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Nats vs. Cardinals – 3/2/2013

Mar 2, 2013, 4:55 PM EDT

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Chase here setting up the game thread for today as Mark is off for the weekend. The Nationals are set to take on the St. Louis Cardinals today for the first time since the National League Division Series last fall. We'll see a familiar pitching matchup as Gio Gonzalez squares off with Adam Wainwright, they were the opposing pitchers in both Game 1 and Game 5 of the playoff series.

Pete Kozma has the day off, but Daniel Descalso will be out there. A few other familiar names from that series will be playing today as well. If you remember, these very Cardinals threw some salt on the wound after the series by saying Gio looked rattled in the moment in Game 5. Maybe Gio takes a little more energy into this outing than the other starts he will make this spring.

The Nats lineup features a bunch of their younger players including Steve Lombardozzi, Danny Espinosa, and Anthony Rendon. Maybe today will decide the future of the Nationals' second base position. Okay, maybe not.

Anyways, enjoy the game…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Where: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: St. Louis' KMOX radio via MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Cloudy, 64 degrees, Wind 11 mph

NATIONALS
DH Danny Espinosa
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore

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  1. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    beat them bad Gio. Wish I could watch. GO Nats!!!

  2. phil dunton - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Danny Espinosa is still a strikeout machine. I can't wait until Rendon is ready to take over at second base.

  3. phil dunton - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Danny Espinosa is still a strikeout machine. I can't wait until Rendon is ready to take over at second base.

  4. Section 222 - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Good morning all. I know you've been waiting with bated breath for the next installment of my Harper obsession — runs due to his hustle for August. So here it is! August was not a great month all around for the phenom. In 27 games, he slashed .243/.292/.456. But his power did return. He hit 6 HR and had 16 RBIs, higher totals in both categories than in any month so far. The stage was set for his monster September.We saw that during his even worse hitting performance in July, he seemed to step up his hustle (if such a thing is possible). So did his power resurgence mean he dialed back that part of his game? Nope. I count 8 hustle runs this month, making a total of 36 so far this year. Here we go:Aug 3 vs. Marlins – Harper leads off the inning with a single and takes second on defensive indifference. Then with two out, Morse hits a shot up the middle. Bonifacio makes a diving stop, but jams his thumb as he falls. In great pain, he tosses the ball toward Reyes, who watches it go by, and Harper scores when the ball rolls away. Watch the "hustle" by Reyes to make sure the play is dead before jogging over to attend to Bonifacio. Hahaha.Aug. 5. vs. MIA – Ok, I’m not going to count this as a Harper Hustle run, but it gets an honorable mention. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, with Werth on 2nd and Espi on 1st, Flores hits an high fly ball to pretty deep left center. Not only does Werth tag and go to 3rd, but Espi tags and goes to 2nd. (Sequence starts at 1:40.) They both score on the next play, a Strasburg single. Raise your hand if you think Harper’s hustle over the past three months had something to do with that happening. Yeah, me too. In some ways this is the most telling highlight of the year.Aug. 6 vs. HOU — Harper walks to load the bases for Zim in the 5th inning. Zim hits a chopper over the 3rd baseman’s head, scoring two runs. Harper goes 1st to 3rd on the play, allowing him to score easily on Morse’s single to center that follows. (5th inning starts at 5:14.) Watch for the shocked body language from the left fielder as he fields Zim’s hit and realizes Harper is going to 3rd base.Aug. 8 vs. HOU – Lombo and Harper walk to start the game, and Zim follows with a chopper over the 3rd baseman’s head into left field. Lombo scores and Harper hustles to third on the throw. (Sequence starts at 0:29.) It then looks like he scores on an ALR sac fly, but it turns out Angel Hernandez behind the plate, or perhaps the 2nd base ump, had called a balk before the pitch. So Harper scores on the balk and ALR gets to bat again. Notice that Angel didn’t make Harper come back on the field and run from 3rd to home again. (Ah, how we miss you Mikey Morse.) It’s also funny how long it took Carp and FP to figure out what had happened. Can’t really blame them –they’re right that the umps should inform the fans what the ruling is like the refs do in football.Aug. 10 vs. ARI – This is a judgment call, but I’m giving Harper’s hustle credit for this run too. Lombo leads off the 7th with a single, and Harper walks. After Zim flies out, ALR hits a sharp grounder to first, a potential double play ball. Harper slides hard and, probably more importantly, very late into second. (Sequence starts at 7:41.) Stephen Drew’s throw trying to turn the double play is way off and Lombo scores on the error. More in the next comment.

