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No beat from heart of lineup

Jun 3, 2012, 10:31 PM EST

Associated Press photo
Ian Desmond slams his bat in frustration after popping out in the sixth.

It shouldn't be this way. The only sure things right now in the Nationals' lineup are the two rookies hitting at the top of Davey Johnson's order. The veterans who follow and boast actual track records of success at the big-league level? They're the ones making all the outs.

It's an unusual situation, to say the least, and on Sunday it cost the Nationals a very winnable game against the Braves. Despite the continued success of rookies Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper, the rest of the lineup could do nothing against Tommy Hanson or two Atlanta relievers during a 3-2 loss that dropped the Nats into a first-place tie in the NL East with the Marlins.

"Pretty disheartening," Adam LaRoche said, "the fact we started it up 2-0 in the blink of an eye and couldn't get anything else out of it."

Indeed, many among the crowd of 38,046 had yet to settle into their seats when Lombardozzi and Harper made history by launching home runs on consecutive pitches in the bottom of the first, giving theRead more »

  1. Section 222 - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Wow, nearly 30 minutes after Mark posts this, and there are no comments. Guess everyone is pretty depressed.I was at the game today. Glorious day, huge crowd, and a very disappointing Nats performance — for the last 8 innings. Zim's 8th inning GIDP would have been a let down, except that it was so completely predictable. He just looks lost at the plate. All the discussion of resting him, moving him in the order, etc. is a waste of energy though. Unless he tells Davey he's hurt (and from Mark's reporting it sure sounds like he's not going to do that), he's going to bat 3rd no matter what. Get used to it.I'd love to hear from someone who was watching Bo Porter on Harper's double in the 5th. On the replay that I just watched, you can't see whether he put up a stop sign. What you can see is Harper watching Heyward pick up the ball as he approaches 2nd, so I don't know if he ever looked to Bo for direction. Anyway, it was an unfortunate result but you gotta love the hustle. That kid is exciting to watch. And with the way the middle of the order is hitting, can you really blame him for trying to get in position to score on a grounder in the infield?

  2. natsfan1a - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    Speaking only for myself, it was a frustrating game, but I don't get depressed about baseball. Actually, I don't get depressed about anything (knocks on wood). After the Nats game, I watched the Giants/Cubs game on WGN, because I just can't get enough baseball. Also, my husband is off fishing so I had control of the tv set. Woohoo! Double-header time. But I digress. Anyhoo, off to have some din-din now.

  3. Steady Eddie - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    Boy, no comments for over half an hour on this latest post. Everyone must be as depressed as I am, and really, what more is there to say after losing 4 out of their last five against tough competition….Except wait, they won 6 out of their last seven before that, also against a tough schedule. But then lost 4 out of their previous five before that.And it adds up to about a .500 team over that stretch, but this manic-depressive streakiness sure takes it out of a fan, especially when we were supposed to be a more potent offensive team once we got most of our weapons back. (Yeah, I know, you can give explanations for most of the individual performances (lack) but it's unnerving.)

  4. Steady Eddie - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    222, are we operating on the same WiFi router or something? 😉

  5. Section 222 - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Steady Eddie — GMTA!

  6. Section 222 - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:52 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.A few datapoints. I went to the box office around 1:30 pm, and can confirm they were only selling SRO tickets, and also $135 seats, which I presume were Suite tickets, though I don't know for sure. At first they wouldn't give me a SRO ticket in an exchange for a raincheck (from Friday), but I convinced them. As for the attendance, we've heard before that it's not a sellout unless they sell all of the super expensive seats. But also, I wonder how they count Red Carpet Rewards tickets. My guess is that since those are giveaway tickets, they don't count toward "paid attendance." That means that the game could sell out for well under 41,000 if there were alot of RCR tickets requested. At any rate, these two Braves games sold really well. And the Yankees series is coming up. The Lerners must be smiling tonight.

  7. Drew - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Gantlet update:The Nats are 7-7 with 18 games to go. (After that game, I could use a 7 & 7.)On a happier note, Robbie Ray throws 8 scoreless innings for Potomac. Seems like a couple of the young, promising pitchers are starting to hit their stride.Hagerstown scored 13 more runs. Man, those guys can hit. It will be fascinating to see which of these guys continue to progress after they're promoted to Potomac.The jump to high-A seems to be a challenge for a few guys (Keyes, Kelso) who excelled at H-town last year.

