Skip to content

LaRoche, bench deliver 97th win

Oct 3, 2012, 4:19 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Adam LaRoche gets a curtain call after recording his 33rd homer and 100th RBI.

The NL East title clinched at last, Davey Johnson felt it was more important Tuesday night to rest most of his regulars than field his very best lineup against the Phillies in an attempt to lock up the league’s best record on the season’s penultimate day.

So it was that Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki all watched the game from the dugout, their bodies and minds still recovering from the previous night’s raucous celebration at Nationals Park.

There was, however, one key veteran who found his way into his familiar spot in the heart of the Nationals lineup. Adam LaRoche, sitting on 99 RBI, wanted to take a crack at reaching the century mark for only the second time in his career.

“I was going to get one of these next two days a little breather,” he said. “We had a bunch of guys sitting today. I told them I’d go in there and try it out. I’m glad they talked me into it.”

As are the Nationals, who benefited from LaRoche’s leadoff homer in the sixth, the go-ahead blast that sent them on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Phillies and left them on a precipice of baseball’s best record heading into Game 162.
Read more

  1. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    The guy is as smooth as a well-worn velvet slipper. Hits, hits with power, quiet, no flash but plenty of substance. Seeing him play first day in and day out is a real treat. Produces runs at bat and saves runs in the field. What's not to like?Grab that 98th victory, go to ATL/ST.L and Let's Go Gio.I just tightened my seat belt one notch tighter. I'm ready for the ride. Enjoy.

  2. Unknown - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    The Nationals are perhaps the supreme team in baseball this year, thanks in part to those back-to-back number-one draft picks, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.Now, it looks like the Nationals will have the last pick in next June's amateur draft. My, how things have changed.Farid @ Idaho

  3. baseballswami - Oct 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I feel like opening day was last week. I will miss Bob and FP during the games. Getting a little misty. Can you believe we get another exciting game 162 this year ? And it's the Rangers and The A's?????? Who saw that coming??? Former Nats aplenty there. I am rooting for them as the ultimate underdog.

  4. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Me, too, on the A's, unless we end up facing them. :-)

  5. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    On a related note, how awesome is it not to be looking at all the teams in the mix and deciding which one to root for this postseason? An old friend in California asked me who I'd root for if it came down to the Giants and the Nats. Uh, yeah, that would be my Nats. I did also say that, either way, one of us would wind up very, very happy and the other one could at least be happy for them. :-)

  6. rabbit34 - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    As much as I love the Nats, they are punchless. Here is what is going to happen in the playoffs. The Braves are going to win their game. The Nationals are going to lose right out of the box. The Braves are going to win the World Series. So now, if you all can't get to watch every game, that is what's going to happen. Enjoy the playoffs!!!

  7. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Farid, great point on the potential last pick in 2013.

  8. 320R2S15 - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Back in your hole bunny.How much will it cost Ted to retain ALR? And, would the Nats be smart to go for it, I figure he will want three years.

  9. hiramhover - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    rabbit34You're wasting your talents. What we really need to know is the numbers for the next Powerball drawing.

  10. hiramhover - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    On retaining ALRI like him and will be sorry to see him go, but no, he won't be worth it to the Nats to retain. He's having a strong finish, and esp if he does likewise in the playoffs, he's going to get more years than would make sense for the Nats.

  11. sjm308 - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Rabbit34 – as much as you "love" the nationals, you refuse to look at realityI went back the last 30 days and here are our offensive stats for the lads you call punchlessStats will read Batting Ave. opb slugging and opsHarper .337 .405 .666 1.069LaRoche .324 .393 .651 1.050Desmond .313 .382 .576 .958Suzuki .286 .337 .442 .779Zim .275 .327 .559 .883Morse .274 .307 .452 .759Werth .265 .360 .357 .717Espinosa has had difficulty the last month but if these 8 hit those numbers in the playoffs, I will be happy.I just looked at the two playoff scenarios that affect my stupidity for booking a place in Corolla for next week. My son will get my playoff tickets for all of those games. (secretly hoping we win both away games and the first home game so I only miss one game.The second series starts on Sunday Oct 14 and it would be best (again, selfishly for me) if we have the top seed as I would be able to see all of these games. If we are the lower seed I have this Hall of Fame situation where I coached and one of my favorite swimmers is being inducted and guess who is giving the induction speech that Friday night? Sooooo Go Nats!! Finish First !!!

  12. 320R2S15 - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    http://hamptonroads.com/2012/10/long-shot-pays-nationals-zimmermanNice article on RZ in the VA Beach paper.

  13. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Yesterday Rabbit34 posted that he just couldn't view "this team" as a first place club even though the only team approaching their season record plays in a division with two 100 loss teams. And today he's claiming claivoyance in the Nats immediate demise.Rabbit34 = Second rate troll.