  5. Section 222 - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Three more hustle runs for Harper in August:Aug. 13 vs. SFG – In a game that is already a blowout, Harper leads off the 5th inning with a single to left. After a Zim strikeout, ALR grounds out to the right side of the diamond. Because the Giants have the shift on against ALR, there’s no one to cover third, so Harper just keeps running. (Sequence starts at 8:26.) Note the reaction of the Giants’ first baseman as he comes off the bag ready to fire to third, only to realize that there’s no one there. You've just been Harpered, my friend. Harper then scores on a wild pitch. Listen to Bob and FP crediting Harper’s hustle for this run.Aug. 19 vs. NYM. – With Werth on first, Harper crushes the ball to the gap in right center. The ball short hops off the wall, but is played fairly cleanly by the centerfielder, who hits the cutoff man. But Harper is in overdrive and doesn’t even draw a throw as he goes into third for a triple. (Sequence starts at 3:17.) He then scores on Zim’s line drive single into left which is hit deep enough that he has to hold at third for a second to make sure it wasn’t going to be caught. So it’s quite unlikely even Harper could have scored on that hit from second. Aug. 22 vs. ATL – Harper leads off the 8th with a sharp single to left and when the left fielder bobbles the ball, he never stops running, even though he slips rounding first, and slides in just under the tag. (Sequence starts at 11:45.) Zim then hits what would have been a tailor made double play ball to the second baseman, but instead, it advances Harper to third. He then scores on Morse’s single. A classic Harper hustle run. Unfortunately, it was the only run the Nats scored that day in a 5-1 loss.So that's August. As I watch these highlights, I've realized that what makes his play special is not that he's doing things no one else can do. He's fast, but not the fastest in the game or on the team, for example. Other guys slide hard to break up a DP, or take the extra base when there's no one covering third or when an outfielder bobbles the ball on a single. The difference is that he does it so regularly, and so often. He's going all out on every play. When he hits the ball, he leaves the batter's box intending to get as far as he possibly can. When he's at first he thinks about tagging to get to second. When he's on second, he's going to score on a single if there's any way that can be done. Other players are capable of doing that, they just don't seem to have the intensity on every play that he does. But he's rubbing off on them, as the August 5 highlight shows.And for those who have read this far, here’s a bonus: Mark’s post from March 6, 2012, entitled "Harper wowing Nats, opponents with hustle." So it's not like the results were unexpected. But 36 extra runs in four months? That's just sick.

  6. MicheleS - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    222 I do enjoy your obsession with Harper much more than I enjoy other's obsessions.

  7. SonnyG10 - Mar 2, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    222, thanks for sharing your research.

  8. Section 222 - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Thanks Michele. I suppose I could let it go and just wait for some careful reader to correct me, but somehow I messed up the description of what happened on August 8 in that first inning against the Astros. Here's the corrected entry:Aug. 8 vs. HOU – Lombo and Harper walk to start the game, and Zim pulls a hard shot down the line that goes off the third baseman’s glove into foul territory. Lombo tries to score and is out on a play at the plate, but Harper hustles to third on the throw. (Sequence starts at 0:29.) It then looks like he scores on an ALR sac fly, but it turns out Angel Hernandez behind the plate, or perhaps the 2nd base ump had called a balk before the pitch. So Harper scores on the balk and ALR gets to bat again. Notice that Angel didn’t make Harper come back on the field and run from 3rd to home again. (Ah, how we miss you Mikey Morse.) It’s also funny how long it took Carp and FP to figure out what had happened. Can’t really blame them –they’re right that the umps should inform the fans what the ruling is like the refs do in football.