  8. realdealnats - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Frustrating loss but…I went into this season predicting 84 wins to myself. And I always count on injuries, but not such critical ones for such heavy hits. Now Beast is back, and the kids are a great surprise, not b/c we might have predicted it, but b/c they are really doing it! So we give our 3-4-5 guys a couple weeks to come around and get into a new groove. Let Zim get his shoulder all the way back, LaRoache work his way through the temporary slide, and Morse have a couple weeks to get it all going. So what's not to like? I think we are actually maybe a 86 or 88 win team this year, and with the playoffs in our sights at the end of the season, we might even be capable of running off whatever kind of winning streak is needed to get in. That's the kind of team I think this is. So in that crazy sense, maybe we go higher than 88. But to expect it is unrealistic. In the big picture we're actually ahead of schedule–except this is the year we want to be lucky and steal a WS before the pressure gets turned up! So let's enjoy the ride, hope for pitching to hold strong, and hitting to come around, and make the end of season run and do this thing. GYFNGoGo

  9. Doug Herbert - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    Section 222 -I had a discussion about the Red Carpet Reward tickets over on Baseball Prospectus and the writer there said he called MLB and they told him the tickets do count toward paid attendance. The idea is that they weren't given away, but were paid for through the total season price for the tickets.

  10. Section 222 - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    Doug H — Interesting. Thanks for the info. What's your theory on how they could be down to SRO and the super pricey tickets and still have only 38K paid attendance today? Did the really have over 2,000 of the expensive tix not sold? They defintiely sold alot of SRO based on the crowds at the box office.

  11. mick - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    glad Zim admits he stinks. how anyone can blame Gio for the loss amazes me!! The Lerners I bet are pissed that fams are finally coming and our 3,4,5 and 6 hitters hot like a bunch of sissies!!

  12. mick - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    that 9th inning Ab's were the worst and most gutless performance I have ever senn froma Nats team since 2005!

  13. mick - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    and again… why is eckstein still in DC!!!!!He sucks, just sucks!!!

  14. mick - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Beast looks like a BUST!

  15. mick - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Steady eddie…. I'm pissed!!!!

  16. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    My final thoughts from this game: Did you really think Atlanta would not beat us at all this year? Harper — why wouldn't he try to make it to third? He basically knew if he stayed on second he would be stranded there anyway. He might as well hope for a bad throw and force the issue. When he sees everyone after him doing nothing, he will try to do it all himself. Gio — he gave up 3 runs – count them — 3, which is not a major disaster, people! This game should have been won by the nats, especially in the 8th. The rookies — looking fine – I hope Eckstein doesn't muck them up with his technical mumbo jumbo. In one week we could be anywhere from 1st to 5th in the standings – time for the "heart" of the order to look in the mirror and do a gut check.

  17. mick - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    who ever would blame Gio for this loss is NUTS, this is all on the no-account offense

  18. SCNatsFan - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    The thing that scares me about all of this is that I really think Zim is hurt and without him this lineup doesn't really scare anyone.

  19. hiramhover - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    I'm pissed!!!! You mean in the American sense … or the British?

  20. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    Very funny hiramhover — perhaps both?

  21. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    The Cardinals have been shut out the last two games by the Mets, including the no-hitter. They really need to get angry and put a hurt on the Mets – they really do. Please. And while we are at it, can somebody please beat the Marlins, too?

  22. Gonat - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    The Cardinals entire team is in a slump.

  23. Gonat - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    The Cardinals haven't scored in the entire month of June. 25 1/3 innings and counting going back to May 30th.

  24. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:36 AM

    Gonat – we are thinking alike. If you think the nats offense is cold, STL is non-existent. The Mets are just cruising. I wish the Mets and the Fish were playing each other tomorrow. What gives me hope is that the last two years, the Giants and the Cardinals, did not have giant offenses, they hung around and hung around and then went on a late run. We can do that when everyone is back and running on all cylinders if we can do the hanging around part now.

  25. phil dunton - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Zimmerman hasn't been any good good since 2010. Mr. Clutch he is not and he does not deserve to bat in the 3 slot. This team desperately needs a talented hitting coah who can work with struggling hitters to get them back on the right track but we all know that isn't going to happen.

  26. rogieshan - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    Thank heaven for our pitching.

  27. Gonat - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    Justin Verlander has lost 3 straight starts. the baseball world has gone off of its axis.