  14. sjm308 - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Like I said last night – Just write one positive sentence, If you can, and then go back to your negativity. They just can't do it!! and none of them probably actually go to games or root for this team to win. At least JayB was a season ticket holder who did want us to win. All these guys want is to spew "stuff".Go Nats!!!

  15. Feel Wood - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Now, it looks like the Nationals will have the last pick in next June's amateur draft.Hasn't been an issue for us before, so I haven't been paying attention to it. Do they base the draft order strictly on W-L record, or do they factor in playoffs? In other words, does the last pick go to the team with the best W-L record or to the World Series winner?

  16. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    I believe it is based on regular season record, not playoffs.

  17. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    2012 draft was based on final regular season record. The Phillies had the last pick (best record at 102-60) but forfieted their pick to Boston for signing Papelbon.

  18. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    In other news, remember the breast-beating in some circles over all the LAD spending and trade deadline moves? How's that working out for Stan now? Yeah, that's what I thought. :-)

  19. Section 222 - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    The big spenders (other than the Yankees of course) have diddly to show for what they did last offseason, or during the years. My dream that the Marlins, Angels and Dodgers would be watching the playoffs on TV has come true. Instead, the Nats, A's, and Orioles, have a shot. And the Cards too, after losing Pujols. Poetic justice.

  20. Nats In Athens - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Baed on past history, The Nats should improve by 10 games or so every year. Based on us improving too much this year, we can expect 102 wins next season and 114 in 2014. Drink the Coolaid and BELIEVE!

  21. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Ned Colletti is a good GM but I can tell you the trade for Hanley and the deal with Boston had Stan K. prints all over it. It looks like giving up Evoldi was a mistake after watching his last 4 starts.

  22. MicheleS - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Cool.. Rabbit just put a reverse lock on the Nats. Thanks

  23. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. sm13 - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    This has been a grrat season, no doubt. And now thr second season is ready to get underway. This is what we've all been waiting for. So, lets all get happy and enjoy the ride. Sniping , griping , and whining can wait until after November 1st. For now, let's just support our Nats and have some fun. Go Nats, Go Gio!

  25. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Agreed on the biggest spenders, 222. There are still some "top 10 spending" teams in it, at least if one goes by their spring payrolls.Section 222 said…The big spenders (other than the Yankees of course) have diddly to show for what they did last offseason, or during the years. My dream that the Marlins, Angels and Dodgers would be watching the playoffs on TV has come true. Instead, the Nats, A's, and Orioles, have a shot. And the Cards too, after losing Pujols. Poetic justice.October 03, 2012 8:28 AM

  26. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Texas, Detroit, SF, and St. Louis all spent over $100MM. Of course, Philly spent more than anybody, except NYY. So there's that.

  27. Dave - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    @Nats in Athens, at that rate, in about seven years the Nats should have an undefeated season! ;-)

  28. dickinsonpoet - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Kind of interesting what even our bench can do. All those condescending articles in the Wall St. Journal and the Philadelphia press and blogs notwithstanding. They do not yet get it who the Nationals are.

  29. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    NatsJack, it was that Boston trade that will cost LA big time.StanK now sits at home watching the Nats in the postseason.Ironic.

  30. dickinsonpoet - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    To use a metaphor from one of your works, dp, the clock may not have stopped for the Phillies, but it's ticking. :-)dickinsonpoet said… Kind of interesting what even our bench can do. All those condescending articles in the Wall St. Journal and the Philadelphia press and blogs notwithstanding. They do not yet get it who the Nationals are. October 03, 2012 9:06 AM

  32. bowdenball - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Anyone else find it odd that over the last couple days, the debate about whether it's "worth it" to finish with the best record on the NL has centered entirely on whether you'd rather face the wild card winner or the Giants?I think that's the MORE important consequence. But if the Nats are fortunate enough to reach Game 7 of the NLCS, wouldn't it be worthwhile to guarantee that the single most important game in the history of the franchise takes place in Nationals Park instead of Cincinnati? I haven't seen a single mention of that from anyone in the organization. Has it been brought up?

  33. dickinsonpoet - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Perhaps we can become the nation's baseball capital. It's not unthinkable.

  34. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    LaRoche's next contract negotiation will be something to watch. From the Nats point of view the trick is to overpay for a couple of years but not get locked into Year III. From LaRoche's point of view the issue is getting paid (more than the Nats offer) while ending up in a place where he has a chance to win more pennants. My first cut at a list of teams who (A) need a 1B badly enough to pay close to $20MM/year and (B) can afford/are willing to spend it: Texas, Seattle, Toronto, Boston, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Arizona. LaRoche has already been in Boston and Arizona and it didn't work out, so my list really has only five teams on it — Texas, Seattle, Toronto, Cleveland, Milwaukee. A couple of those are places to which most players wouldn't want to go. This leads me to be hopeful the Nats can strike an expensive — but earned — two-year deal. If wishes were horses . . ..

