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Welcome to the meat grinder

Oct 8, 2012, 2:43 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ryan Mattheus’ seventh-inning escape act saved the day for the Nationals.

ST. LOUIS — Twenty-one of the 25 players on their roster had never experienced this before. Neither had approximately 99 percent of their fan base back home in Washington.

Jayson Werth, though, had been here. He’s been through the meat grinder of the postseason, and he knows what kind of toll it can take on teams and players who are entering uncharted territory.

“A lot of times you see teams in their first games, the first time they’re there, and they crack or buckle,” the veteran right fielder said. “I feel like we definitely gave a little bit, but we didn’t break.”

Oh, the Nationals gave plenty to the Cardinals Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. If not for the giant scoreboard in center field at Busch Stadium, a casual observer might well have thought they were trailing by a touchdown in the top of the eighth inning, not by a single run.

This, though, is what postseason baseball is all about. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions. One minute you’re sky-high, the next you’re cursing yourself after a squandered opportunity.
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100 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Kirbs - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    It was a ugly win, but it should have put everyone on notice for when we actually play well. I dont think ive ever seen 3 outs on 2 pitches.

  2. Scott Margenau - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    First time in post season history

  3. Section 222 - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    Mark, your piece makes it sound like Espi advance Morse to third and Desi to second with his sacrifice. That's not the case. Morse went 1st to 3rd on Desi's single.

  4. Swift Eagle - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Werth may have struggled at the plate, but the catch was the equivalent of a 2 run HR…I know Gio was wild, but I actually thought the Wild Pitch which StL scored their first run on should have been a Passed Ball, it wasn't in the dirt, Suzuki seems a little slow to react to pitches to his left…Suzuki of course also had at least 3 run saving blocks, so I don't mean to sound critical…

  5. Swift Eagle - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    Ironic that the game ended on an appealed 3rd strike called by Marvin Hudson. looked like a correct call, just ironic.

  7. Kirbs - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Hey, its an Xavier Nady alert. Just into LF

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:25 AM

    Couldn't watch live, but what a replay! A win is a win is a win; doesn't matter how pretty or how ugly. The Cards had their share of such wins last post-season — all good teams do. Now let's keep the pressure on them tomorrow (another game I can't watch live, alas). GYFNG!

  9. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    Eugene — The cards had their share of such wins last season — all good teams do.Exactly! The only dominant flawless games tend to be against distinctly weaker opponents, and there are precious few left in the playoffs by now. (The Giants may be the only ones left.). These are high pressure see-saw battLes between evenly-matched teams, and the winners aren't the ones who play flawlessly, because very few do. (Tigers' two wins weren't works of art.). The winners are the teams that hang tough to minimize the damage from the mistakes they do make. We did that today, from Gio holding the Cards to one hit over five innings, to of course Mattheus bailing out LaRoche and Stammen after Stammen shut down the Cards the previous inning, to Desi, then Zim and Danny all making great plays under incredible pressure to reward Mattheus, to Werth redeeming himself with that game-saving catch, to Desi, TMo, and even Danny enabling us to take advantage of Kozma's error as the Cards had been unable to do with ALR's, to Clip bailing out Zim's error, to Druuu's sterling shutdown…..Kirby's, I don't call that ugly at all. I call it professional, winning playoff baseball. Feel free to differ if you like.

  10. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    Kirbs, not Kirby's. Stupid autocorrect.And what I didn't mention was holding that incredibly powerful Cards lineup to three singles, at home.

  11. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    Boy, Jim Johnson sure chose a bad time for the Os to have his first meltdown of the season. Now THAT was an ugly third of an inning.

  12. Kirbs - Oct 8, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Yep minus gios 2nd inning, this was the best pitched game of the year as a team effort. And right after the Os melt down….Cinci is just pounding the ball. Does the CS go back to the 2-3-2 format? Or is it different this year

  13. Drew - Oct 8, 2012 at 4:34 AM

    I think the home team has lost every playoff game, so far:Texas lost the wild card game.Atlanta lost the wild card game.Oakland lost twice at home. San Francisco lost twice at home.Baltimore lost at home.St. Louis lost at home.Crazy.