  28. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    I don't blame Gio for the loss per se. I just said, in the last 4 losses, the pitchers have been given a lead at least into the 4th and3 times even further, and all they have to do then is give up no more than same amount runs that the opposing pitchers give up during the rest of the game. Simple math. We are in postition to win all 4 of those if the pitchers give up nothing. Didn't happen but once in the last 5 games and that is Saturday.Is that the way we want to win know. But Strasburg and his mates were given a 2 run lead just like all the other starters, and he kept it where the others couldn't do it. Should they have to do it no, but if they had done it we win. In reality I blame the batters, but had the pitchers kept the leads they were given, we would still win depsite terrible hitting.Agree lets try something new. Get rid of Eck. (As I have said if the people I am responsible for performed their task as poorly as Ecks people do as a whole, I believe I would be canned.

  29. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    By the way I am notdepressed, I am bitterly disappointed. Games like that though make falling asleep very hard for me. Last night though I slept like a baby.

  30. hiramhover - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    God, not these complaints about Eckstein again.Look, the problem today, as our esteemed host points out, was the heart of the line up. None of them is having problems that will be solved by a new hitting coach.Zim – is either still recovering from injury, or still actually injured. Either way, the hitting coach doesn't matter.LaRoche – was ridiculously hot to start the season, and has been ridicuously cold the last 2-3 weeks. He's neither as good as he was to begin nor as bad as he's been lately. Over the season, he'll be fine. Again, the hitting coach doesn't matter (and–funny thing–I don't seem to recall anyone crediting Eckstein for his hot start).Morse – is all of 2 games into his season, after sitting with an injury for 2 months. Either he's healthy or he's not. If he's healthy, he'll shake off the rust, and the hitting coach doesn't matter. If he's not healthy–the hitting coach doesn't matter.

  31. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    The Mets for 3 games, followed by 15 straight against the al east. A couple of weeks of al baseball – is this how it usually is? Seems like a lot all at one time. Just when we really don't want to dh – our pitchers are actually hitting better.

  32. Dave - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    I was at the game today. Needless to say, the loss was painful. But they get back down to it on Tuesday. I hope maybe the middle of the batting order will start to do something soon.I was shocked when I heard the attendance was announced at 38K. My wife and I always guess the attendance after the 3rd inning, and one or the other of us is almost always within about 1,000 of what's announced. I guessed 40,150, she said 40K even. Place looked full. I have no idea how they count tickets sold, if that was not a near sellout today.

  33. carolync - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    We foolishly stayed for the 9th inning and got caught in a huge Metro crush. Anyway it was the first time I had seen Kimbrel pitch. Easy to see why he was 2011 NL Rookie of the Year. He blew Morse, Desmond, and Espinosa right out of their socks. Three ugly, flailing strikeouts. It was a great day to be at the ballpark Absolutely perfect weather and a large enthusiastic crowd.I've been a Nats fan too long to be depressed by losses that should have been wins.Mets are crushing the Cards.

  34. Section 222 - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Hiramh, your voice of reason is refreshing. Of all the things we can complain about right now, the hitting coach is the most ridiculous. I'm worried about the Nats vs. the AL East, especially the away games. The NL is at a big disadvantage in those games because our DHs are bound to be worse than theirs. And in this case, 36 ABs for Nady or Bernadina or Ankiel doesn't give me much to look forward too. Let's just hope that our pitchers are at the top of their game in Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore.