  35. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Ghost…I agree on the Boston trade but Evoldi is the one chip the Dodgers gave up that I've seen up close. A 22 yo with 98 and two other plus pitches for the locker room malaise that is Hanley Ramirez?……I'll take the pitcher every time.And Stan doesn't have Scheurholz or Rizzo anymore.

  36. Steady Eddie - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Best part of today:Game thread #162 is NOT, repeat NOT, the last game thread of the year!

  37. Nattering Nat - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    LaRoche getting to 100 RBIs is one of the most satisfying results of this extraordinary year. From here, the payroll only goes up, but I do think resigning AR is well worth it, as he makes Desi's and Zimm's errant throws into outs 99 percent of the time.We will look back on this year forever with great fondness, whatever happens next and however much angst we had during the year, simply due to how unexpected it was for the team to get this good, this fast.My one gripe (yes, a gripe) about this team is the lack of key hits when really needed. So many of their walk-offs this year were due to wild pitches, errors and the like. I think that's what will catch up to them in the playoffs. Such is life. It's a year we will never forget. And it ain't over yet….

  38. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    OTOH, Nattering, there's this.

  39. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Does someone publish stats for walk-offs?

  40. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    For those who were claiming only last week that late season collapses were rare, look only to the AL West, where the Rangers had a 4-game lead on 9/23 with only 11 left to play. The Rangers have gone 4-6 over their last 10, while the As have gone 8-2 to overtake them. If the As win today (or the Rangers lose, however you look at it), you can add the Rangers collapse to the list of similar implosions from the past.I'll be rooting for the As to do it.

  42. ehay2k - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Man, some people just wake up looking to whine and moan about something! (Not meaning you, Nattering)We are in the playoffs. Minimum 3 games will be played, and one guaranteed at home! People should be shouting fro the rooftops, not whining. I can see rabbit34 after the Nats win the WS.Sure, but it took SIX GAMES! (Copyright Larry David & co.)

  43. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    natsfan1a said…Does someone publish stats for walk-offs?I am sure they exist. Just the other day, I found stats on the Nationals going back to 1871, 4 years after the Civil War! Theyy played in a professional league before the MLB was established. This is why baseball is the greatest game of all time!!

  44. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Steady Eddie said…Best part of today:Game thread #162 is NOT, repeat NOT, the last game thread of the year!POTD!!!!!

  45. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    maybe Mark or someone can answer this…. Are there any players alive from the 1945 club that won over 90 games and missed winning the AL pennant by 1 freagin game? If so, Nats should get those old boys out to the park!

  46. Steady Eddie - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    ehay2k — no, I think it'll squeak, "weakest, luckiest, least-deserving WS winner in history."Must be bizarre to have your desperate efforts to interact with other people be so entirely negative-attention-seeking.But MicheleS' "rabbit=reverse jinx!" is the best way to put it in its hole.

  47. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Seconded, Mick!

  48. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    That is, POTD seconded. Not that I object to getting the old guys.

  49. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    lol old funk!!!

  50. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Think I saw a couple of days ago that the As were leading baseball in walk-off wins this year (14?). I haven't gone to any lengths to verify this.

  51. Melissa Rabey - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    This is the first year I've really cared about this issue: about when does MLB announce the winners of the various awards such as ROY, Cy Young, etc.?

  52. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Melissa Rabey I just heard the answer to this on Mike and Mike…. some right after the regular season and some after WS… which means I failed to answer the question as did Mike and Mike

  53. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Mick, I live in a house built in 1870, very near the old site of Griffith Stadium. These old walls have been here through all that, from the first Grant administration to now. "The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."

  54. MicheleS - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    melissa.. announcements happen in november after all games are played

  55. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    "I found stats on the Nationals going back to 1871, 4 years after the Civil War!"The way the story was told to me, the Civil War ended in 1865. Of course, some people would insist that it is still going on.(Written from occupied Virginia)

  56. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa Bless you and James Earl Jones, lol So your an old time DC boys of summer, I love it! now that is very cool about your house!!

  57. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Theophilus T. S. lol and agreed

  58. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    (Written from occupied Virginia) yeah, yeah. when do we get the rest of DC back?; )

  59. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Mick, I didn't grow up here, and as a lifelong NL fan, have no significant memories of either Senators team. But the concept conveys.

