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Must-win game tonight?

Aug 28, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

There really are no such thing as "must-win" games in baseball, at least not until a team is one loss from elimination. So a late-August date in Miami probably shouldn't be viewed as do-or-die for the Nationals.

Having said that, the Nationals face as close to a must-win situation tonight as you're likely to find in this sport. Losers of four straight, they head to rainy South Florida for a two-game series with the last-place Marlins desperately needing to get back on track before this slump really turns into something of consequence.

The Nationals' cause was helped somewhat by the Braves, who late last night were shut out 3-0 in the opener of their three-game series in San Diego. Thus, Washington's lead in the NL East is back to five games after it slipped to 4 1/2 over the weekend.

Still, the Nationals can't just count on maintaining a comfortable lead via losses by their lone remaining challenger for the division crown. They're going to need to win their share of games as well, and whatRead more »

119 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. UNTERP - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Suffice it to say the Nationals have been in a bit of a lull, though a lull against a good Phillies team. Halladay and Lee are not a couple of sieves and the rest of the Phillies are pretty good too. I don't think the injuries to Desmond and Morse had as much to do with them losing four in a row as much as it is a long season. I think they play 162 games. They did lose 5 in a row back in April, remember? The best thing to happen to the Nationals was this four game losing streak now. With their vacation behind them they can get back to work come tonight. If anyone thought the Nationals would skate to the postseason you were being unrealistic. This is a grind, not a leisurely stroll. You cannot grow without conflict. You cannot win without defeat. And you cannot be a champion without challenge…

  2. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Thank Heaven! There is a game tonight!

  3. Tim - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    I take exception to the idea that this is the Nationals' first taste of adversity.Morse out for two monthsZim out for awhileWerth broken wristStoren out most of the yearDeRosa out most of the yearTracy out for a monthand yet this team has been resilient. It bounces back. Someone steps up.Don't press boys. Just get angry. Get an edge.Beat the Fish. (Note to Nats' pitchers: Don't pitch to Stanton. 8HRs in last 11 games.)

  4. Doc - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Correctomundo Tim!These guys were winning with their 3,4, and 5 hitters watching MLB re-runs. I mean, how totally remarkable was that??If the piching can maintain, we're OK! Time for Harps to be a big boy. Tinkerbell is back at it and Christian Garcia is waitin' by the call-up phone.

  5. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:01 PM

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  6. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Well said, Unterp and Tim.Also, I shall look forward to the prospect of the Phils taking it to the Bravos this weekend (yeah, pennant races make for strange fan fellows). For now, it's go Padres. :-)

  7. Natslifer - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Mark – I love ya but this whole "must win" thing is what reporters write about. Experienced coaches (certainly Davey) and players take Tim's perspective – this isn't "must win", it's just another game where we're better than the other team and we need to play like we can and beat 'em. Phils were a "trap" series coming off the emotional Brave series and now it's back to business. The only thing that lingers in my mind is Harper – he's taking up too much mental space on the team – unclear if that can be solved or made worse by sitting him.Go Nats!

  8. Will - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Tim, good points, though I take exception to DeRosa's absence creating adversity. I'd say it was quite the opposite! Especially as it gave guys like Bernadina and Moore more chances to show they're better than the .212/.306/.261 batter that DeRosa has been over the past 3 seasons.

  9. ehay2k - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    This is a must win game for the Nats in terms of stopping their losing streak at 4. Other than that, it's another of 162 (161 in 2011) games.

  10. derwink - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    IIt is a long haul. Perhaps the four game losing streak was what they needed, a little kick in the butt for the stretch run.Didn't they turn on the sprinklers and soak the field in Bull Durham to get a day off? A mental health day is hopefully what the doctor ordered.

  11. Gonat - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Thank you Padres for the win last night.

  12. JamesFan - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Tonight is not must win, but you don't want to be in a slump going into the Cards and Dodger series. Stanton is red hot and should not get a strike from any Nats pitcher this week. If they pitch around Stanton and keep Reyes off base, we'll be fine.