  35. peric - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Why am I NOT DEPRESSED section 222? Maybe because **I** and a paltry few others predicted this?It WAS an d IS the heart of the lineup that was the problem last year and this year. The names may have changed but the problem is the same. Its why I was a big proponent for signing a reasonably young Prince Fielder and stationing his left-handed bat at first base. BECAUSE? That's what the real numbers, the real stats tell you if you read them.Sheesh.Its NOT Zimmerman as Fear and Ignorance (apropos name given his posts) and Mick might tell you. Its systemic. Morse is the only guy who came close to hitting elite levels hitting wise last season. After him Werth? Hell NO! Zimmerman. In the end the only two reliable hitters!!!And Zimmerman has a shoulder problem. Stop lying out yer ass Zim! Its why the pitchers are pitching him outside to outside corner because Zim can't reach those with his current bat speed. Last season when he came back from the abdominal he used to send those out for homers and doubles. Imagine that! The opposition knows you're hurting Zim! And you think you can lie about that to Nat's fans? Sheesh!YES indeed the heart of the line up is a problem. Now, let's ask the operative question. Are their solutions? OF COURSE! But most of you won't like them because they involve PATIENCE and waiting it out. YES Zim's bat will return. He may need an entire offseason and a bunch of lectures about saving himself for a whole season. Those fielding web gems are pricey!! Or you move Zim to first base and Espinosa to third base. Problem solved. That's what I would do. And sorry but from the looks of him Rendon is a major league second baseman, first baseman or left-fielder. My god he injures himself running the bases!!! As for the rest of the "heart". After Morse its Bryce Harper who will likely be batting third sooner rather than later. Perhaps Tyler Moore and/or Matt Skole. Those are two more wait-and-sees. We actually got lucky in that Harper looks right on the cusp of becoming an impact bat at age 19 much like hitters well like lefty Ted Williams. LUCKY! It doesn't happen commonly so yes WE ARE VERY LUCKY Harper is living up to every expectation and then some … and the funny thing about it is he probably doesn't think so? And you wonder why Prince Fielder was lathering from the mouth about joining the Nationals after he was in Detroit's spring training? Because he knows the kind of lineup he could have been in.If you want to blame Rizzo and the owners for the first place record for two months fine. The only thing I question is going for the unknown of a Skole or Moore when you had a Fielder. Yeah he has the bad Adam Dunn body ( Noting that Dunn lost a lot of weight before this season) but we all know that could have been improved …

  36. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    I didn't say firing Eck would help. I just don't think it would hurt. Since the team has RISP problems for three years, and they keep many of the same players, they need a different approach to the situation.I like how FP said his hitting coach asked every batter what was the plan for the at bat as they headed for the on deck circle. At least the coach is trying. I ahve never seen any communication between Eck and a player (doing between games is fine, but lets not ignore the game. Pitching coaches talk to the catchers between innings most of the time. I expect the hitting coach should be doing the same thing. I don't see where he is coaching. Was listening to Ripken baseball earlier this evening a repeat from Fridau, Cal implied that most hitting coaches are not listened to anyway, as the players just will do what they feel like, though the coaches go through the motion of preparing things for the players, but rarely actually work with the players, as they think they know better. That would explain why Eck says nothing.

  37. Gonat - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    Boz has a new article up

  38. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    The thing with us playing the AL east is that the rest of our division has to play them,too. This baseball season has been completely and totally unpredictable so far. Maybe we should just wait and see how things play out before we allow ourselves to wallow in misery so much. I swear we have been more miserable with our team in first place than we ever were when our team was always in last place.

  39. SCNatsFan - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    I don't know if a hitting coach can decrease strikeouts and get more quality ABs, I really don't. If they can then Eck is at fault; if this is the talents fault then why fire Eck and cause turmoil.

  40. DJB - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Zim and LaRoche do not have the career OPS to be in the heart of a playoff team's lineup. I understand the strategy of going with pitching first, but this problem needs to be addressed in the offseason. Fielder should have been a Nat. With Bryce becoming so potent, teams will pitch around him unless there is some serious pop behind him. Move Bryce to third in the lineup, Desmond to second, Zimmerman to fourth, and Morse to sixth. Unfortunately, we're stuck with LaRoche in fifth. Prince Fielder has a career OPS of approximately .930. Big mistake not getting him. I wonder if the Nats could work a trade with Zim for a couple of proven hitters. What is the contract status of LaRoche? Is there any way to trade him, or are we locked?

  41. Unknown - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    We did not "have" Fielder and the back end years of that contract will not be pretty for Detroit (see A. Soriano, Chicago) nor will Nats for Werth – they can't afford another bad contract like that and need to save $$ for Harper, Strasburg, JZim, and other good young players.I guess you could fire Eck, but I'm not sure how much it would change things – fans of bad teams have placed undue hope in hitting coaches for years to no avail.I do agree the Nats need another impact bat to complement Harper (and hopefully the Beast when he gets into his mode in a week or so – maybe in Fenway?). Zim and LaRoche are ok to good hitters, but not good enough at 3-4 for a team with play-off aspirations, unless they emulate the 1959 Chicago White Sox (aka "hitless wonders"). But bright side — Top 5 record in baseball, first place tie, good pitching staff, Lidge, Leon, DeRosa, Storen, Mattheus on the mend – draft tomorrow and 7.75 weeks till trading deadline. And fans showing up in droves (including me to 1 of the games with the red-hot Mets).