  60. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    lol sofa

  61. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    sofa… a true baseball fan…. no DH, I love the NL as well. My old Senators played in an era before the DH, back then players could actually bunt

  62. A DC Wonk - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    My one gripe (yes, a gripe) about this team is the lack of key hits when really needed. Two out RISP:Nationals: .254/.355/.397League Avg: .230/.340/.364Those stats seem to belie your assertion. Batting 24 points above the league average is pretty big.Sure, it stings a lot when a guy fails in a 2-out-RISP situation, and we tend to remember them. And the third out is much more often made than not.But the Nats fail a lot less than the other teams.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Ghost…I agree on the Boston trade but Evoldi is the one chip the Dodgers gave up that I've seen up close. A 22 yo with 98 and two other plus pitches for the locker room malaise that is Hanley Ramirez?……I'll take the pitcher every time.And Stan doesn't have Scheurholz or Rizzo anymore. Miami needed to trade Hanley and they got a young arm and did the same with Jacob Turner. You always judge trades in hindsight so we will see in a few years.In the Boston trade, LA got better talent but they inherited a lot of contractual long-term "debt". The trades were made to get them into the playoffs and they came up short. Sucks for them! ;)

  64. mick - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    A DC Wonk right about now, every Dodger fan is thinking that about Kemp, lol

  65. bowdenball - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Laddie Blah Blah said…"For those who were claiming only last week that late season collapses were rare, look only to the AL West, where the Rangers had a 4-game lead on 9/23 with only 11 left to play."I was one of those people. And yes, it might happen one more time. But it didn't happen in the NL East. Didn't happen in the AL wild card either. Or the NL wild card, even though there were four different teams within five games of the second wild card spot on the date you chose.So you've got a 50/50 shot that just one of the six teams that was between two and five games of a playoff spot or division title on September 23rd will actually catch the team they're chasing. Seems rare to me. Definitely not strong evidence that it's commonplace, at least.

  66. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    I'm blown away by the Nats WAR numbers. Ian Desmond (5.1) leads the Nats position players followed by Bryce Harper (4.8).Harper is 7th in NL outfielder WAR and 4th in outfielders in runs scored.Ian Desmond is #1 in NL shortstop WAR and played in much fewer games than the other Shortstops and 2nd in the Majors behind Zobrist.Truly 2 spectacular players. I hope both players get the recognition they both deserve.

  67. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/pitching/_/league/nl/sort/WARBRThe Pitching WAR numbers look great for Nats pitching and I think whats most impressive is where the Nats "Big 4" can improve to next year and into the future.

  68. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    RISP, late add: You don't win 97 games on wild pitches alone, and you are more likely to get those WPs when pitchers are afraid to throw you a strike.

  69. Steady Eddie - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Sofa — later add on RISP, think of all the plays on Harper that show up in the boxes as errors but were forced by his ferocious approach to baserunning (and how infectious that has gotten, e.g., KSuz's first-to-third on Kendrick's wild pickoff throw on Monday). So what looks like the other team's weakness was provoked by a strength of the Nats.Ghost — great points about the position players' and starting rotation's WAR. Does anyone here believe that any of those WARs were career years that won't likely be duplicated for five or more years into the future? (Given decent health — and remember that both Desi and Harp's numbers include a month, give or take, of not playing.)No matter what happens from here in October, that just adds to the glow this team gives us.

  70. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Eddie, indeed. Tennis, e.g., differentiates between forced and unforced errors. Harper forces errors.

  71. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    And after today, not only does the W-L record reset to 0-0, but all the batting averages start fresh, too. There's the star who pulls a houdini in the playoffs, and there's some goon squad guy who carries the team for a week, which is all it takes in the playoffs. With pretty much the whole team new to this, there's a lot left to discover about these guys. But I'm betting Harper and Zimm show up.

  72. peric - Oct 3, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    One thing is certain, give the real dearth of any reasonable minor league system the old Senators had … it was nigh on impossible for that expansion franchise to ever become a winner. Still can't believe they took their top college draft pick, a college pitcher, and immediately threw him into the mix effectively ruining his career. All because that owner (much like Stan K.) loved big glossy names like Denny "the dick" McLain, Curt Flood. Threw away a top left-side of the infield plus their one-and-only young potential 20 game winner for McLain. I'm glad Stan K. is gone and Rizzo still here. Thank god Ted Lerner decided to trust and listen to Rizzo and Clark! I guess the real, original DC baseball fan should just feel gratitude at this point. Given the sordid past. Sure, the Lerner's made mistakes but they made sure the mistakes did not cost either they themselves money, or the franchise a winning record as Mr. Snyder seems unswervingly capable of over in Ashburn.Gratitude. Not innuendo about the "cheapness" of the Lerners. These guys appear to have some brains … brains enough to learn quickly and learn how to recognize front office talent.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 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.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter