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Instant analysis: Nats 5, Mets 2

Jul 25, 2012, 1:43 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Gio Gonzalez cruised to his league-leading 13th win.

Game in a nutshell: In a rematch of last week's All-Star pitching showdown, Gio Gonzalez got the best of R.A. Dickey this time around. The Nationals lefty was brilliant, allowing just one unearned run and two hits over seven standout innings. Dickey matched his counterpart pitch for pitch through five innings, but then the floodgates opened. Adam LaRoche launched a two-run homer, one of five consecutive hits by the Nationals off Dickey during a four-run sixth. Manager Davey Johnson pulled Gonzalez after only 87 pitches, and Ryan Mattheus gave everyone a scare when he served up a pinch-hit homer to (who else?) Jordany Valdespin. But Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard slammed the door shut and gave the Nats their fourth straight win. At 57-39, they're 18 games over .500 for the first time this season.

Hitting highlight: How hard is it to hit Dickey's knuckleball? Very hard. Just look at the way most of the Nationals flailed away at the veteran'sRead more ยป

  1. Drew - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    With apologies to Will Hunting:Do you like apples?If the Nats finish 33-33 they win 90 games.How 'bout dem apples?

  2. MicheleS - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:47 AM

    WOOOOO HOOOOO! Glad Gio got it back today. He looked really good!And Drew.. well played..

  3. Tcostant - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Just heard ALR used the sharks bat for the homer because it's lighter. Smart.

  4. NatsLady - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    Sheesh, Milwaukee is right in there with the Mets for blowing late-inning leads. We get them next.

  5. MicheleS - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    At 57-39, they're 18 games over .500 for the first time this season.That is a beautiful!!!!

  6. 'Chili Mo' -- Section 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    I didn't see Flores's throw to first, the first time. NICE play.And I am going bat shopping next week. Getting me some -5 33". Bound to be on sale, right?

  7. 'Chili Mo' -- Section 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    Drew wins an Internet Apple nomination!

  8. 'Chili Mo' -- Section 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    OK, Davey just said, and I quote directly, "Rick Eckstein is probably the best hitting instructor I've ever been around."For the record. From now on, take it up with the back of Davey's baseball card.

  9. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    If Eck is so smart then why did it take DeRosa to help Bernie with something as simple as a different bat? No charts for that? Short game tonight!!! The perfect thing with a day game tomorrow.

  10. 'Chili Mo' -- Section 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    OK, beat the reverse lock, tomorrow noon.

  11. 'Chili Mo' -- Section 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    It's a big world, swami, room for all kinds of help out there.

  12. Drew - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    Home runs for Goodwin, Martinson and Rendon.Can I get a MichelleS trademark?With his 3-run jack tonight, Martinson has 9 homers and 31 RBIs at Potomac in what, 30 games?In 100 games combined at Hagerstown and Potomac, he has 19 home runs and 94 RBIs.This kid has some kinda pop.

  13. ehay2k - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Hey Sofa, how about a new bat model – The Shark. I see a big seller there!Congrats to the Nats. Yet another series win. Sweeps are gravy, but the goal is to win the series. Gio looked good, as did Zimm. Want Desi back but we are adjusting as we have all season and no one is in a panic. Man, this team is deep. (Who can we give credit for that?)And Harper does not like knuckle balls, just saying. Good news is that there is only one of them in MLB right now. (Personally, I think Dickie would look good in an AL uni. )Hey nega-ninnies, are the Nats still in first place? You mean counter to the predictions, they didn't implode after Friday's loss and fall into 427th place in our division yet? Get to know this team – they are mentally tougher than any of the doom and gloom posters.

  14. peric - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    One game behind the Yankees for best record in major league baseball but it is July 24th. Not September 24th. 275 bullpen innings 3rd most in the NL.

  15. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    I think that in general, the more experienced hitters handle the knuckle ball better. Not a surprise that the young guys would struggle. I hope that Gio continues with this style of pitching. Go Nats!!!!!!

  16. ehay2k - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Swami – I will buy you a coke for that post about the bat. I have not said anything about hitting because there has definitely been improvement. But I find it hard to believe that everyone is singing Eck's praises for a small sample size against several years of futile hitting instruction. Why has the hitting improved this year? It isn't as if Bernadina, Espi, and Desi has never had Eck's tutelage before now. (I do give Eck credit for helping Morse, but I also give Ichiro credit for the breathing and cobra pose.) What I have always maintained is that Eck has his limitations, and I felt that getting players to improve their situational hitting has been a big one. He never played in MLB. He cannot share his experience. That's not a knock, it's a fact. This year, who do you see players like Desi talking to about hitting in the dugout? Davey. You never saw that with Riggleman. That is a huge change. So while I am happy they are hitting, I am going to give credit to the guy I think is a new part of the puzzle, a change from past years, and that is a manager with a lot of top-level playing experience in the majors.