  42. Section 222 - Jun 4, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    Geez peric, lighten up. You'll give yourself ulcers with all that yelling and gesticulating. I'm sure you don't remember because you seem to think that when you have an idea you're the only one who does, but I was a big proponent of signing Prince too. I understand why they didn't want to go beyond six years, but I wish they had. ALR has had a nice season so far, but I fear his best play this year is behind him. On the other hand, his D has helped all the other infielders look better.As for your brilliant idea of moving Zim to first and Espi to 3rd — rant and rave all you want, but it's never gonna happen. And why would you want Espi's very suspect bat at a power hitting position anyway? That makes no sense. When things look hopeless, let's all just remember — We have Strasburg and Harper on our team! Holy crap, those guys are for real and we're going to enjoy watching them perform for the next five years.

  43. Joe Seamhead - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:19 AM

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  44. Joe Seamhead - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Ryan Zimmerman will not continue to stink the place up. He is in a slump. It's baseball, it happens. He will emerge from it soon. Morse will awaken soon, also.After his terrible start last April/ May there was a bunch here that said, "See! I told you Michael Morse isn't an everyday player." You were wrong then and those that think Zim won't snap out of a slump are wrong now. ALR has always been streaky. He's in a mini-slump. And enough of 'we should've signed Fielder' already. With the terms demanded it would've been a very stupid move. Turn that page. Better yet burn that book.We've got so many positives it's hard to count them inspite of an injury list that goes from here to Hades and back.We're still in first, we won't stay there for the entire summer, but we'll end up there. You'll see. Jeez…GYFNG!!!

  45. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    We will have some advantage going into the AL East series, IMO, because the hitters are not overly familiar with our pitchers. Even though Gio and EJax were in the AL, they were in a different division, and it's been a while since CMW was healthy. Yes, Venters is good. I didn't have a lot of hope for the 9th inning, but stayed anyway on principle, because if Verlander can stumble…

  46. rabbit34 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Fourth place won't be all that bad for this batting order, will it? Well,'t! Hey, we saw the top for a while. Too bad we will waste all the good pitching and Harper. Oh well, wait 'till next year.

  47. MicheleS - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Wow..lots of griping and grumling for a team that is in 1st place. I would just like to remind everyone that our 30th win came in game 66 last year, 61st in 2010, 98th in 2009, 75th in 2008. Everyone needs to step back and see the forest and not just a broken twig on the floor of the forest.Geesh.. lighten up people. And Mick.. Maalox helps.

  48. Gonat - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    The way I see it the Nats are playing good baseball, they just aren't seizing opportunities.The 3 way tie for 1st place is more a matter of how good the NL East is. The Mets just destroyed the Cardinals and the rest of the NL East is doing that to all the other teams.The Nats need to to keep winning series and take care of their own business.

  49. DJB - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Ryan's numbers are good career-wise, but not good enough with Bryce putting up Mickey Mantle numbers. Maybe the temporary solution is to put Ryan in the 2-slot and put Bryce in the 3-slot. Risky, but maybe go after Hamilton for the 4-slot, or get one of Texas's great young prospects in the minors. I agree the hitting coach is irrelevant.

  50. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    With regard to "situational" hitting, there is also "situational" pitching. Here is an excerpt about a hitter who can't seem to "produce" with RISP.LaHair is hitting .367/.436/.689 with seven homers in 90 at-bats with the bases empty this season. With runners on, that drops to .233/.347/.433 with three homers in 60 at-bats. With runners in scoring position, it drops further: .171/.348/.286 with one homer in 35 at-bats.That’s why LaHair has so few RBI: the bulk of his production has come with no one on base.Now, does that mean LaHair is a bad player? Of course, not. It hardly necessarily means he wilts in the clutch, either. Part of it is likely a fluke. Another part of it is likely that he’s had some tough left-handers brought in to face him in big spots. LaHair, a left-handed hitter, is hitting .136 against southpaws, compared to .344 against righties.Also, when LaHair does get to face a righty with men on base, he’s probably being pitched a little differently. The spike in his walk rate suggests that pitchers are being more careful with him in those situations.— Matthew Pouliot Jun 3, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT

  51. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    The Nats are still on a 93.5 win pace. Not too shabby.