  13. Gonat - Aug 28, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Morse out for two months______________________________I would say much longer than 2 months as his Spring Training was like doing it in the starting lineup.

  14. ehay2k - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Amen Gonat. Nats lose four straight and Barves only pick up a couple of games. That's baseball, although Barves fans are probably up in arms.

  15. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Speaking of the Bulls.

  16. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Oh, my. That didn't end well for Rodriguez. Next time, go for the batting helmets. Or not. :-)

  17. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:59 PM

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  18. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM

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  19. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:01 PM

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  20. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

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  21. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Actually, Mark posed it as a question and I agree, it's not a "must" win but certainly a "needed" win. Remember, "You Can't Always Get What You Want, But If You Try Sometimes, You Get What You Need."The only problem is that I don't get the Nats broadcast and am stuck with the Marlins guys but at least they spend most of their time pointing out how the Nats have improved and the Marlins have regressed.

  22. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Here we go.

  23. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    ^ non-broken link

  24. fast eddie - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Not only has Strasburg dominated the Fish since last year (3-0, 0.30 ERA), but Nolasco has a 5.07 ERA this year. (6.00 in last three starts).Not a "must win" game, but it shapes up well for us.

  25. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    What, me worry?It's the Barves behind us, not the 1927 Yankees. I'm sticking to my prediction the Barves will not make the playoffs. Why? They're not a very good team. Shut out by San Diego last night. True, the Padres are hot right now. But the Barves barf whenever they have a chance to pick up a game here and there. I think SF/LA and Pittsburgh will be the wild cards. Wait 'till September the Barves start having flashbacks from the 2011 September el foldo.GYFNG!!

  26. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    I'd give Stanton four intentional walks tonight, and see how that works.

  27. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Hopefully this isn't relevant for the Nats, but Karabell and Marc Simon brought up an interesting curiosity about the playoffs. You can reset the roster for each level.Everyone assumes you would use your Ace for the one -gamer, and then he would not be available for Game 1 + Game 4 or 5 of the Divisional Series. But you could have a "bullpen" game (or use your Ace for only a couple of innings), and stack up on hitters. Example, carry 1 starter, 6 relievers, and 18 hitters for that one game, and then re-align the roster the day after.

  28. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    I'd like to see Pittsburgh make it, because I'm a big McCutchen fan, but they just released Bedard, whose been the epitome of hot and cold this season. Now, couldn’t Bedard have gone on the DL? I remember he left in the first inning against us in May (back spasms). He probably is sorta injured, at least enough that a trainer could put him on the DL if Bedard wanted to take his chances with the Pirates (meaning, hope for a replacement roster spot on a playoff team). He’d rather take his chances that someone will pick up a “marginal” lefty for a spot start or two, and maybe get to the playoffs that way. Bedard bailing is not a good sign, I would say.

  29. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    whose ==> who's

  30. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I think this is a must-win series. You've got to beat the snot out of teams like the Marlins and Mets (eight total games) if you're looking forward to 19 games against the Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers and Phillies out of the next, what, 32? after the three in Miami. Not to mention four against the Brewers, against whom the Nats have been less than stellar. Anyone who thinks this series isn't critical has a short memory — think "2011 Braves."

  31. SCNatsFan - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Get over the slump please! I'm headed to Nats park for the first time this weekend to see the set against the Cards, I want to see some wins and some offense! Outside of watching the Nats kick butt anything in particular cool in the stadium I should see, do or eat?

  32. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Sunshine, nope, not gonna happen. Stras would punch Davey in the face–and so would Drew. These guys live to challenge top hitters, see, for example, Wright, David. Dobbs (lefty-hitter) is no slouch behind Stanton. You don't give away bases–and Stanton can steal, though he doesn't do it much. So, even though Dobbs is not a big HR guy, it would lead to big innings.It was one thing to pitch around Votto when Rolen was hitting like .138 behind him. Have to be a little more careful with a .309 hitter behind Stanton.

  33. blovy8 - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    My guess is the Pirates needed his spot on the 25 man roster for a better player, looking toward the playoffs. They can get someone active before the 8/31 deadline this way.