  17. ehay2k - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Peric, on the bullpen innings, if you subtract those from Lidge, Wang, Detwiler, and anyone else no longer in the pen, where do we rank? Just thinking we had some guys stashed there that won't factor into being tired (I am thinking Det being on the SP rotation means he won't be tired from his couple of appearances.)

  18. sjm308 - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Another solid win and how glad was I and I guess lots of you to see Gio back to his form of the first half.I think we have had 4 series and we have won 2 and split the other 2. Worst we can be is 8-6 after tomorrow and I have to think that SS will give us a shot at 9-5. Much different then 2005 and we just need to keep our rotation coming at people.As always, I skipped the in-game stuff but I can't think there are many gloom & doom folks left after the last 4 games. I am guessing they will surface again after a losing streak but for right now I will just enjoy being 18 games over .500. I am not a historian but can someone tell me when we were this far over .500?Love the afternoon game tomorrow. I will schedule my workout for earlier in the day and then do yard work with Dave & Charlie. Go Nats and Go Strasburg!!!!

  19. Drew - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    SJM:I hope you're not the only gent in a Nats cap who goes yard tomorrow afternoon.

  20. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    Seems like Davey would rather use the bullpen than keep the starters in. He also likes to pinch hit for them. It might look on paper like our starters "can't" go more than six or seven, but this just appears to be our manager's style. We also have three young starters that have never gone a full season. Stras won't this year, det spent time in the pen. Jordan's ability to go at least six in every game has actually caused them to pull him out to save him a bit.

  21. NatsLady - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    sjm308–July 3, 2005 (50-31). It went downhill from there. Or if you wish to be exact, 50-32 on July 4, 2005.

  22. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Before this series Sandy Alderson the GM for the Mets said that the Mets would be buyers before the deadline. I wonder if that is still true? If we sweep the Mets tomorrow it may be the first nail in the coffin for them. Yea I know it's still early but let see who the Mets try and trade for this year or if they deiced that maybe they should wait until next year.Before this series the National's schedule for the next 21 games was against team that currently are under .500. I was hoping that they could go 13-8 or slightly over .600 ball. Now they just need to go 11-8 to do that. Not to count my chickens but if they get hot here they can bury everyone in the East except maybe the Braves. Might not happen but I would not bet against them right now.

  23. UnkyD - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    If Espinosa stays with the tag on Hairston there, he over-slid (over-slood?)—————Sofa… Jerome Dean just called…. He says it's pronounced "over-slud"

  24. sjm308 - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:07 AM

    Thanks NatsLady – hoping we will be 19 games over by this time tomorrow. Drew – I do my yard work in a floppy green hat with no baseball reference whatsoever. I will wear the Red "geico" giveaway (with blue piping) from a couple years ago to go get the paper and to the gym. We are 4-0 with that hat and I don't mess with success. Swami – Davey talked about how he would have let Gio go out for the 8th but he really wanted those extra runs. I think since the Atlanta debacle. we have certainly become more focused, both coaches and players. I am not saying we have ever eased off but I think that loss actually might have helped us. Hard for me to type that as an old coach since I thought losses really did very little for me or my teams. I will say that I was much able to be much tougher on my teams after a win then after a loss. Also a factor was that swimming was more an individual sport, even though we won & lost as a team. Still very upset that Maryland will not have a swimming team but that is not for this blog. I think I have the record of being the only Md. swimming coach to lose to Duke (ugh).Go Nats!!

  25. rogieshan - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    My only concern: 12 more games versus the Phillies.

  26. peric - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    I am going to give credit to the guy I think is a new part of the puzzle, a change from past years, and that is a manager with a lot of top-level playing experience in the majors.Here's a guy who was trying to help Earl manage the team using his skills in mathematics and statistics while he was a player. Not only has he played but he seems to have analyzed each and every move like a chess player would. Add into that his 3 years worth of in depth knowledge of the Nats farm system and the talent therein. It was almost a perfect match for Rizzo. There is a bit of luck in there … almost certainly with Riggleman imploding not long after the Marquis incident. I doubt that Rizzo would have fired Riggleman and replaced him unless the Nats had another really bad year in spite of the talent Rizzo had infused at the major league level. I'm not going to get my hopes up too high … its literally been decades and I know too many Cubbie fans as well. I'll just be happy, again, to see the progress made by the young prospects as they graduate and move to the majors. I am very happy (as opposed to Giggleman) that Davey genuine enjoys bringing these guys up and continuing their development while managing to win! What could be better for now!