  52. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    DJB, disagree on Hamilton. Even if Texas doesn't sign him (which they probably will), the price will be very steep for a guy with a history of injuries and off-field problems. Agree he's a "diffrence-maker" and those are rare, but, also, he needs/expects A LOT of baby-sitting from Ron Washington, just watch their interaction during games.

  53. baseballswami - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Gonat= the voice of reason today. Right now we could have a bad stretch, be in the basement of our division ( what's that – like 2 or 3 games back?) and in a week or two go on a tear and be right back on top. This thing in the NL East is going to be a long, tough dog-fight. The Cardinals have scored 1 run in three games against the hot Mets. They won the series last year and are in an offensive slump – do you really think this will define their season? There are ups and downs and this year may have a few more of each. They just seem so much more pronounced and crucial this season. Get used to it.

  54. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:23 PM

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  55. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Agree on the unpredictable part, and on waiting to see how things play out before wallowing in misery. Disagree on the miserable part. I've been enjoying the unexpected ride, but that's just me. :-)baseballswami said…The thing with us playing the AL east is that the rest of our division has to play them,too. This baseball season has been completely and totally unpredictable so far. Maybe we should just wait and see how things play out before we allow ourselves to wallow in misery so much. I swear we have been more miserable with our team in first place than we ever were when our team was always in last place. June 03, 2012 10:56 PM

  56. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Padres or Cubbies fans might be talking about next year, although there are still four months left to play. I'm not doing it, and you can be [darned] sure the players aren't doing it. Thank goodness they have more grit and determination than we do and aren't about to roll over and throw in the towel on the season. It's a marathon and all that. :-)rabbit34 said…Fourth place won't be all that bad for this batting order, will it? Well,'t! Hey, we saw the top for a while. Too bad we will waste all the good pitching and Harper. Oh well, wait 'till next year. June 04, 2012 7:28 AM

  57. Gonat - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Baseballswami, thanks. Time for Davey to work some magic.

  58. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:43 PM

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  59. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Looked at some stats, Nats playing pretty clean baseball. Errors are somewhat subjective, but 29 in 52 games, 2nd in NL. Compare Giants (last), who have 51 errors. The Nats defensive-efficiency-rating is the highest in the NL at .713.For context, the Brewers, who traded defense for offense, have a rating of .662.For those unfamiliar with that stat, Def Eff, or Defensive Efficiency, is the rate at which balls put into play are converted into outs by a team's defense.Defensive Efficiency = 1- (H-HR)/(AB-SO-HR+SH+SF)

  60. natscan reduxit - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    … okay now, show of hands: how many of you have heard enough when your role player or players are mired in a slump, and claim "we just gotta keep working hard", "continue to grind it", "stay patient", and "we're going to figure it out".… words to live by? Perhaps. But maybe these trite cliches are getting just a tad long in the tooth. Maybe it's time to take a bit more action and put in a bit more work towards making the necessary changes.… just a thought.Go Nats … anyway!!

  61. 320R2S15 - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    There is nothing wrong with Zim from the neck down. This happens every year Nats Fans. You watch, after sucking the way he has been lately, he will move up a little more toward the plate and shorten up enough to allow himself to see the ball and get his base hits. Then once he has some success he reverts to that rediculous long powerfull swing from 3 feet off the black, not good. Zim will be ok,he will hit 275 and play great in the field. I'm just not sure he is worth the deal he got. Don't get me wrong again, I like Zimmerman and I root for him all the way, and I gotta think a major league hitting coach should be able to fix him. I guess it must be difficult to tell a guy like Ryan that his baby is ugly…

  62. Theophilus T. S. - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Just don't put Zimmerman's no-trade deal up to a public referendum. If you charged him an extra AB for each GIDP, his average would be around .200.

  63. #4 - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I was unable to watch the game yesterday due to family commitments and just saw the highlights. I would like chime in on one discussion. Harper's decision to try for a triple was a good one. The one situation in which to gamble going to 3rd is with one out. The old adage is "never make the 1st or 3rd out at 3rd base". It's similar to taking a shot trying to score with two outs or trying to stretch a single to a double with two outs. It took a perfect relay and a good tag to get him. He wasn't out by 20 feet. I'm surprised that people who should know better like Davey and Boz are criticizing him for it.Lastly everyone needs to lighten up on the 3-4-5 hitters. As the late 60's Tigers' manager Mayo Smith said, "Streaks breed streaks". At some point soon, these guys will get hot. They've all shown they can hit MLB pitching.