  34. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    It's two in Miami.

  35. blovy8 - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Strasburg has good enough stuff to get anyone out. I can almost guarantee Stanton will see fastball strikes in his first atbat.

  36. blovy8 - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Momentum lasts one game. Of course, you don't want a bunch of hitters who aren't seeing the ball well, or having bad atbats either.

  37. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    blovy8–could be. They haven't announced the roster move yet. Apparently Correia will come back out of the bullpen to take Bedard's rotation spot. Not likely to inspire confidence…

  38. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    From last night's report:Wang was hammered for six runs on nine hits and a walk over five innings and struck out three. He also gave up his fifth HR in eight starts with the Senators. Of course you don't know if the hits would have ben hits against ML defense… but still doesn't sound good.

  39. pRAA with the ISO - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Outside of watching the Nats kick butt anything in particular cool in the stadium I should see, do or eat?Strasburger. Betcha can't eat just one.

  40. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    The Nats deal in the MASN dispute isn't done but all MLB owners today got news that they are richer going forward as ESPN just re-upped an 8 year deal for $5.6 billion.Each team's share increases approximately $11.467 million from this blockbuster deal. ESPN now can compete with the MLB Network with live look-ins into games and will also get the rights to air 1 Wild Card game.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    With all the crap last week in the media of the Monday night attendance for the Nats of 21,298 I flipped on the AngelO's last night to hear an echo. No rain in the forecast, no rain delay, beautiful night. Camden Yards looked empty.Paid attendance against a potential playoff team Chicago White Sox was 10,995.Do you think anyone in Media will mention it? Will Dan Steinberg and his BOG mention it. I've heard of crowds at shopping malls exceeding the real crowd last night that may have been closer to 5,000.

  42. The Fox - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    We're in the moneyCome on, my honeyLet's spend it, lend it,Send it rolling around! As Yogi Berra said,Tonight is a must win game and if we don't win tomorrow is REALLY a must win game.

  43. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Attendance last night in the Yard for the O's to face CWS in a game with definite playoff implications: 10,995. I know, Monday night, school night, etc.

  44. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    ooops, Ghost. Same thought.

  45. pRAA with the ISO - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    No, it's not a must-win game tonight. But it is a must-stop-playing-like-losers game.

  46. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    NatsLady, does that mean you owe me a Coke and a smile? I'm curious to see if the B/W media mentions the O's woes. The Nats biggest excuse for 21,000 was poor weather and kids back to school. From what I understand it was perfect weather last night. No excuse.

  47. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    The reality is… its a new day, imagine how people in the gulf coast are feeling, Braves lost, we are 5 up and life is good. If you glance at the rest of MLB, you can't ask for more excitement (I confess I watched the O's last night), MLB could not have imagine the excitement of the playoff races!

  48. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    The Fox said…We're in the moneyCome on, my honeyLet's spend it, lend it,Send it rolling around! As Yogi Berra said,Tonight is a must win game and if we don't win tomorrow is REALLY a must win game.you made my day, lolwhy were at Yogisms:If you come to a fork in the road, take it

  49. blovy8 - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Nobody goes to Nats' games anymore, it's too crowded.

  50. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    blovy8, lolololo

  51. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    mick… I watched a couple of innings of the Birds game last nite and it looked an awful lot like a game at Tropicana Field in Tampa except the crowd was smaller.

  52. A DC Wonk - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Braves lost, we are 5 up and life is goodAnd we're up _six_ games in the loss column.Tangent: can you imagine what would happen to a person if they had walked up to, say, Bob Gibson and said, "hey, walk Hank Aaron every time he comes up." . . . .

  53. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Natsjack, you are right. Glancing at the most recent attendance figures, we are 14th and have drawn 1.7 million fans, O's are 23 drawing 1.6 million. The only thing I can think of is perhaps bad weather (which it has been in Baltimore), Monday night, first day of school.Still, 10,000 is very disappointing and one has to wonder how much damage Angelos has done to the morale of the fans since 1998.