  9. SonnyG10 - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    BTW 222, Hope you're feeling better.

  10. Section 222 - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Thanks Sonny. I'm day to day, but should be 100% by Opening Day. :-)

  11. Anna Peregrina - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Rendon!

  12. tayo - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Rendon just keep hitting.

  13. Section 222 - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    Not sure I'll be able to stand listening to these Cardinals radio jokers for much longer. I give Carp and FP a lot of grief, but at least they take the time to learn the correct pronunciation of the opposing players' names. LAMbardozzi? And no one I've heard yet pronounces Rendon correctly. Maybe if he hits a few more home runs against them they'll figure it out.

  14. tayo - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Whats up with the Idiot cards going first pitch swinging. Gio needs his work.

  15. Gonat - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    phil dunton said… Danny Espinosa is still a strikeout machine. I can't wait until Rendon is ready to take over at second base. March 02, 2013 12:14 PM __________________________________He will always be a strikeout machine but the hope is he can get it below 1 per game. His lefty batting mechanics look better. With all that said, Rendon could be a much better player with a much higher ceiling.

  16. MicheleS - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    And now Marrero homers.. good to see him get back. Hope the kid does well

  17. tayo - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    If Marrero gets back his power, I think he'll be a better 1b futere prospect than Moore simply based on the fact that he will hit for way better average than Moore could/has.

  18. MicheleS - Mar 2, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Desi BOMB!!!

  19. Steady Eddie - Mar 2, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Desi!

  20. Gonat - Mar 2, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Shannon: The Nats had the best record in the NL at 98-64 but they didn't go to the big dance. Were beaten by the Cardinals.Rooney: They were dancing when it was 6-0. _______________________________These DBags won't let up.

  21. NatsJim - Mar 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    To be fair, had the situation been reversed and we'd have stormed back from 6-0 I'd still be yapping about it myself… just sayin.

  22. NatsLady - Mar 2, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    You are going to hear about Game Five and the Stras shutdown the first time we play every team in April and May just get ready for it So will the Cards and Tigers and every other team that did not win the WS

  23. Gonat - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Jim, yes as fans I suppose we would unless we had won multiple World Series in the last decade, and we would have acted like we've been there before. I have to believe their radio guys know that they are the only media transmiting the game today, and it only took 6 innings for some gloating.

  24. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    "If Marrero gets back his power…"He never had any power. In 2011, he played several dozen games in a Nats uniform with 117 PAs and no HRs. Today's HR was his very first in a Nats uniform, and it took him almost 150 ABs to do it. In only 156 ABs last year, Moore hit 10 HRs.In just 17 ST ABs, Tony Rendon has hit 3 balls out of the park, by contrast, with one of them being snatched and hauled back into the playing field by the Mets CFer. Otherwise, Rendon would already have 3 HRs this spring, to go along with 2 2b hits, and only 2 Ks, in just 17 ABs. He has hit more shots out of the park than he has Ks. For any hitter, that is a stunning stat, but for a power hitter, it is amazing.Just keeping Merrero's "power" numbers in perspective.

  25. Michael S - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    These announcer are clueless homers. They don't know names or previous years stats. We have homers but they are professionals. They do their homework and show respect for the athletes. Charlie and Dave SO out class these two. (the play by play guys OK but the other one needs to be put out to pasture)

  26. Gonat - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Michael S said… These announcer are clueless homers. They don't know names or previous years stats. We have homers but they are professionals. They do their homework and show respect for the athletes. Charlie and Dave SO out class these two. (the play by play guys OK but the other one needs to be put out to pasture) _____________________________________Now knowing the voice of Rooney, he wasn't the drunk idiot with Mike Shannon in that broadcast we suffered through last year. If you didn't hear that, you missed unprofessional at its worse.I'm sure the St. Louis crowd is used to them and maybe likes them.Like you said, they are clueless homers and we get a comparison to professionals like Charlie and Dave, so yes, we are fortunate.

