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Second verse, better than the first

Jul 25, 2012, 4:10 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Adam LaRoche watches his sixth-inning homer soar to right field.

NEW YORK — The major-league schedule is a quirky beast. The Nationals wrapped up their season series with the Reds on Mother’s Day, yet they won’t face the Cardinals for the first time until Labor Day weekend.

Then there are the Mets, who are about to conclude a nine-day stretch in which they play the Nationals six times. Which produced Tuesday night’s matchup between Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey, a showdown of All-Star hurlers that would have been noteworthy if not for the fact the two had just squared off five days earlier in Washington.

That encounter was won convincingly by the Mets, with Gonzalez putting forth his worst start of the season and the Nationals struggled to lump hits in bunches against Dickey.

Five days later, the Nationals turned the tables. They racked up five consecutive hits off Dickey in the top of the seventh, highlighted by Adam LaRoche’s second-deck homer. And Gonzalez authored perhaps his best start of the year, surrendering one unearned run and only two hits over seven brilliant innings to atone for his previous outing and lead the Nationals to a 5-2 victory.

“He was out there to prove something,” manager Davey Johnson said.
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  1. Unknown - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    Off topic to start with, but ….I was watching a documentary about Pete Rose last night and when he talked about playing high school ball, he said, "I wasn't even the best player on my high school team. We had a kid named Eddie Brinkman who was a great hitter and an outstanding pitcher."That was our Eddie, who I still think along with Kenny McMullen was the second best defensive shortstop/third base combo in the American League that year.Baltimore's Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger were a "little" better. Can't wait for tomorrow's game. Out here in Idaho, these games start just after 10:00 a.m., making for a fun morning.I predict the Nationals will go 91-71 this year and that John Lannan will play a part in winning the division. Farid @ Idaho

  2. Section 222 - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    91-71 Farid? That would be only 34-32 the rest of the way. Well, that should be good enough for a WC, if not the division title. Just think, 91-71 would have been considered wildly optimistic four or even three months ago.

  3. Section 222 - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:51 AM

    Not only are we close to matching the most games over .500 that this team has ever been. (50-31 on July 3, 2005 was the high water mark), but as of tomorrow, July 26, we will be in first place in the East on the latest date ever. On July 26, 2005, the Nats fell to 55-45, and fell out of first place, never to return. This is already a year to remember.

  4. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:42 AM

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  5. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

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  6. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    And a cruel mistress as well. No, wait. That's baseball. :-)"The major-league schedule is a quirky beast."Great start for Gio and another great win. On a broader note, was saying to my hubby the other day that I think it will get more difficult to pick out fave games. In the past, when we've made "top 10" lists of them, 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. :-)

  7. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Carrying forward another thought: 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? :-)

  8. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers???? Good luck with that, LA.

  9. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Fire sale in Miami. Wonder what it would take to get Josh Johnson?Miami Dead man walking.

  10. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Hamels stays at Philly for 140! Yikes. They may need to dump some salary..

  11. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Baseballswami is that a done deal? Not on ESPN's site yet?Who reported it?

  12. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    MLB. Com mobile 3:17 am timeline. Says Dodgers will announce Wednesday.

  13. Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Well, I can see the Phillies wanting to keep Cole Hamels but that is an absurd amount of money for a team that is already over extended with long term contracts to pay for a guy that could be toast on his next pitch. Look at the money they have tied up already with Paplebon, Howard, and Rollins.I think somebody bumped their head up there.

  14. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    That's what I thought – and six years? Can he keep up the way he is pitching for that long? Lee and Halladay would seem to show that the answer is no.

  15. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    No for Hamels?If the Phillies don't resign Hamels they will have to trade him and therefore concede the season. I hope Rizzo tries to get Johnson. I know it would take a lot but if the Nats can sign him to an extension they would have the best pitching staff in baseball period. I would take a rotation of Johnson, Gio, Stras, JZim and Det (need a lefty for balance) against any team in baseball.You could shut Stras down and go into a short series with Johnson, Gio, and JZim. Who has a better 3 than that? EJax or Det could come in if one of them gave up a run in the first 3 innings ;-) .

  16. djinFl. - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    @ FaridSo when did Brinkman loose his ability to hit. He was a great SS, but lord he could drive you nuts batting.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    If the Hamel's deal goes through as rumoured the Phillies would be paying out 136.7 million dollars for just of their 10 players in 2013. Starting to make Werth's pay look cheap.Ruben Amaro, you go, man!