  54. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Mick & Fox, a new video on Yogi-isms as discussed by these young ladies:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOmuDvGrGbQ

  55. pRAA with the ISO - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    The Nats biggest excuse for 21,000 was poor weather and kids back to school. From what I understand it was perfect weather last night. No excuse.Apparently they have some cones set up on the streets getting ready for the Baltimore Gran Prix that's going to be run through downtown this weekend. Several times on last night's MASN broadcast the announcers talked about how there is no problem getting into or out of the ballpark for this week's games because of that, so come on down.If it was DC, the media would be all over the Lerners for not paying the city to shut down the Gran Prix.

  56. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    DC wonk….. very good point, Bob Gibson was one of those guys that could give you look and you know what he was thinking without ever uttering a word, lol

  57. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Ghost: THANK YOU!!!!

  58. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    As I have said at least 5 times this season, it's not WHO you are playing, it's HOW you are playing and the Nats need to start playing better if they want to get past these Fish.

  59. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Ghost, just watched the video and let me just say while the wife is away, I like the Marlins and the Twins, lol

  60. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    natsjack… for that fact its any team, you have to bring your A game no matter what, the Nats need to begin doing that again, tonight.

  61. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    mick said… Natsjack, you are right. Glancing at the most recent attendance figures, we are 14th and have drawn 1.7 million fans, O's are 23 drawing 1.6 million. The only thing I can think of is perhaps bad weather (which it has been in Baltimore), Monday night, first day of school.Still, 10,000 is very disappointing and one has to wonder how much damage Angelos has done to the morale of the fans since 1998. August 28, 2012 10:48 AM Mick, I believe Angelos took over the team in 1993 The Orioles brought in new brains to run their marketing and they have done an excellent job.This is the 20th Anniversary of Camden Yards which was the centerpiece of their marketing efforts this year. They did statues of all 6 retired O's numbers: Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray so far with Cal and Brooks Robinson in September. All 6 games were sold-out mostly because each fan gets a bronzed replica sculpture. Those sculptures are a hit on eBay so the vultures have scooped up extra tickets just to get more sculptures resulting in sell-outs.They have also created 10 additional giveaway games which seem to boost attendance which appears to be popular in their marketplace and then they have the built-in 18 games per year against the Yankees and Red Sox and their stadium was a complete sell-out for 3 games vs the Phillies in inter-league.

  62. A DC Wonk - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    pRAA with the ISO said… If it was DC, the media would be all over the Lerners for not paying the city to shut down the Gran Prix.Angelos other nickname, "Grand Prix"

  64. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    mick said… Ghost, just watched the video and let me just say while the wife is away, I like the Marlins and the Twins, lol August 28, 2012 10:54 AM Mick, just educational for me. I liked the discussion.

  65. peric - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Morse out for two monthsZim out for awhileWerth broken wristStoren out most of the yearDeRosa out most of the yearTracy out for a monthBottom line: Its really been the rookies and youngest major league prospects that have led the way to this record. NOT the veterans. And they are going to go through fits and sputters as they develop and become experienced at the pro level. This season is not about the veterans on this squad its about player development and the finishing school. And Harper is doing just fine thank you very much.

  66. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Ghost, you a right, I say 1998, because that is when that IDIOT began destroying the club, after the 1997 season. In fairness to this horse ass, he stayed out of the O's business from 1993-1997.

  67. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Ghost… I liked the discussion too, lol

  68. A DC Wonk - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    San Diego wins at the best times . . .I recall back at the end of 2008 when I committed heresy, and rooted for the Padres to beat the Nats at the end of the seaon, so that the Nats would win the Strasburg-sweepstakes.At the end of Sept 19, 2008, the Nats and Padres each had 95 losses, and Seattle had 96 losses.The Padres came into town, and swept the Nats.That took the Padres out of contention.As the last series of the season began: the Nats had 99 losses and Seattle had 101 losses. It looked hopeless. I was a frustrated fan, thinking: I can't believe we're going to lose 100 games and end up with the second pick and not the first!Then, miracle of miracles: the Phils swept the Nats, giving the Nats 102 losses, and the last-place-miserable Seattle Mariners swept(!!!) the Oakland A's, keeping Seattle at 101.(The Phils didn't need all those wins … they were 2 games up in first place at the beginning of the last day of the season).Nats get the first pick in the draft — and pick Strasburg.Thank you Padres. And thanks again for beating the Braves last night (which is a start towards making up for losing to the Braves 3-of-4 two weeks ago) (And we can always needle Phils fans, too, that they helped us get Strasburg).