  27. Gonat - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Ryan Howard hit a HR off of Dickey and looked like a wounded duck trotting around the bases. He's not in the best shape of his life.

  28. MicheleS - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    At least Shannon is respecting Drew's change up.

  29. Doc - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Impressive research on Harps, The Hustling Machine, Section 222!Thanks for your efforts.So, when does the book come out?

  30. Gonat - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    http://www.forums.mlb.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=3&nav=messages&webtag=ml-cardinals&tid=381Here is a 12 year old Cardinals forum post on Shannon and his drinking. Most Cardinal fans seem fine with it even if he is drunk while broadcasting.

  31. Uncle Atom - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    222, thanks for these Harper highlights. I'm in the tank for him because of the way he always plays the game. It's tremendous fun to watch.

  32. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Can we get an update here?

  33. natsfan1a - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    I do believe that our boys beat the birds 6-2.

  34. natsfan1a - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    (Going by Game Day.)

  35. Doc - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    Impressive research on Harps, The Hustling Machine, Section 222!Thanks for your efforts.So, when does the book come out?

  36. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    Nevermind. Final 6-2 Nats

  37. natsfan1a - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    Ahem.

  38. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Jeez. At this point I'm going to owe an actual Infinity.

  39. natsfan1a - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    hehe.

  40. NatsFan05 - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Laddie Blah Blah said… "Just keeping Marrero's "power" numbers in perspective." Marrero was coming off an injury in 11 and could be a really good choice at 1st as a starter or backup in two years after Adam is done.He's only 24, which is still young.7 seasons in the Nats Minor league system.2006 0 Hrs 2007 23 Hrs2008 11 Hrs2009 17 Hrs2010 18 Hrs2011 14 Hrs2012 3 HrsI like the kid, he was ahead of Moore until he got hurt. But, he's going to need to go to AAA and really have a good year to put himself back in the spot light as a top prospect.

  41. WT YL - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    #RendonIsReady

  42. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Harry Caray was usually in the bag by the sixth inning. It's a Cardinals tradition.

  43. Rabbit34 - Mar 2, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Future = 1b Marrero, 2b Rendon, ss Desmond, 3b Zim …Moore Span Harper. Head's spinning. Too much good stuff left over!

  44. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 2, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Marrero = Beastmode age 24.

  45. UnkyD - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    I seem to remember that Marrero's deficiencies were on defense, before the hammy…. How's he looking on the bag, anybody?

  46. John C. - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Rabbit, Werth is going to hold down an OF spot through 2017, and Span is likely gone by 2015, after that at the latest. That's OK, Span's departure opens a spot for Goodwin or Perez. Your first baseman is likely Moore, not Marrero.But we'll see. You're right, though: a lot of good stuff out there!

  47. UnkyD - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    John C…. Don't count Skole out of the running, at 1B in '15…. Looking loke a + LH bat…..

  48. NatsLady - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    My admiration for MicheleS just went up 1000%. Can't believe you go to ball games!!! Man, that's a haul out to Ashburn. (Excellent restaurant, though, me and the Latin-teacher nephew had a nice meal.)

  49. pk24 - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Good outings by the Shark and by CM Wang in the opening day of the WBC. Roger had 2 hits, 2 RBIs and scored a run as the Netherlands beat Korea. Wang pitched 6 scoreless innings in Chinese Tapei's win over Australia.