  64. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Boy, hope Rizzo & co. have their smart hats on. Not only do the Nats pick 16th in the draft, but not a lot of money to play with.Draft assignments

  65. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Have to agree. The guys will get hot, hopefully all at the same time and we will have a couple of those 12-run blowouts and be laughing. If it can happen to the M's, it can happen to us. Just keep up the good pitching and D, the hits will come."Streaks breed streaks". At some point soon, these guys will get hot. They've all shown they can hit MLB pitching.

  66. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    #4… I don't read it as criticizing Bryce. Davey and Boz are merely expressing the same thing I mentioned yesterday and that is situational baseball requires varying thought processes in approach. Sometimes an all out run through the wall effort isn't the best approach. And I'm not saying that yesterday was a time to dial back but it's still something he needs to process and learn from.I love Bryces efforts. He'll learn when to give in like he expressed when faced with being down 2 strikes in the count.

  67. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Bryce is one smart cookie. He will get the hang of "situational" effort, and he's already–noticeably–improving in the outfield. Love his plate discipline.

  68. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I wonder which team tried to get away with this:There were even reports of teams trying to circumvent the system by entering non-prospect names, like team interns, to draft and then pay them a minimal amount in order to divert bonus money elsewhere. That plan was caught and thwarted by Major League Baseball.Also, really sad to hear about the drug use in our minor-league system after Rizzo announced a strict policy. Whatever slight chance these guys had of making it shrinks with every "party."

  69. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    320R2S15 said… There is nothing wrong with Zim from the neck down. This happens every year Nats Fans. You watch, after sucking the way he has been lately, he will move up a little more toward the plate and shorten up enough to allow himself to see the ball and get his base hits. Then once he has some success he reverts to that rediculous long powerfull swing from 3 feet off the black, not good. Zim will be ok,he will hit 275 and play great in the field. I'm just not sure he is worth the deal he got. Don't get me wrong again, I like Zimmerman and I root for him all the way, and I gotta think a major league hitting coach should be able to fix him. I guess it must be difficult to tell a guy like Ryan that his baby is ugly… June 04, 2012 9:08 AM They are killing Zim to the outside of the plate. He just isn't getting good plate coverage. Once he starts controling the outside of the plate, they will come in on him where Zim will pull some HRs and that will fix his problem as you say "above the neck".On the GIDPs, this has always been Zim's issue. He hits into a lot of GIDPs but also hits a lot of them through the holes. I think all of NatsTown was thinking "Zim, please don't ground into a DP" in that situation in the 8th with 2 on and no outs. May have been the perfect time for an ambush 2006 style Zim bunt.When you are slumping, you have to help yourself.On LaRoche, I still think it could be bat speed. He just isn't putting the charge into balls like he was in April. Everything he seems to be doing is the same. With Morse back, maybe Beast can play a game or 2 at 1st to give LaRoche some extra days off.

  70. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    It's okay for Davey to tell Bryce he's up against good teams. Remember, Bryce has been playing against HS/minor leaguers. Now he is playing against guys who are going to hit the cut-off man and make clean picks. Not only that, but they are not going to be lazy when he's running. Different calculation. Just an observation–I bet he loves the competition and will thrive on being better than the best.

  71. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    NatsLady, someone made an observation that Bo was waving him on to 3rd. I don't have a problem with it. I do have a problem with the single into a double and out by 3 steps.Bryce has to take what the game gives him and get back to more sure things.Again, the team didn't lose on that play or Gio's pitching.

  72. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    If I'm an outfielder and Bryce Harper is up, I am licking my chops thinking if I sprint to the ball I have a chance for an outfield assist as this kid tries to take an extra base and guess what, Bryce has won at this "extra base" thing more than he has lost but now the teams are all wise to him. They all have scouts and they all watch the nightly Bryce Harper highlights.This is no longer a well kept secret that if you don't hustle to the ball, Harper will take an extra base.Back to the element of surprise and like I said, take what the game gives you.

  73. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    We have a good chance against the Mets even with our 3-4-5 pitchers. Chris Young up from AAA for Tuesday vs. JZ who is due for a complete game 2-hit shutout. I'd really like to see him dominate.TBD for Wednesday. Dunno what TBD's ERA is, but EJax has been lookin' good lately.Jo-han No-han for Thursday if he's up to it? This will be CMW's chance to give the infield plenty of work.