  69. Rich - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    The margin between winning and losing can come down to who makes less mistakes. Everyone has cut Harper a lot of slack due to his hustle but he does not play good fundamental baseball, whether it is making ill advised throws to ill advised baserunning. I am tired of the announcers(homers) letting him off the hook due to his youth and inexperience. Seems to me we learned to hit the cutoff man in Little League. I appreciate Harper but in a playoff game I have this feeling he is going to do something costly to the team.

  70. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    mick said… Ghost, you a right, I say 1998, because that is when that IDIOT began destroying the club, after the 1997 season. In fairness to this horse ass, he stayed out of the O's business from 1993-1997. August 28, 2012 11:03 AM Davey Johnson and Jon Miller disagree with you. Lets face it, he took over a winning team with a great heritage and the best "new" ballpark in baseball that was sold out every game.In 1995, he had Cal Ripken's streak but shortly after that the real problems starting rising to the surface and you could spell it all A-N-G-E-L-O-S

  71. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    mick said… Ghost… I liked the discussion too, lol August 28, 2012 11:05 AM There was a magazine I read as an older teenager strictly for the articles too, LOL

  72. mick - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Ghost… your mostly correct, however, he did allow for the signings of Raffy in 1993 and Alomar in 96?my god, am I defending Angelos, lol

  73. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Nice article on Tommy Milone and his change-up–best in the AL.concerning-tom-milones-changehttp://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/daily-notes-largely-concerning-tom-milones-change/

  74. peric - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Giggleman's Island reviewed as a really horrid rerun.Ladson and Werth rip Riggleman but not Eckstein

  75. JD - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Rich, Get used to it. Young players make mistakes but at the end of the day you can't beat talent and Harper has the talent to be a top 3 player in baseball so you live with the mistakes as long he plays hard every day.

  76. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Rich said… The margin between winning and losing can come down to who makes less mistakes. Everyone has cut Harper a lot of slack due to his hustle but he does not play good fundamental baseball, whether it is making ill advised throws to ill advised baserunning. I am tired of the announcers(homers) letting him off the hook due to his youth and inexperience. Seems to me we learned to hit the cutoff man in Little League. I appreciate Harper but in a playoff game I have this feeling he is going to do something costly to the team. August 28, 2012 11:07 AM Rich, you bring up some good points. To take it a step further, is Bryce performing above "replacement" right now. I am thinking Davey's latest heartburn is about Harp. At-bats that look like "A" ball quality and breaks on balls and routes that eerily remind me of Nyjer including the occasional missed cut-off man.I said it yesterday that I believe he was yanked on Sunday because of the Cliff Lee double. Something tells me he ignored his coaches moving him back and slightly more towards CF. I don't know anything for sure, just a hunch.

  77. peric - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Ghost… your mostly correct, however, he did allow for the signings of Raffy in 1993 and Alomar in 96?my god, am I defending Angelos, lolHis sons probably recommended it.

  78. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Sadly, all signs point to "no."Do you think anyone in Media will mention it? Will Dan Steinberg and his BOG mention it.

  79. JD - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Peric, Everyone knows your point of view regarding veterans vs. young players. 1) your posts are redundant. 2) This team is no where without the contributions of LaRoche,Desmond and yes even Jayson Werth. The bottom line is that in order to win you require contributions from young talent as well as experienced veterans.

  80. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Ghost.ESPN has baseball? Who knew, I thought they only had football.;-)

  81. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    YogismsI always liked, "You can observe a lot just by watching." :-)

  82. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Well, their baseball *is* mostly about two teams. :-)ESPN has baseball? Who knew, I thought they only had football.