  50. SonnyG10 - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    UnkyD, I thought Marrero's defense looked pretty good when the Nats played on TV the other day. He handled a really hard hit ground ball, I remember, and he also made a tag on a runner coming down the first base line when the infielder's throw was off the mark. I was impressed overall.

  51. SonnyG10 - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    NatsLady said…My admiration for MicheleS just went up 1000%. Can't believe you go to ball games!!! Man, that's a haul out to Ashburn. (Excellent restaurant, though, me and the Latin-teacher nephew had a nice meal.)March 02, 2013 7:30 PMThat restaurant wasn't Clyde's by any chance was it? My wife and I like that Clydes better than the one in Reston.

  52. Bryan - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    If you look at the lineup Baseball America is projecting for the Nationals in 2016, they have Rendon at 3rd and Ryan Zimmerman at 1st. So Marrero playing first might not even be a real possibility.Even when Marrero had a decent September callup, most folks were suggesting that he'd probably be most useful as part of a trade.

  53. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:06 AM

    Anybody that thinks they can project a Major League line up for ANY team 3 years out is a total friggin joke.

  54. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    Who's going tomorrow? Haven't decided yet … I'm caught up, but not ahead of schedule exactly. Looks like jacket weather again.

  55. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:51 AM

    thanks NatsLady.. and yes it is a haul to get to the games. It's all in the timing.. like avoiding rush hour traffic. Still is about 1 hour though.Sonny.. the restaurant was Ford's Fish Shack. They have one in Ashburn and one soon in South Riding.

  56. DHamm - Mar 3, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    I just made the trek down and will be there tomorrow.

  57. SonnyG10 - Mar 3, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    Thanks, Michele. My wife and I will have to try that one out.

  58. Joe Seamhead - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    Good reading, NL.Thanks for your efforts!

  59. Rabbit34 - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Read the article. Anybody you trade can become some else's star. Every team has somebody else's star. That's one of the reason's for trades. To make your team better. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't.

  60. NatsLady - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Thanks, Rabbit and Seamhead. I think the trade "worked out" (in the sense we got (reasonably) good players and got a year of good play from Morgan and more than that from Burnett. Big money was not involved. The problem for me is, why was it necessary in the first place? The trade was based more on environmental problems (Hanrahan's psyche and Milledge's "character") than on actual team needs. If those players had played to their talent (which they did for the Pirates) the trade would not have been necessary. When players benefit so much from a "change of scenery" then what was wrong with the scenery here? Fortunately, I think the scenery here is vastly different and we are now seeing the other side of the coin–players are coming HERE to improve.

  61. c715e5d6-9d22-11e1-a89a-000f20980440 - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Unkyd @ 7:00: Small sample size, but I did see him for the first 3 home games at Space Coast Stadium. He seems crisp on defense: not ALR, of course, but nothing that made me slap my forehead and say "what were we thinking?" As far as baseball instincts, he did have that unassisted double play last Sunday, and the tag mentioned above. Since there doesn't appear to be video of the double play, here's what happened: There's runner on first, running on the pitch. CM catches a low hard liner several feet to the left of first (first out). He ends up in the dirt, but is quick enough to flip himself over without getting up to tag the bag before the runner can get back (second out).ArVAFan

  62. Bryan - Mar 3, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    NatsLeady, I realize that predicting a lineup several years down the road isn't a guarantee thing. I brought up the Baseball America prediction because they're not the only ones who are predicting that Zimm will move over to first eventually to help make room for Rendon.

  63. Steve Hayes - Mar 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Espi is so frustrating and a disappointment. He's had two years (at least) to 'fix' his loopy swing. He failed — leading the Bigs in k's — and That is hard to do. Now he plays with a torn rotator cuff and claims it will have no effect on his play? I think not. regret to say it's time to move Espi and let Rendon and Lombo get their clear shot.

  64. Steve Hayes - Mar 3, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    It's part of the sports entertainment thing to predict the future. It's what they do — they entertain. anyone 'joning' on them for doing this is wasting their energy

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 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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