  74. NatsLady - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Ghost, didn't see what Bo was doing, so can't comment on that, but we are in a agreement, Brycie-boy's speed and hustle are no longer a secret around MLB. Glad they have an NL Rookie of the Year for him, because that kid Trout is doing pretty well in the AL ROY contest.

  75. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    NatsLady, I didn't see what Bo was doing either. Just read what someone else wrote. That looked like a triple to me. It didn't work. Big deal. The game didn't hinge on that.It is late inning heroics and the 8th inning was ultimately the Nats chance to take the game over. The Nats had the matchup they needed with men on 1st and 2nd and no outs. By the way, the ball Zim GIDP'd on was a slider that was center cut, 6" above the bottom of the strikezone that stayed over the center of the plate that Zim swung over.

  76. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I love Zimm, but true that. I was not only thinking it, I was saying it to my tv set (not that it helps any :-)).On the GIDPs, this has always been Zim's issue. He hits into a lot of GIDPs but also hits a lot of them through the holes. I think all of NatsTown was thinking "Zim, please don't ground into a DP" in that situation in the 8th with 2 on and no outs. May have been the perfect time for an ambush 2006 style Zim bunt.

  77. #4 - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    NatsJack:That's what is confusing me. It was a good situational approach to go there, not a bad one. You go for third in that situation with one out. I don't understand your (and others') comment that it was bad situational baseball.

  78. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I didn't say it was a bad situational approach. I merely said that it was a situation that COULD require a different approach depending on circumstances. It is an opprtunity to learn. Had the Braves had a guy pitching that throws alot of breaking stuff in the dirt or someone with an Hrod syndrome, maybe you hold up at second and see what developes. I had no problem with him stretching for third. I just see where a discussion can be had that you impress the kid with the process and that not always going for broke is the best approach.

  79. Theophilus T. S. - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    As I recall, nobody out Harper was already in scoring position (at 2B). If your expectation is that none of Zimmerman, LaRoche or Morse is going to get a hit for the rest of the season — the way it's been going, that's what it seems like — then by all means, try to get to third and wait for a balk. That's the situation. Baseball is a team game played by individuals. Each individual's performance is largely independent of every other player on the team. This distinguishes baseball from other team sports, where if the individuals don't play as a team, they lose. (Mostly.) The key word is "largely." There are a number of situations where the individual player needs to subordinate what he can do best (e.g., play with his hair on fire) to what is best for the team. E.g., don't make either the first or the third out at 3B. Harper simply needs to learn he's not going to win every game, or probably any game, all by himself.

  80. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    #4, part of taking an extra base is the element of surprise. Bryce Harper no longer has the element of surprise. If the CF picks up that ball rather than Heyward, Bryce is standing up and safe at 3rd. The Braves had to do execute 2 throws perfectly to get Bryce and they did which usually doesn't happen. A lot of -ifs- there and it didn't work out. I don't think it was that big of a deal in the outcome of the game.The biggest non-play of the game was Gio's hesitation running to cover 1st on the bouncer to LaRoche by Bourn. That opened up the top of the 5th for the Braves.

  81. rabbit34 - Jun 4, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Just think, all of yesterday's games have no affect on today's game.

  82. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    rabbit34, not true at all when you are talking about learning from your experiences and continual improvement. The more you play, the more you should be learning.I thought Espinosa put together some better at-bats yesterday and hope to see him build off of that. I'm sure Morse is taking the off-day to take some hacks against live pitching on whomever McCatty has doing side work.

  83. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Perhaps rabbit was referring to the fact that today is an off day. :-)

  84. Steve - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    I wish I had more information on what Rick Eckstein is doing to improve the mental part of our hitting.It appears that our sluggers (3 – 6 hole, not counting Morse) are suffering from making rookie mistakes. Our greatest evidence is after two walks to Lombo and Harp, Zim comes in and swings at the first pitch, a fastball high out of the zone for strike one. Was there any thinking going on in Zim's head? I am not privileged to be able to observe what Rick is doing to help our buys with batting, but I have had serious concerns all year about the mental mistakes at the plate.

  85. Doug Herbert - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Section 322 -Sorry for the delayed response. My theory is that they gave a lot of tickets away. Wasn't it Scouts Day and some other kind of kids' day? I understand that the Nats are pretty generous with ticket giveaways for kids from the poorer neighborhoods.





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