  18. MicheleS - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    So Miami has waved the white flag and traded away hanley. Let's hope Hanley tanks the dodgers like he did the Marlins. Have a feeling this won'e be the last move the Marlins make.With The Phillies signing Hamels, they have locked up over $100M in payroll for like 4 guys per year. No, that won't stunt your team over the next serveral years. I heard they might trade Lee. Too Funny if that happens. What are they going to do with Howard's contract? The next big chip to fall will be Grienke – who pitched a heck of a game but the MIL bullpen blew up. I hope that bullpen is in a shambles this weekend!

  19. Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Fox, we can go into a short series with Gio, Zimm, EJax and Det and compete with anybody as long as the rest of the line up is intact and continues to hit.

  20. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Why does every team/manager keep thinking that they have the magical ability to turn Hanley Ramirez into a high-character, unselfish player? Maybe what you see actually IS what you get. You think he pimps now? Wait until he lives in LA.

  21. The Fox - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Joe Seamhead,You are correct but with Johnson, Gio and JZim we may not even have to hit. Johnson is an elite pitcher who can dominate a game. He is having an off year and that is the best time to buy. He is also 28 and 3 months younger than EJax. I'm very happy with our pitching staff but when I think about having Johnson with the rest of these guys I start to drool. It will probably never happen but just to think its possible is intriguing.Got to go to work.

  22. Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Swami, I'm just glad that he out of our division. So long, farewell…

  23. MicheleS - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Swami, the only thing that LA can be thinking is that Magic, Kemp, Ethier and Mattingly (most especialy him) will be able to keep Hanley in line. Mattingly doesn't strike me as a type that will put up with his attitude.Sadly, Look at the manager's and players that have surrounded Hanley in FL? Weak managers or short timers and the players always knew that Hanley was the man in Miami (because of Loria).

  24. fast eddie - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    djinFl.:Brinkman stopped hitting after high school. Over his entire MLB career, he hit .224 with .280 OBP. He lasted 15 years, based on his glove and arm.

  25. Gonat - Jul 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Four more wins to 22 above .500 and that 92-70 record, but why stop there!

  26. Theophilus T. S. - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Fans in Miami — what few there are — must be ready to drag Loria to Bimini by boat, troll for sharks. He stuffed the hotel-lobby-masquerading-as-a stadium down their throats, then gutted his team so they can watch Carlos Lee and his Castro-lovin' buffoon of a manager. Unless Stanton flirts w/ 60 HR next season they'll be able to use large sections of the stadium as a homeless shelter.

  27. peric - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Looks like Stan doesn't want the Nats to beat his team in the playoffs.

  28. fast eddie - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    With Gio's 13th win last night, he's on pace for 20.Assuming he gets 13 more starts (66 games remaining), goes 7-3 (his current W-L %), plus a couple of no-decisions.The last Senator/Nationals pitcher to win 20??–Bob Porterfield won 22 in 1953(I'm old but not that old)

  29. natsfan1a - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Good call, Joe. See ya, Hanley.

  30. sjm308 - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    When I will add one more Brinkman story – The year before Ted Williams became manager, Eddie hit a robust .187 & the year before it was .188. In fact in his first 7 seasons he hit UNDER .200 in 4 of them. This will also tell you 1. he was a really good defender to keep his job and 2. We were really really bad.Well, we get this new manager who knew a little about hitting and he decided to make Eddie one of his projects. BANG – .266 in 151 games (remember, they only played 154 back then) with 153 hits. Next year .262 and he was traded to Detroit where he went back to form with seasons of .228, 203, .237(he actually made the all-star team in 73 with that .237).OK – back to your regularly scheduled programming and thanks for the fishGo Nats!!

  31. Doc - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    In other news, maybe some of the Nats have learned how to hit R.A.'s knuckleball. Pass it on to Lombo and Harps! If Espi elected to hit it from the right side, it must have a tendency to break in, more than away.Send The Shark's bat to Cooperstown, give Eck a raise!

  32. A DC Wonk - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Theophilus T. S. said… Fans in Miami — what few there are — must be ready to drag Loria to Bimini by boat, troll for sharks.Impressive! How many baseball owners (besides Steinbrenner) are hated in _three_ cities? (Montreal, DC, and now Miami)

  33. Feel Wood - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Well, we get this new manager who knew a little about hitting and he decided to make Eddie one of his projects. BANG – .266 in 151 games (remember, they only played 154 back then)Actually, they started playing 162 the year the expansion Senators were formed, 1961. Remember the asterisk for Maris's 61 homers that year?

  34. NCNatsie - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    "How many baseball owners (besides Steinbrenner) are hated in _three_ cities?"Angelos.

  35. bowdenball - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Folks, the deal for Hamels is not a bad one. They're only on the hook through his age 34 season … the age that Lee and Halladay are now. They're getting his prime years at what is the going market rate. Yes, $20 million + a year is the market price for elite talent. The money is there thanks to the TV deals and the attendance boosts and how the cap on draft spending. Get ready for a lot more deals in this range. The Phils have made a lot of mistakes in the last two years rolling the dice on aging talent, but this is not one of them.

  36. NatsNut - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Lotta ground ball outs since Lannan's start. Is it me or does it seem like he injected a new perspective into our starters?Also, was there any specific commentary from announcers or writers on why Danny chose to hit Dickey from the right?Either way, switch hitters are just a really cool thing.

  37. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Yes, I think that our power arms are starting to see the value in the pedestrian ground ball out. Jordan already learned that strikeouts are fascist. I was hoping that the guys were watching Lannan mow people down with his lower mph. As to hitting Dickey? I think instead of moaning and groaning about it, since they have had to face him often, they have found some strategies that work. Bat from the right, lighter bat, get out in front. Kudos to them for creativity. I don't care whose ideas they were – kudos anyway. Danny tried it last week at the suggestion of one of the other players and it worked so he did it again last night with success. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that he hits balls that are up in the zone when he hits from the right and down when he hits from the left.Pass the news amound the dugout, boys.

  38. 704ee192-d59b-11e1-b06c-000bcdcb2996 - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Rangers reportedly going after josh Johnson

  39. Feel Wood - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Also, was there any specific commentary from announcers or writers on why Danny chose to hit Dickey from the right?It's not unheard of for switch hitters to do that against knuckleballers. Their right and left hand swings are usually different, and the knuckleball is a wacky pitch to start with. So they pick the side with the swing that seems like it would work better against it. Espi tried it against Dickey last week and it worked, so he did it again last night.

  40. kgwcoach - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Espi's right hand is dominant. As the top hand swinging from the right, he has more bat control in the hitting zone allowing him to adjust a little bit better to ball movement of an 80+ mph pitch. At 90+ you don't have time for minor changes. The dominant hand also affects whether you are more of a low ball or high ball hitter. Lefty Espi's a low ball hitter. Righty high ball.

  41. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Glad to see Hanley and happier to see Anibal (1.97 ERA against us)leave the division. On the other hand, Hamels (ERA 2.48) will be in our division for long time to teach everyone the "old school style". Not happy about it. He has started 22 games and 18 times Phillies have gone on to win the game.

  42. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    As someone here correctly pointed out to me, the Braves were 80-55 and went on a skid and missed the post season. Still seems unbelievable that the Braves fell apart

  43. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    sjm308 said…When I will add one more Brinkman story – The year before Ted Williams became manager, Eddie hit a robust .187 & the year before it was .188. In fact in his first 7 seasons he hit UNDER .200 in 4 of them. This will also tell you 1. he was a really good defender to keep his job and 2. We were really really bad.Well, we get this new manager who knew a little about hitting and he decided to make Eddie one of his projects. BANG – .266 in 151 games (remember, they only played 154 back then) with 153 hits. Next year .262 and he was traded to Detroit where he went back to form with seasons of .228, 203, .237(he actually made the all-star team in 73 with that .237).great story but Senators played 162 and finished 86-76.

  44. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    I feel that the Braves have that in their minds all the time. When you play them you have to understand that.They are going to play all out. They might have some pitching problems right now, but you aren't going to catch them having a fire sale. They will be right there this entire season.

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Section 222 said… 91-71 Farid? That would be only 34-32 the rest of the way. Well, that should be good enough for a WC, if not the division title. Just think, 91-71 would have been considered wildly optimistic four or even three months ago. July 25, 2012 1:33 AM I read Gonat saying 92-70 and all I have to say is keep pushing for W's as 92 wins will absolutely get you into the playoffs and could be the number that wins the division but with the new format the goal has to be to win the Division outright.

  46. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    actually, it was Brinkman, Aurillio Rodrigues and Joe Coleman who propelled the 1972 Tigers to win the AL East. Brinkman and Aurelio were the best left side of the infield in baseball that year and Coleman won 20 games. remember, Billy Martin was manager, lol

  47. baseballswami - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I love how the Nats are going about their business this week, out of the fray. This has been a crazy, musical chairs kind of week with big name players changing teams. Ichiro? Braves waiting for Dempster to decide, Hanley. I hope they continue to play with their low-key, but quietly intense and determined way and tune out everything else.

  48. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    sjmI have a 1970 baseball card of Williams and Brinkman, the caption read "Ted Shows How"

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… Glad to see Hanley and happier to see Anibal (1.97 ERA against us)leave the division. On the other hand, Hamels (ERA 2.48) will be in our division for long time to teach everyone the "old school style". Not happy about it. He has started 22 games and 18 times Phillies have gone on to win the gameThe Nats are a different team now. Tim Hudson had "ownage" of the Nats and now the Nats seem to have his number. The reason is the Nats are now a legit team and Davey has them believing in themselves. On paper, last night's matchup would have seemed like a L and the Nats came away with a W.The bizarre part of last nights game is the assist to Mark DeRosa. DRo suggested to Bernadina a couple of weeks ago to go with a lighter bat. Bernadina tried it out and it worked. LaRoche's HR happened after the guys suggested he should use a lighter bat against Dickey and it worked. Assist to DRo.

  50. DaveB - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    I have to believe that when Bryce stole third with Hanley standing around chatting, it was one of the final straws that made Miami finally willing to get rid of him. Hope Hanley doesn't get hot at playoff time, as I think LA could be tough for us if Kemp is healthy, but good to see him gone from the division (and I don't think he will help LA much long term).

  51. Tcostant - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    The Braves GM stated they are out on Dempster so that means Grienke is back in play for them. Yuck!

  52. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Tcostant said…The Braves GM stated they are out on Dempster so that means Grienke is back in play for them. Yuck!good point… Greienke would definitely be a better pick up and if the contract is long term it helps the Braves long term as well as short term

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    By the way, Davey called Ecksteen (as he pronounced it) the best hitting coach in the Majors.Ever since the Colorado series and that Cortisone shot things have changed quickly.

  54. Ron In Reston - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Ok, a quick update to the list I posted yesterday afternoon on who not to pitch to:NY Mets – Jordany Valdespin – when pinch-hittingThe guy could challenge Ruth and Aaron if all he did was pinch-hit ;)

  55. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Tcostant said… The Braves GM stated they are out on Dempster so that means Grienke is back in play for them. Yuck! July 25, 2012 10:32 AM I think Texas will get Greinke but if Atlanta gets him my guess is it will be a short-term rental and Greinke will test Free Agency.The Nats just have to continue winning and not worry about "who got who".

  56. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Steve M, while you are right about Nats being a completely different team, they have still struggled to score runs off of hamels and even sanchez. hopefully that will change soon, like how we changed trend against dickey.someone mentioned johnson as a trade upgrade for us. I like the idea but I don't think he will come cheap, especially when rangers are likely to include mike olt in their deal.

  57. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Ghost… agreed, i hope your right

  58. mick - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    I oppose any trade for another hitter as it could disrupt the chemistry not just on the field but the club house. If there is trade, only a pitcher without an ego.

  59. peric - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Wow everyone must hate early games? No lineups. No mlb.com setups. 20 minutes to game time right?

  60. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/07/zack-greinke-rumors-wednesday.htmlPlenty of teams swirling around Greinke. Then there is also Liriano, Johnson, and Dempster.Dempster makes a lot of sense to the Nats with his Veteran leadership even though management says no short-term rentals.I know the Nats have been linked to Liriano in the past and his inconsistency makes him a bigger gamble.

  61. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    peric said… Wow everyone must hate early games? No lineups. No mlb.com setups. 20 minutes to game time right? July 25, 2012 10:50 AM 1 hour 20 minutes to 1st pitch.

  62. Tcostant - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Liriano is a head case – stay away!!! Let's stand pat. short of a backup MI or C on the cheap.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… Steve M, while you are right about Nats being a completely different team, they have still struggled to score runs off of hamels and even sanchez. hopefully that will change soon, like how we changed trend against dickey.someone mentioned johnson as a trade upgrade for us. I like the idea but I don't think he will come cheap, especially when rangers are likely to include mike olt in their deal. July 25, 2012 10:45 AMDoubt Marlins would trade Johnson within the division.On Hamels, the current Nats hit him decent although everyone has small sample sizes except Zim and LaRoche who have faced him over 20+ times.Against Colbert, Bryce has a 1.292 OPS and LaRoche has a 1.023 OPS and Zim has a .758 OPS and Morse a .750. New players and a different mindset plus head-to-head against JZim, Gio and Stras and it could be a pitchers duel.

  64. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    WOW we have better OPS numbers against Hamels than I thought. also no doubt that our pitchers can match him pitch for pitch. but it has not really translated in box scores. in two starts, no one has an RBI against him. Only run scored was due to Harper stealing home.also while your data on LaRoche is correct. Last time he homered off of Cole was in 2010 and since he is 0 for 7. similarly morse is actually 3 for 12 against Hamels. zimmerman's numbers look respectable against him. that's all.anyways, I think I trust our Nats to figure him out over time.Marlins aren't necessarily afraid of trading within division. hammer, uggla are prime examples. imagine johnson along with ss, jz, and gio next season. we may not need a fifth pitcher.

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