  14. RPrecupjr - Oct 8, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    Eddie, apparently no one listens to me. As soon as I saw that Johnson was pitching to start the ninth, I said out loud (even though I was the only one in the room), "Game over, Yankees win." How did I know this? You NEVER, EVER bring your closer in in a tie game (16th or 17th inning bein the exception). I posted the same mantra back in September following a Clippard meltdown when Davey brought him in in a tie game. For whatever reason, closers do not know how to handle a tie game situation. I am willing to bet, should someone have too much time on their hands, that if they looked up every loss Mariano Rivera has, that at least, if not more than half of the came when he entered in a tie game. It just doesn't work.

  15. DCGuy7 - Oct 8, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    maybe a little off topic, but speaking of meat grinders – i just saw that my $50 regular season seats are going for (face value) $340 for the World Series. almost SEVEN times the normal price? um…gee, thanks front office. of course i want us to get there, but sheesh, i won't be able to afford to go.

  16. rogieshan - Oct 8, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    Drew, the two Oakland losses took place in Detroit. However, there is something to be said about the pressure of opening at home in front of your own fans.

  17. Corky - Oct 8, 2012 at 5:16 AM

    GYFNG! This is like a dream come true!!

  18. Drew - Oct 8, 2012 at 5:55 AM

    Ah, thanks Rogie. My mistake.

  19. Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa - Oct 8, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    DCGuy, I believe MLB sets ticket prices for the post-season.

  20. Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa - Oct 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    I am surprised there was no mention of the Shadow Monster in either Mark's game discussion ans wrapup, or the comments. It seemed to be a major factor.

  21. baseballswami - Oct 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    You can focus on the rusty hitting or on Gio's spastic second if you want. There were truly some brilliant things that happened out there. I just don't know how they only scored 2 runs. Werth's catch, Tyler's hit and -Mattheus' inning!! Clip was good, Drew was Drew!!!! And to think we were worried about the bullpen but not Gio. As I have said many times- it's a cruel and unpredictable game.

  22. Another_Sam - Oct 8, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Section 3 – my sofa was free of shadows. LOL. Perhaps those at the park saw the effect.

  23. Nats In Athens - Oct 8, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Seeing Moore perform this year, and knowing he missed three years because of his reluctance (?) to sign, shows how counterproductive these decisions can be. He would be possibly looking at his first year of arbitration at least now (and making the 2005 class look great)…

  24. natsfan1a - Oct 8, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Yes.Does the CS go back to the 2-3-2 format?

  25. mick - Oct 8, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Boswell as usual hits the nail on the head, great piece this morning…. did the skins play yesterday, lol

  26. mick - Oct 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    rogieshan said…Drew, the two Oakland losses took place in Detroit. However, there is something to be said about the pressure of opening at home in front of your own fans.on this note… I still have a problem with this playoff format, maybe A's still would lose to Verlander in game #1, but game #2 at home, they would have had a better shot at winning.

  27. alexva - Oct 8, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    @RP – if you get to the top of the ninth tied in a home game there will be no save opportunity. most of the time the closer is warming up in case they take the lead in the eighth and it is very common to bring them in for one inning to hold the tie. but enough about the O's.GYFNG!!!

  28. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 8, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Thanks for explaining it to him Alexva. Didn't want to go all Basball 101 on him but that's like rule #3 in the chapter on closers.

  29. mick - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Mark's blog title makes me think of the ending scene in Fargo with Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi, hee hee

  30. mick - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    actually, it was a wood chipper

  31. baseballswami - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Nats in Athens – Moore decided to stay in college. Since when is that a bad decision? Had he signed three years earlier he might have been too immature to start his career. Things tend to work out for the best.

  32. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Craig Kimbrell pitched with his usual excellence in non-save situations. Fredi brought him in when Atlanta was down 3-2 in the game Larry had the big walkoff HR. He also brought Kimbrell in when Atlanta was down in the WC game. Didn't help, but Kimbrell was lights out.

  33. mick - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    The Reds look very good right now, it appears that Johnny Cueto had back spasms, not arm problems so he could be back in form by the NLCS.

  34. natsfan1a - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Mick: "I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper."

  35. mick - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    natsfan1a said…Mick: "I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper."ha ha ha, lol

  36. dickinsonpoet - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Werth's dramatic catch saving a homer — that was another important moment in this game. The highlight clips and photos of this are amazing. Watch them.

  37. dickinsonpoet - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Also great: Desmond's throw to the plate to get the lead runner. Close decision, but the right one.

  38. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    The condensed game is on MLB Network now. Its the 8th inning.

  39. NatsNut - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    I'm also convinced that Davey was covering for Danny.Scott Margenau said…Davey did not call it (Espinoza bunt) he covered for him…but no way he called that.

  40. MicheleS - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Keep posting people. I am stuck in an all day meeting and need the humor.

  41. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    dickinsonpoet said… Also great: Desmond's throw to the plate to get the lead runner. Close decision, but the right one. October 08, 2012 8:39 AM ___________________________________Shades of that one game that ended on a walkoff when Desi couldn't make that same throw and in the largest of stages Desi this time makes it look easy. Desi goes 3 for 4 and turns that humongous defensive play.

  42. NatsNut - Oct 8, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    I have no idea how Jayson Werth caught that ball. First, he NEVER makes those catches against the wall, not even at home. Plus, he was running in and out of shadows the whole time he was tracking the ball. And then replays showed he caught it in the heel of his glove? Wow. That was a miracle right there.

  43. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    NatsNut said… I'm also convinced that Davey was covering for Danny.Scott Margenau said…Davey did not call it (Espinoza bunt) he covered for him…but no way he called that. October 08, 2012 8:57 AM ____________________________________He swung away on the 1st pitch and bunted on the 2nd pitch.He is so lost at the plate you have to feel sorry for him.He has to shorten that swing and just make contact as he is just a black hole in the 7th spot. He left 4 men on-base.

  44. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    NatsNut said… I have no idea how Jayson Werth caught that ball. First, he NEVER makes those catches against the wall, not even at home. Plus, he was running in and out of shadows the whole time he was tracking the ball. And then replays showed he caught it in the heel of his glove? Wow. That was a miracle right there._____________________________________No doubt about it. After failing at the plate in clutch situations and leaving 7 on base, Werth makes a play I don't recall him ever making.

  45. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    The biggest story has to be the evolution of Moore. Up until this year all we heard was that he was a power guy with a big loopy swing who would never distinguish himself. The pitch he put into right field shows he is no longer one-dimensional. Johnson says Moore will be "a 30-homer guy." Of course, in order to be a 30-homer guy, he's got to get the at-bats. And his development as a hitter justifies an effort next year to do what they did for Lombardozzi this year — get him at least 300 ABs. (Ironically, many of those ABs will come out of Lombardozzi's hide as they will no longer need him as an emergency outfielder.)

  46. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Theophilus T. S. said… The biggest story has to be the evolution of Moore. Up until this year all we heard was that he was a power guy with a big loopy swing who would never distinguish himself. The pitch he put into right field shows he is no longer one-dimensional. Johnson says Moore will be "a 30-homer guy." Of course, in order to be a 30-homer guy, he's got to get the at-bats. And his development as a hitter justifies an effort next year to do what they did for Lombardozzi this year — get him at least 300 ABs. (Ironically, many of those ABs will come out of Lombardozzi's hide as they will no longer need him as an emergency outfielder.) _______________________________________So much depends on what the Nats & LaRoche do on LaR's contract demands.Moore could stay a role guy for 2013 as could Lombardozzi.

  47. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Drew said… I think the home team has lost every playoff game, so far:Texas lost the wild card game.Atlanta lost the wild card game.Oakland lost twice at home. San Francisco lost twice at home.Baltimore lost at home.St. Louis lost at home.Crazy. October 08, 2012 12:34 AM _______________________________Detroit is home but you got the rest correct.

  48. BigCat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    At least Davey could do is platoon at 2B. You just gotta keep Espy out of that lefthanded batters box.

  49. m20832 - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Is anybody worried about RZimm's right shoulder? The way he hesitated on those overhand throws to ALR makes me wonder if he isn't hurting.Very nice sac bunt by Espi to move Morse and Desi over. Then a clutch hit by TyMo to take the lead! Drew coming in and shutting the Cards down.Gotta Luvit!GYFNG!!!

  50. Tcostant - Oct 8, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    I'm glad we won, but the fact is that "Espinosa's surprising sacrifice bunt" would be the talk this morning if we had not won the game. Bottom line, he looked bad before that (Three K's), but all he needed was a fly ball to tie the game. If he can't excel at that, he should have been pinch hit for. I still think he did it on his own, no way does the Davey I know make that play.

  51. Tcostant - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    One other thing; the TBS pitch box is bad. I found myself agreeing more with the umps than the pitch box when it was different. This is not normal when watching on MASN or ESPN.

  52. phil dunton - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Who's brilliant idea was it to rest Gio for 9 days. That was butt stupid. His ERA in games where he has has more that 5 days rest was 5.60. You never do that to a starter who is prone to wildness at times. Gio has always had control problems, but not so much this season when he pitches on four days rest.

  53. Tcostant - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I agree Phil, Gio should have started on Tuesday and if we still would have been the best overall record no problem. If we feel to the #2 seed I would have had no issue starting Zim in Game 1 and Gio in Game 2.Could agree more.

  54. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Tcostant said… I'm glad we won, but the fact is that "Espinosa's surprising sacrifice bunt" would be the talk this morning if we had not won the game. Bottom line, he looked bad before that (Three K's), but all he needed was a fly ball to tie the game. If he can't excel at that, he should have been pinch hit for. I still think he did it on his own, no way does the Davey I know make that play. October 08, 2012 9:31 AM ___________________________________The only bench bats left were Flores who has been horrible himself lately and Lombardozzi who is the Nats most efficient contact hitter.Davey needed to go Lombo in that situation but maybe he thought he would get something out of Suzuki. If Tyler Moore doesn't come through, can you imagine the 2nd and 3rd guessing going on?

  55. natscan reduxit - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    … yeah, okay, so Davey J doesn't like small ball, doesn't want to play small ball. Yeah, okay. But thank the good Lord God that small ball 'happened' yesterday. I defy anyone to claim that game wasn't more exciting than one won by three dingers and a lot of fly ball outs.Go Nats!!

  56. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Reds look good, but face it, the Giants are not putting up much of a fight. We beat the Reds when Votto was at full strength. He's still a great hitter but power has not returned. I don't know what happened to the Giants pitching, first Cain then Bumgarner. Timmy did OK out of the bullpen. The Gints are up against it now.

  57. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    phil dunton said… Who's brilliant idea was it to rest Gio for 9 days. That was butt stupid. His ERA in games where he has has more that 5 days rest was 5.60. You never do that to a starter who is prone to wildness at times. Gio has always had control problems, but not so much this season when he pitches on four days rest. October 08, 2012 9:35 AM _________________________________Both Gio and JZim pitched tune-up side sessions. Gio had 6 days rest 3 times this season and pitched a shutout on April 24th. I don't think it had anything to do with the rest.

  58. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Don't understand what MLB is waiting for to announce game times. Hope it's not a 1:30 start, then I would have to take off from all three of my Wednesday jobs. Seems like it would also maximize the Sun Monster. 4:30 start would be fine with me I can get home by 2:00, change, and get to the Park by 3:30. Bet there will be plenty extra security. Have to figure the Yanks will get the night game. Giants and A's could conceivably be out of it by Wednesday.

  59. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Just in case anyone might think the blind squirrel (a.k.a. Phil Dunton) has finally stumbled across a nut, note that in game 161 last Tuesday, Gio's normal rotation day, we had (1) just clinched and (2) more important, couldn't know whether we would the #1 or #2 seed until the end of Tuesday after the game. If Gio starts and we end up the #2 seed, then the first game would have been Saturday and Gio either goes on short rest or gives up the chance to pitch game 5. Yeah, Davey could have given him a three inning start just to keep him warm but that still would have opened the risk of short rest — and if we'd been ahead by the top of the fourth, Davey knew Gio would want to stay in for two more together the winAs it was, Gio pitched five , gave up only two runs, and gave the team the. Hence to win. This was no EJax or Det meltdown at Busch, ugly as it looked in the second.

  60. UnkyD - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    NJ-Nice piece about My Boy.., I love the last line…http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/post/ian-desmond-plays-big-after-long-road-to-the-playoffs-stardom/2012/10/07/8f71d6cc-10f3-11e2-9a39-1f5a7f6fe945_blog.html?wprss=rss_nationals-journalSo many were tearing their hair out, wanting him GONE. And now, he truly is a leader…

  61. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I don't think it had anything to do with the rest either. Gio gets amped up. McCatty, Desi, ALR, Suzuki were all in there Gio-whispering. Gio doesn't give up HRs. But suppose he'd had a bad inning and given up a single and a HR, gone 6 innings, struck out 10, walked none and the score would still have been 2-1. He kept his team in the game. End of story. If we take the series 3-0 or 3-1, Gio won't pitch again until Sunday, so also long rest (6 days). The playoffs are just different and you have to manage it.

  62. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Phil, do you do any research before you speak.Gio was skipped a start in May 2011 and on May 17 2011 on 10 days rest pitched a 1 hit shutout with 1 walk over 7 innings vs the Angels. He had a no hitter into the 5th.This isn't Gio's first time. It was a clunker and you move on.

  63. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Phil, do you do any research before you speak.Gio was skipped a start in May 2011 and on May 17 2011 on 10 days rest pitched a 1 hit shutout with 1 walk over 7 innings vs the Angels. He had a no hitter into the 5th.This isn't Gio's first time. It was a clunker and you move on.October 08, 2012 9:57 AM ___________________________________Why would Phil and others do any research? Making false statements is much more fun for people like him.

  64. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    It wasn't even a clunker. It was just anxiety-inducing. 2 runs in 5 innings is sub-par but it isn't a clunker.I am watching Bumgarner pitch a "clunker." Gave up a solo HR in the 2nd and a bunch of singles in the 4th, and there you are 4-0…

  65. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Just glancing at Nats "Classic" on MASN for a 15-inning win vs Barves in April 2009. Riggleman on the bench, lineup of 1 Justin Maxwell2 Ian Desmond 3 Pete Orr (!) (Zim was injured)4 Elijah Dukes (!!)5 Michael Morse (didn't remember we had him that early or that Riggleman gave him any chance)6Josh Bard ( batting 6th??)7 Alberto Gonzales8 Jorge Padilla (who?)9 JD Martin (liked his heart, intermittent skill)Don't know where Dunn was — early injury? Adam LaRoche on first for the Barves.What a long strange trip it's been !!

  66. TheManBearPig - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Desmond is the best shortstop in MLB. "So many were tearing their hair out, wanting him GONE. And now, he truly is a leader…"

  67. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Hard to say which was the most important but extra rest, chilly day and snapping wind were all factors. Candlestick Park might have resembled those conditions in April or September but less likely in Oakland. But extra rest was definitely in play. As much as teams self-congratulate about keeping pitchers on strict schedules between games, "side sessions" are an interruption of those schedules and won't approximate stretching out/pacing for 100 pitches in always varying situations. "Extra rest" was never much of a problem when pitchers went every fourth day but has commonly been an issue in five-man rotations. This is one reason teams usually "skip" the No. 5 starter in April when there are more "open" or rain-out days.

  68. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    We have watched Desi grow up before our eyes. That thought process, remembering the bad throw to the plate vs. Atlanta and having nerves of steel to do it again! The first hit, just a nice easy stroke, not overdoing it, not swinging for the fences.

  69. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    I don't understand why announcers and commentators seem to think playing on the road is some sort of huge disadvantage for the road team. Apparently, it is a carry-over from football and basketball, two sports in which home field advantage is indeed significant. It just isn't that important in baseball(nor hockey).There may be situations where it matters a bit, based upon stadium characteristics and line-up make up, but often any disparity is just statistical noise. Cincy was far better on the road in 1976 than in 1975, although they won over 100 games both years and had no major changes in personnel. They did seem to struggle a bit in Fenway in 1975, which is a unique ballpark, but they still managed to win one of three there, while losing another in extra innings.Most of the top teams this year had road records that were comparable to their home records. St. Louis is an exception, but they have been incredibly unlucky all year based on run differential and close losses. The main gripe I have is that the Nats deserve to have at least two home games based on what they did this year, and that is for the fans. The second thing that I keep reading on here has to do with Tommy Milone. Please, if someone really believes that Milone is comparable to Gio Gonzalez, then make a case for him. Explain how such a counter-intuitive opinion might be right.I don't see it at all. Gonzalez had an ERA+ this year of 137. Milone's was 106, up a tiny bit from 102 last year. Milone gives up 3 more hits a game. Milone's stats, are slightly better than Lannan's, except for win-loss, and I still think win-loss records matter, at least a little, because a pitcher does have some ability, even if not a huge amount, to pitch up or down to the opposition depending on what is happening in the game.I didn't see the A's game yesterday, so this is just based on the numbers, but it doesn't appear that Milone was that much better than Gonzalez at all. Both pitchers were pitching in roughly equivalent parks, in terms of average runs per game. Milone pitched one more inning. He gave up six hits and a walk, but two of the hits were doubles. Gio gave up two singles and six walks and two runs in five innings, against an incredibly difficult line-up who are defending champs. I was cursing Gio during the 2nd inning, but I wasn't surprised. We have seen that before in Gio and in other pitchers like him. The wildness is a benefit when moderated, but becomes a curse at times.You might be able to make a case that the A's will do well with their two trades with the Nats going forward but not based on Milone, who is roughly the same age as Gonzalez. I don't even know where we would be without Suzuki. Compared to Preston Wilson, whom we got mid-season the last time we had a competitive team, Suzuki is an amazing pick-up.

  70. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    "Is anybody worried about RZimm's right shoulder?"Yup. He seems to have to reload his shoulder a few times before he lets loose to first base. They mentioned during the broadcast that he has had 4 cortisone shots this year. I had thought he had only 2. The weather is cooler. It could very well be bothering him. He has been striking out more frequently, of late.Whatever is wrong with that shoulder must be corrected in the off-season. Zim is going to play through it, for now. No way is he going to sit this out over a bad shoulder, if that is what is bothering him. He has made it all the way from June 24th to October 9th, and the end is in sight.

  71. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Can't remember–did Davey do a mid-game interview? I know McCatty did, talking about settling Gio down.

  72. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Laddie, I think RZ had at least three. The first one didn't work. Yes, everyone is worried about RZ's shoulder, but you are right, nothing can be done at this point. If by some luck we get a blowout in our favor you might see Tracy or Lombo give him a break, that's about it.

  73. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    You almost wish RZ would run in a couple of steps even when he's already got the ball and sling his throw rather than trying to set for the overhand throw.

  74. original Nats Fan - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Steady: and Dibble as commentator, also. That was then and this is now, two+ years later and in the playoffs. What a wild, wonderful ride.

  75. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    NL — exactly re Desi, that crucial throw to the plate was one of many great plays our guys made to keep the Cards at 2 all game. That throw was so well executed that it looked like something you could take for granted but the margin for — not even error, just slightly less than perfect execution — was so minuscule that it was a much more demanding play than it looked ( including not only being right on target but fast enough to let KSuz avoid a plate collision). And you're right, it's about his learning from everything and reflecting that learning in his work. The Sept 14 ending vs the Barves was right at the top of his mind there.And also as you said in his hitting — taking what's given and not trying to do something on a pitch that won't allow it (boy, does Danny need some of that, and Harp's plate discipline).So many truly vital contributions to a TEAM win. That's how winning playoff teams do it.

  76. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    William, actually Gio gave up 7 walks and got to face a pitcher while AL batters get the DH. I don't think anyone in their right mind would take Milone over Gio except yesterday Milone pitched well and Gio didn't. 7 walks, wild pitch.

  77. NatsLady - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    From Amanda's article.At 54 degrees, the game was the coldest Gonzalez, a Florida native, pitched in since May 17, 2011. Also noticed RZ blowing on his hands (well, on his batting gloves). Not the weather the boys are used to. April baseball… But JZ, he can thrive in this weather. Got high hopes for today.

  78. Steady Eddie - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    NL — Mark Z. Just tweeted that he thought a Wednesday late afternoon start was most likely. Hope that's tru — almost too late for much Sun Monster but near the height of warmth for the day (to let our guys hit it out), not to mention making everyone including the players more comfortable (supposed to be high in low 70s).

  79. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    NatsLady, The cold weather as mist pitchers will tell you can affect their breakers and they have to adjust.Gio didn't adjust. It was a game where the baseball gods again intervened and the stat line doesn't reflect how bad it really was.4 walks in an inning including the pitcher and walk away with 2 runs? A miracle.

  80. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    "But extra rest was definitely in play."Definitely. It helped the bull pen, especially Clip. They won the duel with the Cards' pen. Having that group in top form bodes well for the rest of the post-season. It was the biggest overall factor in yesterday's win, Moore's hit, Werth's catch and Desi's clutch throw home notwithstanding.Regarding Danny's woes at the plate, note that on the first pitch in that 8th inning AB, he swung for the fences, as always, and missed, as he almost always does, before laying down that bunt. Contrast that to Moore's dialed back swing, where he reached for an outside pitch, up, and simply took advantage of the opportunity to just poke a blooper over the Cards' infield to drive in the tying and winning runs. If a power hitter like Moore has learned to do that, then so can Danny.Yet, he shows no sign of learning situational hitting, or of doing anything different from what he always seems to do, except that this time he decided to bunt, because he still does not know how to hit, in that situation. Give him credit for recognizing his own limitations, and moving the winning run into scoring position.But, for the life of me, I cannot fathom why he cannot do better than that.

  81. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Gonat, I disagree that Gonzalez pitched poorly. He had one horrible inning, and I sort of expected it. He had a game like that, or two, back in the spring. He fought through it and gave the team an excellent chance to win. Milone does appear to have done slightly better statistically, but obviously, a one game sample all but worthless, but Milone did give up two doubles. Milone also only pitched six innings. I am not sure why they would lift him at that point given the DH, but unfortunately for the A's, that appears to have been a turning point.Based on one game outcomes, we can find scores of pitchers who outpitch any other pitcher on a given day. It doesn't mean anything, really, except what we already know. Walter Johnson was MVP in 1924 and lost both of his starts in the World Series.I honestly think the people who keep tweaking us about the Milone trade just enjoy stirring the pot.

  82. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    William, then disagree with Gio's own self-assessment.

  83. Section 222 - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Extra tix for NLCS purchased. Whew! That virtual waiting room is becoming very tedious. At this rate, I'm going to have to work an extra year before retiring to pay for these babies. And the "convenience fee" is now $7 per ticket. A total of $112 for the four games. Beats standing in a long line at Nats Park with an uncertain outcome. I guess. I didn't see Davey do a mid game interview. Maybe McCatty's satisfied the contract. Davey probably answered the inquiry with an expletive.I am so glad we won Game 1. Such a pressure reliever. Looking forward to JZnn this afternoon. The Ice Bulldog will be ready.Did Milone pitch better than Gio yesterday? Absolutely. Is Milone better than Gio, or would I take that trade back knowing what we know now? Of course not.

  84. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    "But JZ, he can thrive in this weather. Got high hopes for today."I was thinking the same thing. Whenever JZ started to sweat, literally, during the warmer months, I started to worry, just a little. He seems to be more comfortable in the cooler air. I think he will be just fine for the rest of the post-season.

  85. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    So much of the wisdom of Moneyball, is simply based upon finding overlooked variables that might give a team a better chance to win. One of these stats, Whip, does convey important information, but it also conflates two things that are not really equivalent.Giving up walks, in virtually all circumstances before the 9th inning, is not as bad as giving up hits. There is a reason why guys like Ruth, Williams and Bonds walk so much. St. Louis has a line-up that doesn't give a pitcher all that much breathing room for mistakes.I think what was hardest to watch about Gio's performance was the fact that he seemed a bit unable to put the ball where he wanted it. Nevertheless, we have seen quite a few of our pitchers who have grooved pitches to St. Louis batters and walked them, which tends to turn out even worse.

  86. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Gio said that Tommy Milone pitched better than Gio yesterday? That seems like a strange thing for a reporter to ask him? I doubt that Gio was focused on Milone's performance. I guess it seems like an interesting thing to conjecture upon since Gio and Milone switched teams, but it really has nothing teachable about the sport of baseball therein.What I am guessing that Gio probably said was that he did not pitch his best yesterday, and NOBODY is arguing with that, just as nobody is arguing that Milone is even close to Gio as a pitcher, at least at this point.

  87. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    In tennis and basketball, you have players who actually go head to head and you can reasonably assess their performance. In a game where you have two comparable teams with comparable hitters, you might be able to compare the performances by the two starting pitchers, and say that Seaver outpitched Cuellar or whatever. Even there you have to be aware of lefty-righty match-ups and ballpark and weather effects.Basically, it is fine to say that Milone had a decent game, even though he only pitched six innings. It is fine to say that Gio has been better. It is also important to note that Gio's team won and Milone's team did not, something that many stats guys seem to think is irrelevant, but maybe if Milone had stayed out there a bit longer, Oakland wins the game.

  88. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    William, you are having too much fun talking to yourself. Gio never mentioned Tommy Milone and doubt he has ever met him. 2 ships passing in the night.Gio gave up 2 runs. The Nats won.

  89. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    And Gio is clearly the better pitcher. So why do people keep bringing up Milone. He simply is an average pitcher at this point. So let's drop the whole Milone thread and talk positive about our players, not some guy in Oakland.

  90. Gonat - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Here's what Mark Zuckerman wrote: Just like that, Gio Gonzalez's disastrous start, Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa's struggles at the plate, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche's fielding woes became afterthoughts. The Nationals, despite all that went wrong on a chilly October afternoon in St. Louis, took a 1-0 lead in this best-of-five series.___________________________________________Gio's disastrous start is what he wrote. I guess you don't have a problem with Mark's assessment.

  91. JD - Oct 8, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    I tend to agree with NatsLady. Gio is extremely emotional and tends to have a hard time keeping his emotions in check; he also has an uncanny ability to keep from blowing up. We have seen this movie before; Gio is wild; bleeds a bit but still keeps his team in the game by not allowing a big hit in the midst of the wildness. I think that all comparisons to Milone are completely irrelevant. We don't get where we are without Gio and that's where the discussion should end. I hope Milone does very well in his own right.

  92. JaneB - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Thanks for the link to that piece on OUR guy, Desi, UnkyD! I was so proud of him yesterday.I'm catching up on my actual newspaper reading this morning, and found TWO articles in the Wall Street Journal touting the management of the Nats. One by Ben Bernancke and one from Saturday by a WSJ editorial writer. It sure makes me think Davey is being seen far and wide for the great managing job he's been doing.When I add up the dollars we've spent on play-off seats, it makes my stomach hurt. But when I think about NOT being there, for even one game, I'm grateful we had the flexibility to get some. I think the prices you're seeing, DC Guy, must be the StubHub site. And those prices are whatever the market will bear. Our regular seats ($70 as a package, and I think $80 sold separately) were $110 each for the play offs. Sounds like someone is selling some seats to pay for some others.

  93. JaneB - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    PS…we clinched the division just a WEEK ago today! It feels much longer than that, and like it just happened, too.To quote a good friend of ours, "WoooHooo!"

  94. Drew - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    WODL:No reasonable person equates Tommy Milone with Gio Gonzalez.Milone has done a good job — Gio has been excellent.It's fair to say that in the short term both franchises have benefited from the trade. It's also fair to say that it will be several years before we know who made out best.We don't yet know Derek Norris' ceiling or what will become of A.J. Cole, not to mention Brad Peacock.At this point it's reasonable to say that both clubs got a lot of value.

  95. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Gonat, I have no idea whatsoever what you are attempting to argue. Was Gio wild in the game and the first two innings? Yes, he was. Was it disappointing to lose the lead in the 2nd in a game that appeared to be a low-scoring one? Yes. Was it disastrous? I think that term is poorly chosen, because it was not, in fact, disastrous.I am thrilled that we have Gio. He is an excellent player and seems to be a great person. He gets style points for his velocity and personality. I am reasonably sure that his next start will be even better, even though no one in their right mind would say that a 3.60 ERA against the Cardinals powerful line-up was bad.I am thrilled that we have Gonzalez instead of Milone, and there is very little age difference between them, about 18 months. I honestly have very little interest in Milone's career, unless he does something worthy of note at some point. He hasn't yet, and is in fact, about as average a pitcher as you could find.This is a bit like the Nyger stuff. I am not sorry that Nyger is gone and I am not sorry that Milone is gone. You can find players of their caliber essentially anywhere in the majors.

  96. Section 222 - Oct 8, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    WODL — I would hazard a guess that by now you have mentioned Milone more than anyone else. I may have been the first to mention him, early yesterday afternoon before either game. I did that because of the crazy irony and coincidence that he and Gio would pitch playoff games on the same day less than a year after the trade. No one could have predicted that, in part because no one could be sure when the trade occurred that Milone would start for the A's, much less be successful enough to start Game 2 of a playoff series. And of course, no one predicted the A's would be a playoff team. So it was a fun thing to point out and comment on and had nothing to do with whether the trade was a good idea. In fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone on this board who now thinks the trade was a mistake. So you've been arguing against a straw man for the past hour. Oh, and it's NyJer, with a J. Surely that's not that hard to remember. (Channeling Sofa.)

  97. rabbit34 - Oct 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Zimmerman and Werth look wasted. Rest them for this series, then we will have a chance. GO NATIONALS!!

  98. Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa - Oct 8, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Thank you, Deuces.: )

  99. ChicagoNatsGirl - Oct 8, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    We're back from our St. Louis road trip. And meat grinder is just about right. It was excruciating but at least ended the right way. Being surrounded by St. Louis fans was amusing–despite the fact that we have the best record in all of baseball did not seem to dampen their firm conviction that they are the superior team for having won the World Series last year. So I'm glad we were able to set that straight. Unfortunately, we were sitting such that we could not see the amazing Werth catch. It was right beneath us. Saw a few other Nats fans; met Craig Stammen's Mom and aunts. Overall, amazing to be present at the Nats first ever play off game. It's the one thing that ameliorates being so far away. Wish I could have stayed for today's game.

  100. natsfan1a - Oct 8, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    Thanks for representing, CNG.

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