  83. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    JD, good teams almost always win with Veterans and an infusion of a new rookie or new player. Sometimes its an Xfactor player.Giants with Posey the rookie and then Cody Ross and their over-the-top closer. The Cardinals a few years back with David Eckstein and this time with David Frese and Lance Berkman. I think Bryce Harper overall has helped this team and unfortunately since the All Star game has been in a funk. His youthful energy has been a plus but smashing up helmets after being pulled by his Manager probably is more than a Kangaroo Court fine.Just sayin'

  84. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Ghost.. don't forget the Mid 90's yankees. Had young ones plus Paul O'Nell and Scott Brosius and a couple of older vets on the bench.

  85. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    MicheleS said… Ghost.ESPN has baseball? Who knew, I thought they only had football.;-) August 28, 2012 11:24 AM Great point even with a little tongue in cheek because that's what they became as MLB Network has kicked their butt. ESPN had to pay up to get back to an even playing field. I had no idea ESPN couldn't show "live" shots on their broadcast. No wonder why their baseball coverage dropped off so much. I'm a late night baseball guy and like that Baseball Tonight comes on late as MLB Network is doing re-runs of their Quick Pitch show. Curious to see if Baseball Tonight gets full night coverage on ESPN2 to compete with MLB Network and any original baseball shows to rival "Intentional Talk"

  86. JaneB - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    NatsLady, thanks for the link to the piece on Tom Milone. I liked the info and the format, too. Milone was the one I was moaning to the heavens about losing. But I am happy about Gio now. And glad for Tom.My favorite Yogism: "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

  87. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    MicheleS said… Ghost.. don't forget the Mid 90's yankees. Had young ones plus Paul O'Nell and Scott Brosius and a couple of older vets on the bench. August 28, 2012 11:33 AM No doubt. There was a time in the 90's when the Yankees actually did "home grow" some players although Pauly and Scotty were both via trades.

  88. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    natsfan1a said… Sadly, all signs point to "no."Do you think anyone in Media will mention it? Will Dan Steinberg and his BOG mention it.August 28, 2012 11:22 AM Good one!

  89. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Time warp back to 2004:What most everyone from the Orioles knew yesterday is that Major League Baseball owners are meeting in Philadelphia this week to discuss, among other topics, whether to move the Montreal Expos to the Washington area or somewhere else. Orioles owner Peter Angelos says the D.C. market is part of his team's territory, and that the region can't support two teams.

  90. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    GhostI think this just goes to show Angelos that a good chunk of his Fan base was in fact from Virginia.

  91. Laddie Blah Blah - Aug 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    The only team that can put the Nats in a "must-win" situation is the Nats, and they can only do that by losing. The object is to put the other team in a "must-win" situation, and the best way to do that is by winning.Either way, they must win if they want to be the NL East champs. No one is going to hand it to them.I have a good cyber friend from Oakland, and we are both hoping for a Nats – A's WS, with Gio matching up against Milone in game 7. How cool would that be?

  92. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Laddie, Nats – A's World Series without Strasburg. I think I just heard the Prez of Fox Sports gasping for air.

  93. Laddie Blah Blah - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Ghost – LOL.Won't happen, but I like to humor him. They may be more used to losing than we are.

  94. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    MicheleS said… GhostI think this just goes to show Angelos that a good chunk of his Fan base was in fact from Virginia. August 28, 2012 11:57 AM Fairfax and Montgomery County in Maryland and even Frederick County Maryland for sure and probably a few even further down i95 that would make the drive. Unfortunately I have a friend in Arlington who still has season tix up there and sporting the orange shirt.

  95. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    But a Nats – Rays WS would send everybody screaming and that could happen.

  96. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    MicheleS, the O's probably picked up a few more Northern Virginia fans when they just got Joe Saunders who grew up in Fairfax County.Also, the Orioles AAA affiliate is in Norfolk Virginia which helps in their fanbase just like the Nats having their AA affiliate in Harrisburg PA.