  27. peric - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    My only concern: 12 more games versus the Phillies.That's where the revenge of Jayson Werth might come in. And he had better keep his word on that one …

  28. sjm308 - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Peric: your last sentence says it all. This has been the most fun I have had in a baseball season in my 67 years!! It started last year in the last month and has continued through to now.I used to post about just going to Nationals Park and enjoying major league baseball. Maybe not the baseball played by our lads because to be honest, we were just not very good. Now, the bar has been raised and our boys just keep meeting it.So much fun!!go Nats!!

  29. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    My hope is that he will be hearing in his mind, the sounds of filly fans heckling him as he lies on the ground. And he will be very angry and very focused.

  30. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY Off-topic, but you can forget about Justin Upton to the Nats. Thank goodness.PHOENIX (AP) โ€” Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers says it's "highly unlikely" the team will trade outfielder Justin Upton or shortstop Stephen Drew this season.

  31. ehay2k - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    I just want everyone to start using Bernadina's bat! Does it say Wonder Boy on it?

  32. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:25 AM

    Back on topic:Davey is looking younger and younger with every victory.By the way, 57 wins. For those of us counting, that's two shy of all of 2009.You remember 2009, don't you?I believe we needed a seven-game run at the end to get to 59. Manny seems so, so long ago.

  33. peric - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    Looks like the Rays might get Hun Choi (Hank) Conger from the Angels. If I were the Nats I would have inquired about him … and considered what it would take to get him … they just might need that guy. Apparently, Borjous is included in the deal as next year's replacement for BJ Upton and perhaps even Ervin Santana.

  34. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:33 AM

    sjm308,You are correct if you can't have fun this year than you never will. There are certain years and teams that I remember in baseball and they still bring a smile to my face. Some of these teams did not win the world series but the years they had were very enjoyable. It's kind of like songs that you associate with certain years in your life.I really like this team and I will always remember it because it is the first Nationals team that is truly a contender. All I worry about is the team staying relatively healthy especially the starting pitching. If that happens I know we will be in it to the end.As for the Phillies I'm not to worried about them even if they get hot. The Braves still have 12 games against them. With so many inter-divisional games left it makes it very hard for the teams at the bottom to climb up because one of them has to lose. After we sweep the Giants I knew that this team could compete with any team in the NL. There is no NL team that we can't match up with.

  35. A DC Wonk - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    peric said… 275 bullpen innings 3rd most in the NL.I was just thinking about this earlier tonight.I wonder if the Nats _distribution_ of innings among the relievers is different from other teams. Meaning: do we use more parts of our pen more often than other teams?This would be important because using the whole BP means we're not burning folks out.We have six different pure relievers who have pitched between 34 and 54 innings (and nobody more than that).Just checking out a few other NL teams:Braves have that, too (plus Livo in their stats)Reds also have sixPirates have fiveGiants have threeDodgers have four(Big disclaimer — I just took a quick look at the current rosters at B-R, so a team might have had someone who they traded away, and he wouldn't be listed, etc.)Here's my tentative conclusion:I think as individuals, our BP is not overworked. Most of the guys (except for Stammen, who was a starter in a prior life) have between 35-46 innings.And that's the same with the other teams.The teams that have a lot fewer (LA, SF) — their top relievers still have the same number of innings as the Nats relievers so, but there are fewer of them. Which means that the probability that their _starters_ might tire come playoff time is slightly increased.Just thinking out loud — never thought of this before.

  36. A DC Wonk - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    baseballswami said… My hope is that he will be hearing in his mind, the sounds of filly fans heckling him as he lies on the ground. And he will be very angry and very focused.Consider it done, swami. Werth said so himself a month or so ago.

  37. A DC Wonk - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:44 AM

    Nats: 9 games over .500 on the road; 9 games over at home.Question: is +19 the highest the Nats have ever been?I kinda like seeing a match-up like Strasburg vs Hefner for the sweep tomorrow.

  38. SonnyG10 - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    A couple days ago I posted that Roger's new bat was lighter, and I thought shorter also. FP confirmed it tonight. Bernie's old bat was 33 oz. and 34" long. His new bat is 30 oz. and 33 1/2" long. So it is both lighter and shorter. With the coaching Bernie has been getting lately and the lighter bat, I'm hopeful Bernie has permanently stepped up his game.

  39. whatsanattau - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    It's getting harder and harder to pick a favorite player on this team. It used to be simple: 05 Cordero, 06 Nick, 07-10 Zim, 11 Morse, 12 ???? I like them all. Especially the one in the batters box.

  40. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    DC Wonk I believe Natslady is correct 50-31 was the peak in 2005 which would be 19 games over.

  41. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:49 AM

    I had to listen on radio tonight… wow, finally beat Dickey

  42. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    I see those Braves won and I see Bruuuuuuuuce coming Sept 16!!!! oh baby!!! man to I miss Clarence

  43. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:55 AM

    actually i thought Nats hit 51-32 in 2005

  44. realdealnats - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    Listening to The Fan all the way down the coast today including Gammons. Gammons thinks Hamels stays but they try their best to move Victorino and Spence–Spence b/c he is not worth the money and b/c the organization is starting to position themselves for their cable deal in 2015 when they better be back in the hunt and bringing in the fans. The general concensus was the Mets will start to play the younguns and move Bey to the side finally. Really all the Mets fans were incensed at ownership. Gammons thought Dempster was pissed at the way the Atlanta deal was so public so early–but he felt he'd sign with Atlanta. He also thought Hanley Ramirez was being shopped to no avail since no one would pay the price tag for someone with his utility man average and low OPS. FWIW… Great victory tonight. We got a perfect storm shaping up here…

  45. sjm308 - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    mick – be honest. Isn't it better listening to Charlie & Dave? They add so much more in my opinion. Wonk – I asked the same thing earlier and Natslady came through with the 7/3 7/4 dates as 19 & 18 games over and then the slide began. Not going to happen this year.Go Nats!!

  46. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    sjm… agreed, love Charlie

  47. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    SonnyG10,Bernie's hitting is quite a surprise to me. After last year I thought he would never be anything more than a 4th outfielder. Right now he is hitting .295 with a .370 OBP. If he could continue that he might be able to hit lead-off which could really transform this team. Davey is putting him in the best possible position to succeed but if he could do this even part time than one of this teams few weaknesses would diminish greatly. Hope he proves me wrong.

  48. NatsFanSinceStart - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:06 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. NatsFanSinceStart - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:12 AM

    Looking again, and back a few days, the Nats hit 50-31 on July 3, 2005.

  50. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. snopes1 - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    NatsLady -Two responses, the second researched and the first not:(1) I had the same instinctive reaction as you to Peric's insightful comment about the Nats' bullpen ranking high on IP. That seems like it's probably true, but it's because Davey has given the ball to the long men (Gorzelanny and Stammen, and Detwiler during his exile) much more than most teams. I haven't checked the numbers, but I feel confident that you're right that no single bullpen guy has been significantly overworked.(2) Yep, the all-time high for games over .500 was 19 games. This high water mark was achieved on July 3, 2005 (when the Nats went to 50-31) and July 5, 2005 (when the Nats were 51-32).See Baseball Almanac: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/schedule.php?y=2005&t=WS0

  52. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Oh, and on topic, great performance by Gio and another great win. Do you think that Mets fans are starting to dread the series when the Nats come to town? In other words, are we becoming their (historic – because we're turning that one around) Marlins? :-)

  54. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    er, I'm moving this one to the new post."Also, didn't know that Mark was a Herman's Hermits fan. He's too young for that. :-)"

  55. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Corrected post:Me, too, whatsa, though I liked a bunch on the 05 squad (Chief, Tex, Nick, Jamey – sigh).On a related note, I was saying to my hubby the other day that I think it will get more difficult to pick out a fave game. In the past, when we've made "top 10" lists of fave games, not all that many come to mind, and it's easy to reach consensus. Although I did savor those wins in the lean years, it's sweet to have so many to choose from now.Also, didn't know that Mark was a Herman's Hermits fan. He's too young for that. :-)whatsanattau said…It's getting harder and harder to pick a favorite player on this team. It used to be simple: 05 Cordero, 06 Nick, 07-10 Zim, 11 Morse, 12 ????I like them all. Especially the one in the batters box.July 24, 2012 11:46 PM

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 75 56 --
ATLANTA 68 64 7.5
MIAMI 65 66 10.0
NEW YORK 62 70 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 60 72 15.5
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:35 p.m.
THU: OFF
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.
Full season schedule

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ON THE RADIO

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MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
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