitting back-to-back jacks! They were impressive in the 1st inning, but more impressive in the 8th, drawing walks when they were both behind in the count. That's what 1 and 2 hitters are supposed to do. Then the 3-4-5 guys can drive them in. It's pretty discouraging.If there's hope, it's this: Zim, ALR and MM are surely better than they're showing right now. Maybe Zim is hurt and can get better; LaRoche has typically had one bad month per season, so he may bounce back; MM is, as others have pointed out, still in his spring training.Or is that all just wishful thinking?

  28. peric - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    It took a perfect relay to get harper and really it looked safe to me, but then again everyone says I am blind.The tag was way ahead of his slide. They got him.

  29. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    I was just looking at the updated stats. I found one that is interesting. There are only 2 guys on the team with more runs than strike outs. Plan to see what the tendacey in the league in this statistic is. Lombo and Harper the only two. (less exposure to Eckstein is what I contribute this too).

  30. SCNatsFan - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    peric c'mon, you have Morse in the cleanup spot when he doesn't even have a hit yet. Who knows how long it will take him to get on track. And how in God's name does Espinosa get moved up in the lineup… what has he earned over the last year except the 7 or 8 spot in the lineup?

  31. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Going through National league run leaders (top 50 run scorers). Only ones with more runs than Ks, CarGo, Furcal, A Ramirez, David Wright, Prado, Jose Altuve, Tulo, Infante, Marco Scutero, Mark Ellis, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Ruiz,

  32. NatsLady - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Was at the game. No wave. In fact, after the first inning, that was the quietest 38,000 people I've ever (not) heard in my life. Maybe because there were so many kids (with parents who had to watch them) and non-baseball-fan-folks out for a fine Sunday afternoon, the crowd was just not into the game. Davey flat out said in the postgame that Bryce was wrong for trying to stretch the double into a triple and he had "talked to him about it." I didn't see that play or Gio's bad inning because I went downstairs to turn in my All-Star votes and get my bobblehead (Abe Lincoln). You get the bobblehead for 100 votes, and a bag of Nats treats for 500, so I'm going to do the 500 next time if I can–might have to take them home. (I wrote in Bryce Harper and some Lombo's and some Jesus Flores). For 1,000 I think you get a "meet-and-greet" but I never go for those because I wouldn't know what to say if I met Mike Rizzo…

  33. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Got to love it the Ranger's announcers are complaining because the RISP average is onl;y .289. Wonder what our record would be with those kind of numbers.

  34. rabbit34 - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Double-play Zimmerman should take a rest. Harper looked great and is a very enthusiastic player. He ALONE is worth the price of admission. We are now in "wait 'til next year" mode. Once we fill all the holes in the batting order the Nats will do fine. Until then, keep us in there, Harper and the pitching staff.

  35. Taino in DC - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    I saw this on ESPN about US soccer team , and it how i feel about the nats this season ."Most of the time, when a "promising," "up-and-coming," "dangerous" team is developing into an elite power, its progress resembles the climb of an elevator. The floor and the ceiling rise at the same pace. The team gets better when playing at its best, but it also gets reliably better when playing at its worst. Wins that once seemed crazy to think about start to feel routine; losses that once seemed fairly normal start to feel inexplicable and devastating. That's part of what getting good is: raising expectations at both ends of the spectrum, as well as all the points in between.

  36. natsfan1a - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Nice pull, Taino (and well said, ESPN writer-person ;-)). As for expectations, on the bright side, we're not Cubs fans (forgive me, Cubbies). Watched the last half of the SFO/CHC game on WGN. One of the Cubs broadcasters was getting on the hitters for not walking into pitches. "Geez, take one for the team (that's easy for me to say). They need the baserunners." etc. Both teams are, shall we say, offensively challenged. Also, Sori looked bad in left field. His bum knee affects his range, and he didn't seem to get the best reads sometimes. The broadcasters mentioned his 46-40, I think it ended up as, season with the Nats. If memory serves, they said the most steals he's had in a season since was 19. Think the Cubs might be regretting that contract about now? Their starter looked good, though. At first when I saw "Wood" on the jersey, I was like, I thought Kerry retired? And what happened to his hair? Oh. Never mind.Zito did well for the Giants. Had a shutout into the 9th but got the hook after a hitter reached. He did end up with the win. Was happy for him, as I kinda like the dude. Also happy for my brother's fave guy, Buster, who got a hit late in the game.

  37. Unknown - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    Ok folks, I don't care what folks are doing (unless they are foul-mouthed Philly fans), let's celebrate – celebrate – celebrate – 80,000 for two games with the Braves in DC. After all the talk of DC not being a baseball town, etc. it feels so good to see fans turning out in droves at Nats Park. Please, please don't criticize them, let enjoy it! I desperately want the Nats to keep winning so the crowds keep coming. Harper was safe at 3rd anyway, so ok to go for it, the little peek at the ball he took rounding 2nd cost him – and Zimmerman needs to hit lower in the line-up until he figures out what the problem is and why he keeps rolling over pitches for GIDP – he would have been better off bunting in that situation. But, hey, it's June and the Nats are tied for first place! Let's keep showing up to support our home nine!!!

  38. btharner - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    I want to know what is up with the attendance. I got a message on Facebook from the Nats prior to the game that they were selling only standing room tix, yet the crowd is announced at 38,046 which is several thousand short of the park's seating capacity.

  39. natsfan1a - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    No-shows, maybe? Early in the broadcast, I thought Bob said they were expecting 40,000.

  40. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    For the season Nats are 91 for 416 RIS .221. Hope they are working on solving this problem. Usually it is just trying to hard, but who knows each case is different.

  41. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    On the Harper at third play the ball bounced into Prado's gove. Looked to me as if Prado tagged him on the thigh, and the foot was on the bag. Other's have told me he looked out. My wife though was the best, she nevers says anything and she was fussing at the V. Me fussing is a common thing her fussing when she doesn't care, tells me that he must have looked safe enough. the ball was there though and the umps go with that most of the time.

  42. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    When Nats put the first pitch in play they are batting .339 That is not too bad.

  43. Section 222 - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    New post up folks. :-)

  44. Steve J, Alexandria - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    Three things I take away from this game.1. Morse will need more time to get his stroke.2. Harper has to make bettter baserunning decisions and stop taking himself off the basepaths and hurting the team.3. Davey did the team and its fans a dis-service for NOT sac bunting Zim in the 9th – especially since Zim is hitting .235 and hits into double plays. Result? Zim hit into a double play. Nexrt batter was laroche who would have scored the tying run with a would be sac fly.Davey's ego stroking goes too far. His job is to win games, not lose games while preserving a player's pride.This game was on you, davey.

  45. John C. - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    rabbit34 said… Double-play Zimmerman should take a rest. Harper looked great and is a very enthusiastic player. He ALONE is worth the price of admission. We are now in "wait 'til next year" mode. Once we fill all the holes in the batting order the Nats will do fine. Until then, keep us in there, Harper and the pitching staff. June 03, 2012 6:27 PMReally, Rabbit? They're done, fold the tents, wait until next year? You do realize that the Nationals are actually in first place (even if by only .003) at the moment, don't you? Do you give up on all your endeavors so easily, or is this a special case?

  46. rabbit34 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Gotta know when to fold'em. Do I know they are in first place? Yes. Do I give up easily? No. Is this a special case? Yes. And, that's the way it is.

  47. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I don't think the team feels the same way, which is a good thing.





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