  97. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    So–Angelos might have been correct that the area would have difficulty supporting two ML teams? How does that bode for Oakland tryin' ta get to San Jose?

  98. A DC Wonk - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    I am tired of the announcers(homers) letting him off the hook due to his youth and inexperience. Seems to me we learned to hit the cutoff man in Little League.I doubt it. He's been a catcher his whole life until two years ago, remember?Something tells me he ignored his coaches moving him back and slightly more towards CF. I don't know anything for sure, just a hunch. I doubt that, too. Lee is a _pitcher_. JZ throws mid-90's fastballs. CF always plays a bit in and to the opposite field against a weak-hitting sub-.200 batter.

  99. Laddie Blah Blah - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    "But a Nats – Rays WS would send everybody screaming and that could happen."Yeah. The Rays are peaking at the right time, and I would rather we face the Yankees than them. Without Stras, our SP will not be as dominant as theirs. We would have to beat them with offense and superior D, and a little luck.

  100. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    It is time to get on a roll again

  101. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Ghost. I think Saunder's Uncle was a parish priest in Sterling, so I am sure they may have gotten a couple of fans out of that.

  102. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    NatsJack, I hope for a Ray-Nats WS. My mom would have about 10 additinal houseguests in Tampa and she would love to see her grand kids! (barring of course, the knucklehead nephew doesn't get grounded for life again)

  103. Unknown - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    If Strasburg doesn't turn the ship around tonight, then look out below!

  104. John C. - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Harper was not benched for not getting to Lee's double. Harper was playing right where he should have been – you don't play a .188 hitting pitcher with little power deep, you play shallow and not to pull. You'll take away six weak hits/floaters in front of you for every ball that gets hit over your head. Unfortunately, Lee squared up a fastball and smoked it. Harper had no chance at that ball – a better route would have merely gotten him closer to where it landed, but the ultimate impact on results was nil.Harper was double switched because he was the last OF to bat prior to the pitchers' spot coming up, and with a short bench (because Morse and Desmond were unavailable) Davey had very little choice but to switch out Harper. He went through that in his postgame conference.

  105. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Good to be back on East coast. Missed lot of baseball info, especially that big trade and Nats slump.Hope to see them back to winning ways.

  106. rabbit34 - Aug 28, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Miami will just throw some rookie pitcher at us and he'll look like Cy Young. WE NEED BATS!

  107. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    I think Atlanta is going through a lot of the same things we are going through, except they are five games behind. There was a streak where seemed like neither team could lose.Now you have Chipper out of games (because "I'm old), their offense slumbering and their rotation, though still good, showing signs of wear. They are banged up and tired and on a long road trip. Fredi's being very careful with the bullpen (as he should). Bear in mind that the Nats recently are home for exactly 6 games of 21, including that 10-game trip West and an extra day in Philly rather than in Florida where they could meet up with family and friends. It's got to wear on you. Starting Thursday, you have 21 home games vs. 12 away games… Even though the Nats have been excellent on the road, it's better to be at home.Rays-Nats WS? Davey against the Weird Wuss guru over there? LOL.

  108. MicheleS - Aug 28, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    If this has already been posted, sorry,Interesting Verducci articlePrior

  109. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    MicheleS, thanks for the link. The PED's section was interesting, especially. I will be following Sale's career with interest. He pitched 71 ML innings last year and is at 153 so far this year (he's 23). Sox don't plan on shutting him down, they are using the "eye test."He's gone over 100 pitches his last 5 games, though not over 120. I don't think he had TJ.

  110. natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Speaking of the MASN dispute, there was evidently an update here on August 15 – around the time of the most recent resolution deadline, ahem – but you need to have a subscription (which I do not) to read the article.

  111. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 28, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    How many games out of ten does a 97-game winner lose? To win 97 games in a season generally will get you the division; it certainly will put you in the play-offs.The answer is 4.A baseball fan who closely follows his team has issues that fans in other sports don't have. You want to care about your team and you want to follow the games closely, but at the same time, you have to always tell yourself that "no, this game doesn't mean blank."I can real off many disappointing games this year. We had Henry Rodriguez blow-ups against the Reds and Dodgers, where he basically gave away games. We had the poor guy Lidge who blew a tough game and then seemed generally surprised when he got kicked off the team–still leading the Nats in FIPS by the way. We had a tough blown save against the O's after Detwiler pitched so well, and against the Rockies after Zimmerman pitched so well. We had a 9 run lead that we blew against the Braves, and those games are just for a start.We have probably had just as many go the other way, like the wild Sunday comeback in Milwaukee. The O's have won 13 one run games in a row, which is hiding the fact that as in 2005, with the Nats, Baltimore really isn't all that good.It doesn't matter if the Nationals win tonight or not, as long as they keep playing near .600 ball, and despite our attempts to ascribe mystical importance to the random happenings on a baseball game, they rarely are any. Just enjoy the ride.

  112. Cwj - Aug 28, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    I doubt Strasburg will intentionally walk Stanton, or anybody.Career Intentional Walks: 1He loves the challenge of pitching to the games' dangerous hitters.

  113. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 28, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    "It doesn't matter if the Nationals win tonight or not, as long as they keep playing near .600 ball . . .."Kinda hard to play .600 ball if you keep losing. Sooner or later, it's a must win game. And when you're playing the weak sisters, that's the game you have to win.

  114. bowdenball - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    rabbit34 said…"Miami will just throw some rookie pitcher at us and he'll look like Cy Young. WE NEED BATS!"I hear people say this a lot. It's just not true. The 2012 Nats beat up inexperienced pitchers all the time. In just the last month they've beaten up Brad Hand, Wade Miley, Jeremy Hefner and Dallas Keuchel. They handled Lucas Harrell just fine. The only rookie that give them trouble recently is Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Fiers.This reminds me of the thing about Zimmermann never getting run support. People decide what the narrative is, and don't bother to check to see if the facts continue to support it. The Nats have hit young pitchers very well this year. And Jordan Zimmermann is in the top half of the NL in run support this year.

  115. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Harper was playing in the correct position. Odds were Lee would hit in front of him. He wanted to be in position to either stop a hit or throw the fellow out at home if it was a hit.

  116. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    New narrative. It's Edwin Jackson who doesn't get run support. ;)

  117. John C. - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Although it's been better than last year, Jordan still has not consistently gotten run support. Of his 26 starts, the Nationals have scored 3 or fewer runs in 13. It's been better lately – the Nationals scored 4 or more runs only twice in his first 10 starts! What has inflated Jordan's overall run support is that most of it was dropped into three games – 11 runs in Colorado (6/27), 10 runs against Miami (8/22) and 9 runs against SF (7/3). So 26.5% (30/113) of Jordan's run support has come in just 11.5% of his starts. So Jordan is "guilty" of inefficiently allocating his run support ;)

  118. JD - Aug 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    NL, First of all I don't buy the nonsense that one pitcher gets more run support than another; it's a transient stat and is basically irrelevant especially if you don't worry about individual wins and loses. Secondly I think EJax has been fortunate in that his BABIP is .264 and his career BABIP is .305. I don't think he's been disappointing because his WAR so far is 1.9 and if he ends up at 2.5 that's worth roughly $11.5 million which is line with his salary. On the other hand I wouldn't rush to lock him up to 3 – 4 years either; 2 years at the same price is as high as I'd go.

  119. rabbit34 - Aug 28, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    Bowdenball…….Thanks for setting thing straight. You're correct. I don't check facts. I take the announcers at their word. Time and again I watch and hear them talk about the rookie pitcher, minor league call-up, or a pitcher breaking a five game losing streak, pitching lights-out..Cy Young pitching against us. So, no, I don't check facts. I let broadcasters and others do that. But I hear what I hear and I know what I know. Should be a good game tonight….IF we win. GO NATS!!!!!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 78 14.5
NEW YORK 75 80 16.0
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 84 20.0
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's early games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 67 3.0
ST. LOUIS 87 68 4.0
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 70 6.5 +0.5
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

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.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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